By Jeremy Smith
The Blyth Sands 5 mile race is, as I mentioned in my report last year, a unique handicap race where you are given a time handicap based on age and sex. This means that women aged 55 and over are given a 13 minutes time advantage, and meant that (as an over 45) I have a 3 minutes time advantage, over men under the age of 40.
The race starts on the beach at Blyth near the coloured beach huts (also near the start of the 10k which forms part of the Grand Prix series organised on Tuesday evenings during the Autumn/Winter). We then run towards the pier, turn around, run pass the start all the way along the beach towards Seaton Sluice, where we turn back and finish near the huts. Unlike the two previous occasions where I have run the race, the weather was warm, but unfortunately the tide was coming in this year, rather than going out, and this meant that conditions under foot were more difficult – you had the choice between running in the sea (and have cold feet) or run on the uneven sand. I tried both options – wet and cold feet was the better option! There was, however, more sand on the beach this year so this meant it was easier clambering over the groynes (the wooden fences on the beach that are intended to prevent the sand drifting too far) although you had to take care if you tried to hurdle them – the landing area was often two/three below the jumping area!
The first three places were filled by women – the winner (Alison Cummings of NSP) had started first in the women aged 55 and over category – with the quickest time from Iain Twaddle (also NSP), who must have overtaken me after a mile even though he started a minute later. I managed to retain my title of the over 45 male winner in an almost identical time to last year (although I’m not sure what that says – all that training and it only makes five seconds difference!).
Last year I recommended the race, but no one from Claremont took up the challenge – I think it’s a lovely race, brilliantly organised by Blyth (what nice people) and such fun.
An identical time Jeremy, but a day after an awesome run at the cross-country! That training must be working. I would have joined you if not for an injury.