A slightly belated report on my first ever foray into the North Shields Poly Grand Prix …
Well, technically the Blyth 10K was the first but that is open to many more participants and I had done it before (and highly recommend it to anybody who hasn’t), so my first “proper” Grand Prix was last Tuesday night. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect and arrived at the car park by the Briar Dene too early, though not as early as Jonathan Gilroy who had been waiting in the pub to keep warm! I think that both of us were wondering what we had let ourselves in for and just why we had agreed to do this. However other Claremonters began to arrive and we went for a warm up jog along the road.
I couldn’t quite believe my handicap, 21 minutes 20 secs for approximately 3.5 miles but it seemed fair when compared to other Claremont start times, except Dave Saunders who was unimpressed to find that he had the same start time as me. The organisers announced that the course had been slightly altered as work was being done on the front, so it would be a simple there and back along the road in front of the Spanish City. This was met by a whoop from Heather who was pleased that we wouldn’t have the short, sharp climb from the prom to the road.
The start was well organised and there was a group of about 10 runners starting at the same time as me. I decided that, as they must be similar to me in standard and that most had probably done this before, I would try to tuck in behind the leaders of this group and see how it went. This was a fairly successful strategy, though 2 runners opened up a slight gap, I was running stride for stride with 2 others. We were soon closing the gap on the runners ahead and even overtaking a few. At the turn there is a slight downhill so I tried to push on and went in front of my 2 companions. I was now overtaking more people but some of the faster ones began to overtake me. About 400 metres from the line, one of my pacemakers from the first half went flying by me, obviously having paced himself better than me. the handicapper had obviously done agood job and I was in the middle of a big group all finishing within a few seconds of each other.
All in all, a good evening’s racing and I am now looking forward to next month. There were some good performances from the Claremont teams, with Heather being 2nd fastest lady on the night and Jonathan, Paul Robinson and Duncan all in the top 10 fastest men.
Results can be found here.