Blue Runnings

Race Reviews, GPX files and more from North-East England

Pier 2 Pier Run 2015 – 11km

on 18 May 2015

The weekend just gone was a very active one – not only did I have Gelt Gladiator on the Saturday, I’d booked myself in for the Pier to Pier Run on the Sunday. P has officially declared me mad, but it seems to be such a big feature in the local running calendar that when I saw it was coming up I had to give it a go! I see that many P2P 2014 bandanas around it looks like everyone had a go last year!

The run goes from South Shields pier, along the clifftops and beaches right down to Sunderland pier for the finish line and is organised by the Sunderland Strollers. Don’t let the name fool you! I’ve seen the Sunderland Strollers at several races before and they have some very fast members! I’d booked a seat on the Bounders coach a few weeks ago, but as the time drew near, decided that I didn’t want to lose the whole day to the race – the coach was leaving Consett at 08:15 (fine, I left about the same time myself!), but not coming back until 15:30 from Sunderland as the guys were hitting a pub afterwards. The Bounders have been described on the radio before as ‘a drinking club with a running problem’! They’re a lovely bunch anyway 🙂 So, I decided as I needed food and the shops shut at 4pm, that I would take my own car as I should then be home for 2pm. I’d set the satnav for a carpark near the pier, but to be honest could have found it myself if someone said ‘drive towards South Shields and then at every single roundabout ever, go straight over it’, seriously, there are so many roundabouts in South Shields and it felt like I was constantly hearing “At the roundabout, take the second exit”! Say something else Eddie!

Anyway…I found the Bounders bus, and am in my first Bounders team photo! I haven’t managed to commandeer a vest yet, one of the committee guys (the one snoozing at the front!), was kind enough to bring some in for me to try on – but they were too small so I’m waiting on the next order coming in, so I was in my Kielder t-shirt and a visor 🙂 Maybe next time 🙂 I’m totally in there though!

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As with most beach runs…you have to cross loose sand to get to the start line. I’d opted for my Glycerin road shoes wanting the extra cushioning after yesterday. This was a mistake. I’d tried the ankle clamp lacing again hoping to stop the sand getting in as I’d encountered this at Bamburgh last time I did a beach run – it didn’t help. Last time, I wore my Cascadia trail shoes and they were ok – a bit gritty but bearable. My Glycerins have lovely breathing vents across the front…and they’re not fine enough to prevent sand getting through. I actually had to go and find a rock on the pier to sit on behind the start line and empty my shoes of sand before we’d even started! Not a good sign! There was a proper pile in each one!

Shoes decanted, to the start line! Where I got distracted by the jelly-like consistency of the sand – the tide had obviously recently gone out as the sand was doing that drying out thing it does when you step on it, but actually wobbling back into soggy sand state after the pressure was removed. As such, I forgot to reset the satellites while waiting for the start klaxon and missed the first few seconds of the race while my watch picked me up again! Novice mistake obviously!

We ran a fair stretch across the beach before heading up over the fields (taking more care leaving the beach than I had joining it!) and along the cliff top for almost the full stretch to Sunderland, passing Souter Lighthouse – another landmark I have run past in ignorance! I’m getting quite good at it! Hit a water station just after the lighthouse – except I didn’t realise what it was when I saw brown and yellow things rolling across the grass – I had no idea what they were until I got close enough to see they were cups! Attempting to run while drinking from a plastic cup is a really bad idea if you don’t want to slosh it all over your face…another novice mistake…

Most of the clifftop routes were rough rock paths or grass, and my trainers were ok but I still had some sand in them – I found out when I eventually got back to the car that it had managed to get into my socks too – but after several miles running on it, it was really starting to rub and the inside of the ball of my feet was not the most comfortable thing to be plodding along on. For about the first 2km, I’d been aware of the bruise just above my right knee from the day before every time I put my right foot down – but fortunately this had subsided by the time the sand was starting to bug me, so I wasn’t mega nuisanced in my pootling!

The finish line finally in sight, it was another beach stretch – fortunately joining at a damp sand point rather than the sink-three-miles-into-it loose stuff of the dunes so no more grit to add to that already living in my trainers. I found the last few hundred metres to the finish line tough to keep going, I’d only walked for stairs or loose sand crossings up until then, and I definitely didn’t have a sprint finish left in me! I plopped down on the floor literally a few metres over the line desperate to empty my shoes up and loosen my laces off. The ankle-clamping tie method hadn’t bothered me at all for the whole run, but my laces lower down felt tight across the ball of my feet, which had been rubbed raw by the sand. Like having sandpaper socks without the paper. And with socks. Sandsocks. It’d be handy if I had callouses there, but I do not!

I finished up 807th out of a total field of 930 – nearly all club runners, which I’m really pleased about 🙂 Quite pleased with my time 🙂 Not a record breaker but quite respectable for where I’ve been at the moment 🙂

p2p result

Look how many Bounders there were! The third most represented club in the race! And I wasn’t last 😛

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I was intending to get the bus back to South Shields and my car, so headed up to the top of the pier, picked up a bottle of water and a finisher’s pack and headed off on the hunt for a bus stop for the E1 or the 20. The kindly souls at the Strollers know runners well – a bag of ready salted crisps and a Snickers didn’t survive long in the pack and I felt a bit better after inhaling them. I found several bus stops for the E1 and the 19, I even found the bus depot and workshop – walking up some of the roads J and I had run along at the latter end of the Sunderland 10k which was both helpful and weird to do. I ended up finding the metro station and getting that back instead, picking up a rather horrible pasty from a Gregg’s in South Shields on the way past, not an experience I’m in a rush to repeat!

The finisher’s pack for this event was probably the best I’ve had from a race – and really put the Great Manchester Run pack to shame.

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Fully branded P2P 2015 gear including bag, medal, gym towel (I had this out in the car for rubbing the sand off my toes when I changed into fresh socks before driving home!), bib fasteners and even the sunglasses!

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I think we need a better look at those bib fasteners – I’d seen one of the other Bounders wearing her race number attached with these and had no idea how they worked – now I have some to play with! The front bit with the logo on goes through the hole on your race number and has a dimple on the back, and the back fasteners clamp onto this with your shirt inbetween, so it leaves a small dimple in your shirt (which the back of the pack assures washes out) rather than putting safety pin holes in all your shirts! How clever! Looking forward to trying these 🙂

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The medal’s pretty sweet too 🙂

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This was a really well organised event, and I really am chuffed with the finisher’s pack – possibly somewhat naively, it’s not what I expected at all from an event organised by a running club – regardless of how big they are! The Sunderland Strollers did a cracking job with this, and I look forward to heading back next year – possibly in some slightly more sand proof shoes and tighter weave socks!

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The GPS file for this race can be downloaded from Dropbox here:

GPX File Pier to Pier

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