Blue Runnings

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

Sunderland 10k – 2018

It was very much a Girls On Tour trip this morning – four of us on our merry way to Sunderland; two for the 10k and two for the half marathon (after J3 had remembered to retrieve our 10k numbers from her car before we left). Many odd things were discussed on the way there, the direction of conversation seemingly funneled by how much B needed to use the little girl’s room…

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The weather was forecast for rain forever when we checked it on Saturday so were all armed to the hilt with waterproof jackets and long trousers, but by Sunday morning it had changed to light drizzle all morning, and when we got there it looked decidedly too muggy to wear long-anythings! We succeeded in finding B a loo, and then trekked back to the car to dump the coats!

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We did eventually make it to the start line, where J3 & I dumped B & J2 (maybe I should just start using names?!) as they were leaving half an hour after us for the half marathon, while we were doing the 10k. We completed the usual cram-into-the-pens-like-sardines and wiggled around a bit as a warm up before we were allowed to head over the start line!

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The first half of the 10k route weaves through more built up areas – and as a result there was no breeze and it was very muggy! We spent some time swapping between pavements and roads depending on the presence of cobbles, and dodging Deadpool when he lost his keys. We were passed by a guy carrying a full wheely bin as we headed towards the bridge – and didn’t really see him again until the last kilometer! He was a man on a mission and one does not get in the way of that!

It was with great relief we left the town, headed out over the bridge and dooooooown towards the rivermouth. Still not particularly breezy but at least everyone was spacing out nicely and we were still chugging along at a good pace. It didn’t rain for the whole day so I was able to pass the boats at the docks with full vision available and therefore discern they were not grey walls as I have previous for observing on a high rain and therefore no glasses attempt at this race (2015). We hit the first water station here with the odd squishy bag bottles, and had a mini water fight trying to get water out of them to spray over our heads to cool off – they’re designed not to leak under squeeze pressure only! We managed 😉 Apologies to anyone running around us we may have hit in the process!

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Pier To Pier 2017

It’s Pier to Pier time again! I ran this in 2015 and spectated in 2016 due to illness, so it was good to be out running it again. Last time I left my car at the start and caught the metro back when I’d finished as I had no idea where I was going at either end, but this year I took advantage of the coaches which had been enlisted to ferry people who had parked at the finish back to the start line in good time for everything kicking off. I’d definitely use this service again if not getting the Bounders coach as it was very smooth – I found parking easily (not so in 2016 when I was meeing J at the finish as it was full of presumably runner’s cars!) and didn’t have to wait at all for a coach.

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The start of this race is on the sand by the pier at South Shields – and more than one person had to empty their shoes of sand from crossing the loose stuff before the start time. I’d opted for my Goretex trail shoes – the pink canoes – and they did keep the bulk of the sand out – I’d picked up some by the end of the race just from what was kicked up over the top as I went round, but I wasn’t aware of it being there – sand blisters are not pleasant and are to be avoided if possible!

I ran with G for this one and we had a good natter and a birdwatch on the way round. The long sand stretch at the start had us both feeling very heavy-calved very quickly which was not a reassuring start to a 7 mile-ish run! There are three routes you can take across the Leas when you leave the beach, I suspect the middle or road ones are the fastest, but we opted for the coastal path just for the view – the sun kept just lighting the wave tips of a very calm sea and the cliffs were gorgeous.

The first part of this course is deceptively hilly, and it took until about mile 2 to get into a comfortable stride – the route flattens out across the cliffs, and then you have a longer downhill across the clifftop to Souter Lighthouse and the water station. From Souter all the way to the finish, with only one or two small blips, it was blessedly downhill or flat.

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It’s difficult to judge your progress by landmarks on this route, as there aren’t really many…you go across winding clifftops with higher bushy edges and not much visibility of the course ahead for the first part, then you can see a tower building and a lighthouse. The tower is now a restaurant or something and there are steps down to Marsden Beach (there were so many points along here where I was itching to go down to the beach to explore the cliffs or go for a paddle!) and the lighthouse is Souter Lighthouse and marks the halfway point between South Shields and Sunderland piers.

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Sunderland 10k 2017

I last (and first!) ran this race in 2015 when it had a slightly different route starting and finished at the Stadium of Light. It was absolutely bucketing it down and J & I were soaked in our bin bags before we’d even got from the car park to the stadium! It was very quickly clear (or not) that I was wasting my time trying to see with my glasses on, they were pocketed and I saw very little of Sunderland. I remember the grey wall of a battleship thing and the waves crashing over the walls at the seafront at Roker and lots of soggy clothes. J enjoyed it enough to go back again last year, when I opted for donning my Terrible Photographer hat and stalking her and some of the Bounders round the course.

This year, I can happily say that we were onto a winner right from the off in that it wasn’t bucketing it down with rain before we’d even got there. We had some new company in the form of A & G this year and a merry bunch we made on the way into Sunderland.

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You got free stuff before the race even started for this one – the race pack included a buff so there were many people wearing them around the course. There was a competition to win a watch for the most inventive donning of said buff; none of us were partaking but I definitely think Ms Rosie was in with a shot 🙂

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Run 2 Remember Sunderland 2016

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Run 2 Remember has rolled around again raising money for 4 major military personnel supporting charities. This was high on J’s list of favourite runs last year so it had to make the calendar this year – and they had a raffle and tombola! Who doesn’t love a race where you can win things without even running?

This is the second year we’ve run this one, and it’s setting a trend for sunshine, even if there was a bit of a shower on the way there. 🙂 We also had another friendly face we recognised (we didn’t know anyone except Hippie the photographer and his family last year) in the appearance of R at the start line! J was obviously getting into the zone right from the gathering at the starting banner, and as we started off she shot off looking for ‘space’ and I don’t think actually heard me when I attempted to start a conversation with her as we set off. Ironically after a few hundred yards when I’d just decided to set my own steady pace and leave her to it, I actually had all the space around me, while J 50 yards in front was still in a pack of people. There was the most enormous buzzard overhead on the starting half-mile and J (usually a birdwatcher) was completely oblivious to it.

R caught me up as we reached the bottom of the hill and prepared to set out along the field to the lake, and given how close behind me he finished (we’ll come to that later!) presumably stayed not far behind me for the rest of the race though I was blissfully unaware of this and pootling along in my own little world. I saw The Buzzard, many gulls, swans, ducks and heard something making an odd noise at the bottom end of the lake, though I didn’t see the owner of the little voice…

J was getting an increasing lead by this point – I was waving at her from the other side of the lake as she started her second lap ahead of me – and the irony of doing the same thing the year before when I was finishing my second lap and she was starting hers was not lost upon me! I caught a glimpse of a pink-sided ninja vest as I joined the straight along the field and she was reaching the end of it, and that was it until the finishing straight at the end of the hill! Last year, it was me that was ahead and I must confess to sneaking a walk in on the long hill back up to the finish line, while J (very indignant when she found this out) had kept a steady pace up and managed to make it up the whole thing. I don’t think I’m capable of ever being quite as stubborn as J when it comes to much, but I did decide to myself that I was going to get into the J-zone and repeat her steady all-the-way-round approach of last year and make it up the hill, still pootling along.

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The Sun Shines on Sunderland – Run 2 Remember

The morning of the Run 2 Remember race in Sunderland, this article came up on my facebook news feed. Reading it really helped bring into focus for me what the charities behind the Run 2 Remember series are working for and towards, and made me feel so incredibly lucky to still have the use of all my facilities. I haven’t really been following the Walk With the Wounded Tour of Britain, just had a general awareness that it was going on. The woman featured in the story has had most of her body rebuilt over the last few years, and then walked 1000 miles before being scheduled to have her leg amputated. That’s just the physical barriers she’s overcome. If that doesn’t make you grateful you’re able to swing yourself out of bed in the morning and sweep away all excuses for not doing something I really don’t know what will.

When I booked this race, it was to be my last 5k of the year and I was hoping for a shot at a pb – November race, should be nice and cold, flat course, good paths… A good plan except someone forgot to tell the weather what time of year it was, so it was 15-16’C and when running it felt like July, there were several long hills near the end, and I’d forgotten to take into account the fact it’s autumn so all those lovely tarmac paths were covered in wet leaves. Fun times ahead!

The course followed what I believe is the Sunderland parkrun route and it was very pretty and less hilly than the Blackhill one! J and I completely melted on the way round but we made it – down the hill, twice round the lake (fortunately a small lake as I don’t do well with laps!), along the field and then up…and more up…and up some more to the finish line! We raided the burger van for sausage rolls with onions because we’d totally earned them. We got a pretty funky medal and a goody bag filled with yummies, and for some reason low sodium salt in vast quantities…

I enjoyed this one 🙂 A good reason to get up on a Sunday morning – though personally I would have liked it about 10 degrees colder!

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You can download the GPX data for this course from my Dropbox account by following the link below:

GPX data on Dropbox

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Pier 2 Pier Run 2015 – 11km

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!

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Sunderland 10k 2015

Well, today was a stark contrast to the last 10km road race I did! Tyneside only a few weeks ago was blue skies and blazing sunshine, and today at the Stadium of Light in Sunderland it was bucketing it down with rain and I prefer not to think it could have been wetter or windier! Of course, now I’m sitting inside typing away at the computer the clouds have mostly cleared and the skies are blue with a gusty breeze…nice running weather – not too hot.

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J and I donned that runner’s bad weather favourite, the Bin Bag for our pre-race loitering and getting to the start line. We both obviously looked ridiculous – a little like a pair of bugs poking out of cocoons, or in my case possibly someone in a straight jacket heading for the loony bin…but we had a good giggle anyway 😉 Probably if I hadn’t had it on, it would have been worse, but we were both still cold and wet before we’d even got to the stadium let alone the start line! Getting out of bed this morning was madness let alone trying to leave the house for an outdoor event!

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