Report by Terry Welsh
For some of us, the turn of the year is not the same without the Morpeth to Newcastle Road Race. Older Claremonters say that they felt privileged to have run in the 100 year old classic on New Years Day, while younger ones have told me that they regret that the Morpeth was finished before they started running.
Last week I completed and sort of invented a new challenge that could be like the old Morpeth in keeping whatever makes you run as well nourished over the holiday period as your body and your soul.
The Festive Foursome.
Four races in eight days
On Christmas morning , on the bleak midwinter Moor, the rain darkly poured and the mud was deep and sticky and uneven. The 9 am special Park Run, and 135 bedraggled souls, most of them in soaking santa hats, peered through the water at Ian Kirtley, the starter, who yelled “ You’re all mad “. Who wants everything for Christmas except madness? As Tom said, the surface water on the course was no worse than the flooded area, so we ran through the lot.. A jolly Christmas time was had by all.
The following morning, Boxing Day, gathered with me by the beach at Whitley Bay were 500 competitors in the Woodlawn Christmas Pudding Run. The Devil was out to destroy the Christmas spirit as he threw a howling wind from the cold coast of Greenland straight onto the runners , ripping flesh from our bones and making the watching Cullercoats fishermen and fishwives glad of their new oilskins and jumpers. We laughed at him and we raced the 3.1 miles along the promenade for the sole reward of a small Christmas Pudding. No doubt this caused joy in many a family household when it was taken home.
On Saturday morning December 29th, many people headed to Gateshead to go to the Metrocentre sales, but 62 men and women were heading to the sound of a different drum to Saltwell Park. I was a Gateshead first timer. The course there is full of twists and turns and hills, ideal for the sharp and nippy runners, while Newcastle suits long striding gallopers. The tracks were solid but slippy and long dead leaves lying in the dampness promised treachery and disaster .Once again it was pouring, and the wet gear from the christmas run got wet again. Once again it was cold and once again , judging by the manic expressions on faces, everybody looked like they were having a great time.
The fourth leg wasn’t planned but when I was coming round on New Years morning, I noticed that it was a glorious sunny day ouside. Robert Peston came on the radio wabbling on about whether we would lose our Triple A Credit rating in 2013. I had to get out into a better life and I got in the car and went to Morpeth. Those of us who ran the 11k had a New Year treat because the bad weather had taken a day off. The first part of the run was hard work because it was all uphill. Then comes a long flat stretch when the climbing is done and I could see all over Northumberland across to the Simonsides and the Cheviots and all the winter fields looked golden in the light of a low and bright sun. My shadow was leaping and waving, loving the chance to get out. There was a nice feeling., euphoria or something And there is a glorious fifth mile, all downhill into Morpeth. Even now the words Morpeth combined with New Years Day can make me drool with fond memory and association.
So next year why not get a new target.
I’ve checked my diary, and in 2013 Christmas Day will be on December 25th, Newcastle Park Run, Boxing Day December 26th, Woodlawn Pudding Run, and the Morpeth on January 1st 2014. Gateshead Park Run that week will be on Saturday 28th.
I can’t wait for Christmas,
Forget about doing the Bob Graham or the Marathon de Sables , try the Festive Foursome.
And thanks to all the volunteers at the four races.