Blue Runnings

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

Gannin’ Along the Scotswood Road To See the Blaydon Races!

on 11 June 2015

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I went to Blaydon races,
Twas on the 9th of June,
Twenty Hundred and Fifteen,
On a summer’s afternoon
!

Now that we’ve got that out of our system (and if you haven’t, you can listen to ‘The Blaydon Races’ on audioBoom).

The Blaydon Races is probably second only to the Great North Run for notoriety in the North-East, outside of the running club calendars at least – probably because of the inconvenience to the general public for road closures! The race is held on the 9th of June every year, regardless of what day of the week this falls on – and runs along one of the biggest roads into Newcastle, usually about the same time many commuters are wanting to use it to get home…tradition comes first right?! The race has been organised since its inaugration in its current form, by the Blaydon Harriers since 1981 – and has very strict intake numbers, which are always exceeded by the number of applicants!

Not being ‘in’ the running club scene quite yet when the original applications openend up, I was oblivious to the places opening up – but there was an issue with the system and it ended up crashing – meaning the last 300 places were available on a different date after everything had been sorted again. This small doorway in, I had picked up on – and was sitting at the computer waiting from about 08:30 that morning – entry opened at 9am. I hit refresh exactly as the computer clock clicked over – and was straight into the waiting list, already at place 40 something or something like that so they must have gone lightning fast!

The Blaydon race route is not located for easy parking…but it is pretty good for public transport, and they had coaches on to Newcastle before and after the race. The start was at 19:15 from Newcastle – and despite getting to Blaydon at 16:15 – 3 hours early, I still only just found somewhere that wasn’t randomly-left-at-the-roadside for my car! I found the start line, and another Sarah and we wandered up to find the coaches and then travelled to Newcastle together – I think she was from the Wallsend Harriers and was hoping to get the 3rd place ‘Me and My Lass’ prize with her hubby who was coming straight from work a bit later.

At Newcastle, I trundled down to the station on the hunt for FOOOOOOD! Pre-race nutrition for me consisted of a croissant and a pecan twist pastry thing, proper healthy running stuff you understand…I pay lots of attention to all those running books and magazines evidentally. The Bounders were meeting at the back of St Nicholas’ Cathedral – the start line being round the front, and excluding the approximately 10 of us who’d made our own way there it took two full coaches to disgorge the rest! Last count was 107 Blackhill Bounders – which is a fair candidate for most represented club at the race!

Photo by CM of the Blackhill Bounders

Photo by CM of the Blackhill Bounders

It was a seriously sunny evening for a run – I’d found some suncream in the bottom of my backpack which I’d sprayed over my arms, shoulders and face after getting a slightly sunburnt nose walking Hadrian’s on Sunday with X. I’d like to take credit for having this in my possession being down to my being incredibly organised and prepared, but the truth is it’s probably been kicking around in the bottom of my bag since last summer sometime… I was very disorganised for this one, hadn’t looked at where the buses were leaving from at Blaydon, or where the start line was in Newcastle, or where the Bounder meet-up was in relation to this…or even how far the course was to be honest! This really was a turn-up and it’ll sort itself out one. I fear I’m getting quite blasé about races!

ANYWAY, where were we? Yes – seriously sunny. The route being due West, this meant that even with sunglasses on I couldn’t really see, which did help the enormous length of Scotswood Road pass in a bit more of a blur, but also meant I had my head down and could only really concentrate on about a metre in front of me – head down with a sweaty and suncreamed forehead just meant my sunglasses kept falling down my nose all the time and I had a bit more than just salt in my eyes 😦 I’m slowly getting used to this running in the summer malarky but I can’t say it’s my favourite time of year!

The course itself was blissfully uneventful from where I was – though another poor runner had a heart attack near the start, fortunately some other runners gave him CPR and called an ambulance – he’s recovering well according to the facebook page. It was a bit odd seeing very few cars about on what’s normally an incredibly busy road, and I’d never realised before that the big loop from Scotwood Bridge back towards Blaydon, that I’ve driven many times, is not actually downhill the whole way round – it’s almost completely level and actually has a slight uphill to it in the middle…the things you notice when you’re 4 miles into a route and boiling your brains off.

I did finally make it to the finish! I was moderately near the back as normal, but I really can’t believe there were 544 people behind me?! There was a double-back section and I swear there weren’t that many… I’m pretty pleased with my pace – you can see on the map graph at the bottom it was really steady too – as it puts me back to close to where I was for the Tyneside 10k, where I got my current pb of 62 mins. I would have been bang on track for this if the course had been that little bit longer – which given how much time I’ve been adding on to my time with the weather and absence, I’m really pleased about – especially as it was in blazing sunshine!

results

The goody bag at the end included a cheese roll, crisps, water and a specially commissioned ‘Blaydon Race Ale’ by Hadrian Borders Brewery and featuring one of the Blaydon Harriers and Olympian from the 1980’s on the bottle. They’d even chilled the bags so both the beer and the cheese sandwich were cold and fresh at the finish line which was a very appreciated touch!

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We also got the infamous Blaydon Race t-shirt, I’ve seen several people running in the one from the year before last (apparently last year’s was purple and for some reason not very popular? I don’t recall seeing it anyway), and this year’s is in a similar vein with a different sponsor, and features several quotes from ‘The Blaydon Races’ song. It’s a nice light-weight fabric for the summer 🙂

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Rosie of course has to claim everything that gets put on the floor as her own…this is some of the view from the back, the bottom just has the sponsors and organisations involved with the race across it.

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When I got home and investigated the bag contents further, I discovered that not only did the paperwork stuff contain a ‘programme’ from the race including all the competitors names and bib numbers, there was also a ‘Blaydon Race’ certificate to fill your name and time in on, which I thought was a nice touch, this now lives in my increasingly full race number folder with my bib from the race 🙂

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I’ll not be beating myself up if I don’t get into this one next year, but I think I will try to enter – I don’t know if they open it early or have a reserved number of places for club runners but I’d be suprised if the number of Bounders who were there were all sitting at their computer waiting for the clock tickover like I was! It’s definitely one I’m pleased to be able to say I’ve done – and unlike many large attendance races, had enough road space that it didn’t feel cramped and elbow-y past the first few hundred yards.

blaydon races

You can download a GPX file of this route from my Dropbox account by following the link below:

GPX data from Dropbox

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