Blaydon Races – report.

9th June 2014, by Sarah Attwood

Every year since I started running in 2011 my Geordie husband has been telling me to run the iconic Blaydon Races. This year on the 3rd of February I finally bit the bullet and entered the 5.9 mile race when the first 1500 places opened to club runners. The following day the remaining 2500 places opened to all runners where they were “snapped up within 4 hours”.

The Blaydon Races is organised by the Blaydon Harriers and is now in its 34th year, having first been ran in 1981, organised by Dr James Dewar.

The race is held on the 9th of June at 19:45 annually, so this year it fell on a Monday. The race starts in the Cloth Market (outside Balmbras) in Newcastle and finishes in the playing fields in Blaydon. It runs through some of the busiest roads in Tyneside, which are closed to traffic shortly after the start of rush hour. This requires mammoth organisation.

Each year the race adopts a local charity, raising large amounts for them, this year it was the Toma fund.

We arrived at Balmbras at 17:30 to join in with the pre-race celebrations (music, live bands, dancers etc), Whilst here I met a fellow Harrier, Vivianne Fraser who had run the race several times and who gave me some tips on the course.

For 4,000 runners I was surprised to see only 10 porter loos at the start, however whilst queuing for them I was told by fellow runners that the local bars and restaurants were allowing runners to use their facilities. A police man (to my surprise) also told the men in front of me that they could go behind one of the buildings if they wished, everyone seemed to be in good spirits.

At 18:55 I went to my “pen” whilst the Blaydon Belle Sash was presented to a lucky lady. The famous “Blaydon Races” tune (http://youtu.be/61aOwigj_8E) was then played. The club runners were assembled in the first pen with all other runners behind in 2 segregated pens. There were no time zones.

The race started promptly at 19:15 by the Lord Mayor of Newcastle Upon Tyne, using the Jackie Brown 1862 hand-bell. The club runners went first and then the other runners’ followed suit in 30 second intervals. There was chip timing so this did not affect finishing times.

The course, I was told “was all down hill”, this was slightly miss-leading as there were a fair few bits up hill and over bridges and on the flat. However when you compare the course to some of the recent 10ks in the summer league and the up coming Bishop Wilton you cant really complain. Over all the course was pretty flat and fast with more downhill than uphill sections.

The course goes past the centre of life as it leaves Newcastle. You run “alang” the famous (and mostly downhill) Scotwood road and then over the Scotswood bridge on to Derwenthaugh Marina. Here (3.8 miles) was the water station that was greatly received with it being a warm sunny evening (disappointingly after the cooler rainy day). From there you run over another bridge, along chainbridge road and over the fly over “reet inta Blaydon Toon” finishing in the playing field that had a carnival atmosphere.

The start of the race was quite congested but by the time you reached Scotswood Road the field had spread out and you could get into a rhythm. My aim was to run at 6:30mm as I did recall some uphill sections in Bladyon that I thought I would be running up (despite people telling me otherwise). Before I knew it I was running at 6:15 mm quite comfortably, getting carried away with the long down hill section. I decided to hold myself back alittle, which I was glad of as I approached some of the uphill sections. By mile 3 I was overheating and was wishing the water station closer, I was so relieved to see it by the marina as I ran over the bridge. I paused at the water station for a few seconds to have a few mouthfuls of water (I still haven’t mastered the art of drinking from a cup whilst running) before setting off again. At this point most people (myself included) started to slow, however I was able to pick people off, including at least 3 women in front of me and I didn’t see anyone over take me except one man.

The mile markers were slightly out. As I ran past the 5 mile marker my watch said 5.1 so I had it in my head I would be running a total of 6 miles. However at 5.7 miles I saw the finish up in front. I sped up but it was a little too late. It was a nice surprise however to see it so soon and I finished strong, cheered on by huge crowds at the end.

My watch measured the race as 5.8 miles. The winning man finished in 26:34 mins and the winning women in 29:42 min.

My chip time was 37:25 (6:22mm)

Vivianne Fraser got 52:12 (9:05mm)

Every runner was given a finisher’s bag that contained; a bottle of Blaydon race beer, a stottie sandwich (ham and peas pudding), a packet of crisps, orange juice, a bottle of water, a certificate, a programme and a technical T shirt. We promptly received a text with our race times, and all the results were on the website by the following morning.

We didn’t go to the presentation at the end due to needing to get home, however the prize list was extensive and many spot prizes are apparently given.

Over all the race was well organised, well supported, fun and enjoyable and certainly worth the entry fee (£20 attached/£22 not attached). I plan to return next year in the search for a faster time!blaydon 2014a

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