OK, I give in. After waiting for most of the week for somebody else to write the Allendale race report, I thought I might as well do it myself (this therefore excuses me from race report duties for the Blaydon!)
Of course, this wasn’t just a race but a Claremont day out. It didn’t get off to a promising start as it was raining when we left Newcastle on the coach, but it cleared up as we headed into the wilds of South Northumberland. Not everybody on the coach was there for the run, some went off walking and others made the most of the attractions of the Allendale Fair, but our 14 runners meant that about 10% of the field was in sky blue.
The race starts and finishes in the centre of the town and, as we were there early, the veterans of the run took delight in showing us first timers the hill leading up to the finish line. The road sign saying 17% told me all I needed to know. Then one of the marshals informed us that it was undulating rather than hilly – she lied!
By 11 o’clock when the race started, it was brightening up and was a nice day for running. Not too hot and no wind which makes a change from my usual Saturday morning run on the Town Moor. The first couple of miles are fairly flat with beautiful views across the valley. I could see Matthew slightly ahead and soon realised that Alasdair was on my shoulder. We ran together for a short while before Alasdair put on a bit of a spurt and opened up a gap of a few metres on me.
The course then descended into the valley and up the other side. There were a few ups and downs, and then, around the 4 mile point, we were warned by a sign on the side of the road to take care “very steep descent ahead”. The sign didn’t say that it was followed by a very steep ascent. There was another “steep descent” and a few more uphill stretches until, somewhere after 6 miles, there were a couple of children holding a sign saying “downhill all the way from here – until the last bit”. And what a last bit! George Routledge was taking photographs at the bottom of the hill and I joked with him that I could still manage a smile. He responded to say that he would be more impressed if I could smile at the top of the hill. He was right – I’d hoped to get up the hill and at least sprint the last few yards, but there was no chance, the final hill was hell. I just about made it to the top and must have made a sorry sight as I crossed the line.
For most of the race I’d been able to see Alasdair just ahead and Matthew not that far in front again. Matthew had a strong finish to be first Claremonter home, followed by Alasdair who took the prize for first over 50. Graham defended his title as first over 60 and there was an impressive run from Charlotte to win the prize for 3rd lady. So it was a successful day for Claremont as well as an enjoyable one.
After the race we could sample the delights of the Allendale Fair. There were rides and amusements for the kids, a choice of good pubs for the adults, and various stalls and food offerings for all. The entertainment in the main square chiefly consisted of a strong man competition and karaoke on the main stage (I know Shelley was very impressed with the standard of singing). The sun had come out and was sufficiently strong to send me home with a red nose and ears, so I think a good day out was had by all.
The race itself is a gem – all on tarmac but no traffic, beautiful views, mile markers and good signage, well marshaled by the friendly locals and a killer hill to finish. I’d highly recommend it and hope to be back next year.