By Lorna Pearson
Well everyone had been speculating about the weather all week and as I left the house it was bright blue skies and sun – I thought, “Yes, it’s going to be dry”.
Arriving at the Bigg Market the place was already heaving with runners; wandering around I spied my first Claremont vest, Ashley near the start. So I set up camp and slowly the sky blue vests started to congregate. It was nice to see everyone was prepared and knew what was going on??! Paul Scrafton was very glad we mentioned the course had changed or he would had a bit of a surprise after Scotswood Bridge; though as he said you could hardly go the wrong way. Chris H thought we were running in the opposite direction at the start, as we were explaining the course to Saifel; so don’t follow him on a training night?! It was great to see that Claremont had a good turn out and as we looked at the clouds, we just wanted to start.
It had steadily dulled since I had arrived but the clouds were darkening and it started raining; not that heavily, just big spots. Then came the free for all as we were allowed onto Moseley Street, most of the lads clambered over the barriers; while Sionna and I decided to not to try and break our necks and went round the end of them. Once we were in, time seemed to stop; the clock on the cathedral didn’t seem to move. The bell ringers were stood watching from the roof; which I thought looked a wee bit dangerous. Faster runners valiantly tried to make their way to the front as we waited for the gun; then we started moving forward to the start. The hooter went, the cathedral bells started ringing and as we went past the start the Blaydon bell was rang by the Mayor and Mayoress.
It had started to rain harder, so I fixed my mind on the finish at Shibdon fields and tried to ignore it. I haven’t been running very well in the last year, so my aim was just to finish and NOT BE LAST??! Plus I wanted to make it out of Newcastle before being passed by the sweeper vehicle; so being asked to run on the pavement.
Running up Westgate Road, Tom O and Dave R passed me doing well. It was nice to see Dave back racing, after a long layoff due to injury. I was at the Centre of Life, when the rain became heavier and then the Heavens opened. By the time we were on Scotswood Road, it was torrential and I renamed it Scotwood River. I didn’t need a sweeper vehicle to ask me to go on the path, I did anyway. The water was over your ankles and where there were junctions, as the road slightly slopes from right to left; you were running through streams as it flowed downhill. The pavement was the shallowest safest place to be but you still had to brave the water when crossing the junctions. Any runners who ran on the right side of the road, not under water, were sprayed as cars and buses went past the other way through the water.
So not even 2 miles into the race; everyone round me was soaked to the skin and doing very good impersonations of ‘drowned rats’. Then I heard a voice yell my name. I looked round and Paul R was out supporting us, stood under a nice dry bus stop; I was so jealous of this but he spurred me on telling me I wasn’t last for once and not by a long shot. I personally thought; there’s still a long way to go and a lot people were still slowly passing me. However, this race has really made me realise its lovely and means more to be cheered by someone you know; especially in conditions like they were.
The rest of the race literally went by like a blur; I had to abandon my glasses, the rain was so bad. Coming up to the Scotswood Bridge, the rain started to ease and some fellow toon park runners were spectators (under another bus stop!); which again cheered me up. I then negotiated the roads and industrial estate after a welcome sip of water under the Scotswood Bridge; managing the slopes up over bridges and the flyover. However, this part seemed to go on forever as I felt like I went round in circles as the route crossed over itself and doubled back on itself to reach the end. Saying that I’ve always thought the road back along to Blyth from Seaton Sluice went on forever till I ran along Scotswood Road. Mind, really bad conditions probably does this on any course.
Anyway I finally reached Blaydon and battled to keep my legs going a little longer; by this time I was really cold from running in wet gear. Going past the buses and luggage area, I jumped out of my skin as Jonny and Julie yelled out their support and I passed Bob who had just finished. By this time I’d given up on avoiding puddles and just ploughed through them; I think these conditions are revenge for the very mild weather we’ve enjoyed for cross country season this year.
Then I saw the finish area, heard my friend yell out as I passed by and looked at the race clock. It was coming up to 70 minutes, bar a few seconds, and my competitive streak took over. I sprinted for the line (a miracle in itself at the moment) and made it by 1 second; confirmed by the timer saying 59(secs) as I went past. My ‘own watch time’ said 59 and ‘10’ish, I started it off before I crossed the start line as I was a bit confused exactly where it was. I collected my goody bag and started thinking I wish I’d brought a towel but with my new dry Blaydon top on I felt a lot better. Even more so later on in the warm, with food and a hot cup of tea.
Reflecting on my time, I think the course was slightly short as I had passed 5 miles dead on 60 and I didn’t run any faster after that especially with all the ups and downs at the end. So couldn’t have done the last 0.9 miles in what I did. Therefore I now wait to see what my official time is, wrapped up warmly hoping not to catch cold. By the way did anyone’s programme survive the weather? Even though it had been in the bag, every page was stuck together.
So far I’ve seen the top 50 places (un-official), so well done Brendon; ‘30th’ up seven places from last year.
Did I enjoy it? Yes, in a weird way because it was a challenge and battle against the elements. I did go off too fast but I’m glad I did Allendale 8 last week; it certainly helped with the inclines of this course. Finally, on a good note for the weather; at least it washed out all the sand from my trainers that I hadn’t been able to shift from the Pier to Pier.