This report submitted by Graham Leslie:
Wallsend Harriers have been hosting the Gordon Smith Relays since 1996 in memory of their long-serving chairman. Once run on a course at St Peter’s Basin they now take place nearby what was Swan Hunters shipyard, using a combination of footpaths and pavements. The race HQ used to be at the Ship Inn, right by where the well-known Wallsend cranes were, but the pub closed a couple of years ago and is now boarded up.
Today a church hall not far from the Metro station is used for registration and refreshments. A record numbers of teams entered the race this year and Claremont were well-represented, fielding five teams of two senior men plus a veteran. It was a cold and grey evening but it was nice and warm in the crowded hall as the teams were sorted out and numbers allocated. One or two of the longer-standing Claremont runners considered what would make our crack team if all past and present members were available.
Each of the three legs is almost exactly two miles and mostly flat. The finish though comes after a sharp turn and short killer of a hill, challenging for tired legs. I was running second leg and lined up with the others waiting for our first-leg runners to finish. It wasn’t easy to see through the mass of runners but the officials did a good job of making sure everyone knew when to start. The first time I’d run this relay I’d never done a race of less than 10K so wasn’t sure how to pace it. Bob’s advice to me was to start off fast and not slow down. Simple really!
Morpeth finished first , closely followed by Wallsend and North Shields Poly. Claremont’s ‘A’ team came home in a creditable position of 25th given the number of entries (96) and the strong competition from other local teams. Our fastest senior was Luke Bryant in a time of 11 minutes 3 seconds and Jeremy Smith wasn’t far behind in 11 minutes 22 seconds, which made him our quickest veteran.
Well done to everyone who turned up on a cool and windy May evening to run or give their support and thanks to Wallsend for another well-organised race.