Rose Hawkswood, ultra runner supreme, has sent us this report of Sunday’s lunacy, which she has titled “The Ramblings of a Tired Runner“.
I’ll have to start with a disclaimer to this race report, although we had a wonderful day out it was a long day out, and I can’t be sure to the level of exaggeration or underestimation that may or may not be made in this race report.
To be completely honest even at 6.30am on Sunday morning I wasn’t even sure if I was going to join the Claremont 35 Relay or alternately make my way to Leeds to scream fanatically at some incredible triathletes (especially as Sarah True, Gwen Jorgensen and Javier Gomes were racing). I decided there would be plenty more opportunities to watch a triathlon and this was the only time that Claremont would be 35!
So off to Jesmond Metro I went, in the pouring rain to be met by Nina, Roberto, Sumanth and Terry. The mini bus arrived with Bill, John and Janet aboard to whom this day could not have happened without them.
The mini bus arrived at Haydon Bridge around half 9 after picking up Jamie, Leanne, Mary, Tom, Mungai and Julie on route. The declared 35 milers were Nina, Julie, Mungai, Roberto, Jamie and Sumanth. While the rest of us were just looking forward to seeing how far we’ll make it, although in all honestly the only way I was getting back on that mini bus was if a leg fell off.
The start in Haydon Bridge at 9.42am on Sunday 12th June 2016 (all according to my watch) Janet blew the whistle to get us running, but I can honestly say we weren’t running for long as we crossed into a field of long wet grass that would make Mathew Bank look like a bump. Our shoes were wet for the day and hopefully the worst hill is done, we hadn’t even done a mile to complete the first section of the day. What have I let myself into?!
To reaffirm my complete ignorance for the day ahead I had no idea where we were for most (all) of the time, and less of an idea of where we were heading. Thankfully Bill and Janet were excellent guides and while they weren’t running sections Jamie became our Man with a Map who kept us on course (mostly, but that’s for later).
The route had plenty of uphill with the first 2 sections being a 166m climb over 2 miles. I’m sure that would be described as mildly undulating course if this were a race. Never fear we walked up the majority of these and were rewarded with stunning views of Northumberland’s glorious green lands.
Throughout the run we encountered the best and the worst of the outdoors. The best being little lambs bouncing around fields, inquisitive horses and cows wondering what that awful smell is that’s just entered their field, and fields full of colour with wild flowers. While the worst being nettles.
I don’t believe there had been any drama until around mile 7 (for Mungai this was about 7.3miles, but again more on that later), when Bill directed down us a narrow path which in April was fine, but as we went single file though the over grown stinging nettles began to attack. It isn’t an exaggeration that some were taller than Leanne, but we’d gone too far to turn back. At that point we became survivors of the Battle against the Nettles.
On a positive note, what could be worse than that?! We had arrived at Warden Bridge and we were running along the Tyne for the first time, and the weather was fine. As the miles passed we plodded though Hexham, Corbridge (where Richard and Marie joined us, unfortunately their first leg was a mini bus ride), Riding Mill where Richard started his first leg of the run. While Mary attempted her first leg of the run on the mini-bus, for it to be thwarted by Roberto who encouraged her to keep going just one more section. We had run 17 miles which is fantastic in itself. We also had the likes of Mungai with us who we all know can’t stay still so while most of us had done 17 miles, Mungai was on 17.5 mile purely from his non-stop nature during check point breaks.
We continued from Riding Mill, running some more through beautiful scenery of woodlands, fields and the odd road was crossed. It was smooth sailing plodding though the miles making it to Stocksfield. Unfortunately in Stockfield we had all seemed to have lost our bearings. A small confusion at the start but we were away on an adventure and Jamie being the Man with a Map directing the way. Unfortunately our sense of direction didn’t appear to improve as we ploughed through a field which may or may not have been the correct field, and we found ourselves at the train tracks with a dead end to the west and gate that defiantly wasn’t for climbing to the east. An executive decision was made to conquer the gate, under, over and around it we scrambled to get to the mini-bus waiting for us in Prudhoe. We still were unsure of our location and where to go, but thankfully Roberto ran ahead and ask for directions using his Italian charm and short shorts. Finally Prudhoe here we come, although along the road rather than the country path set out for us.
I believe this is where Marie started her run and we were joined by Dave, fortunately this pit-stop I used as an eating competition and I won. I can remember eating a lemon yumyum, a couple of handfuls of nuts, flapjacks, chocolate covered rice crispies, bread and butter, ham, cheese, and a tomato (there may have been more, as I was running with food in my hands too). I’d made the fatal error of thinking a mouthful here and there would sustain me, and how wrong I was. It did take a couple more miles for it all to settle, but by that point 26.2 miles was in sight.
I have only run one half marathon race in 1.59.15, and my furthest distance was 19.1 miles when 401 Ben came to town in May and that included a 45 minute break for lunch. So to be only a few miles off the marathon distance was fantastic, I was going to be running my first marathon. What was even better, is that I’d saved my second pair of socks for when we made it to Wylam, NEW SOCKS, oh just thinking of them waiting for me was bliss. First I had to make it to Wylam.
Wylam carpark: new socks and a new marathon runner in the Claremont Club, Me.
10 miles to go, and they just felt like they were relatively easy. Nice paths, no more tramping through fields and up 45° hills. The legs just kept going and how could I take a break when I’ve already run so far and there is so little left. In truth every aspect of my body was tired, even my face was sore.
In no time we’d eaten up the miles and were gliding though Newburn, Lemington, Denton Dene and for the second time that week gannin alang Scotswood Road getting closer and closer to the concrete balls on the Quayside. The lead pack comprising of Roberto, Mungai and Myself (who would have thought that eh!) were speeding up and as we knew we were getting closer and closer to the finish.
It was no surprise to see Lorna cheering everyone to the finish, although my watch was only saying 34.93 miles so with Roberto and Mungai we rounded up to the full mile. I think at this point both Mungai and Roberto were getting to 36 miles. As the rest of the team made it in for the final(ish) mile of the day we had 7 victors of the 35 miles: Jamie, Julie, Mungai, Nina, Roberto, Sumanth and Myself. Ultrarunners!
Mary, Leanne, Richard, Tom and Marie all racked up big miles too. Rutger does deserve a mention for running from Wylam to Newcastle but unfortunately due to carpark confusion (which there had been throughout the day) we ran away from him.
What a day. What a wonderful 35 miles.
And the extra 1.2 mile to the pub, the most important 1.2 miles of the day.