Going to a race that is as big as Blaydon for the first time is a bit of a learning experience...having decided to drive to Blaydon and get a bus into Newcastle for the start nice and early everything seemed to be going ok. The long queues for the ladies portaloos (not sure why there were no mens but everyone was using them anyway!) was able to be accomodated into the timetable, as was getting my kit onto the Blaydon baggage bus and warming up in the hustle and bustle of Newcastle. What a strange mix of shoppers, masses of runners and people starting hen nights, stag nights and general partying...not to mention the can can girls! All part of the Blaydon experience.
The race info said to get to the start nice and early as we would need to be lined up by about 5.35. Conscious that a good start was needed I decided to do my homework. First I asked a marshall where the best place to be to get a good start. This side of the fence he assured me and close to this area pointing to the traffic lights. Which direction do we go..."West!" he replied....Thanks...
Ok so far...then the masses descended on the area and I was in what I thought was a prime area for the start when I saw a couple of North Shields Poly lads. Local knowledge I thought and followed them as they worked their way up the road to get to the "prime spot to get a good start!" so after a lot of winding through the crowd I thought right that's great I am sorted. After a couple of minutes there was a bit of movement from all angles and suddenly the race was off......surely not 15 minutes early where was the famous bell ringing, the sing song come to think of it any kind of warning that the race was underway. This was just the race to the start line. I found myself probably in the middle of something like the 15th row from the start with no chance of moving. In front of me must have been a couple of hundred runners. I decided to accept fate and stick to where I was rather than try and improve my position.
First mile was a mass of bodies a bit like the frenzy of an open water swim where everyone wants a good start and goes off like crazy only so slow after a couple of hundred metres and become a moving obstacle to everyone else. In the end the 5.31 mile wasn't too bad but I dread to think what that would have been like if I had a better start. Then the rain came !
I don't think I have ever run in such torrential rain with rivers of water crossing the carriageway - the sight probably makes for great action shots if anyone had been brave enough. Actually the support along the route was unbelievable considering the weather.
Splits were: Mile 1 - 5.31, Mile 2- 5.13, Mile 3 - 5.17, Mile 4 - 5.29, Mile 5 - 5-37. Ended up finishing the 5.75 (Garmin distance !) in 31.20.
Not sure of my finishing position but in the last mile caught Rosie Smith (4th lady) and Les Smith (fellow Vet 40). Les had a bit more in his legs and took me down in the last half mile. I have seen a photo on facebook of Les on the front row at the start now I'm not making excuses or anything but..... Well done Les on a great run!
Just in front of me were 3rd lady (Alyson Dixon - 2.35 Marathon runner) and local lad Andy Chadfield of Billingham Marsh House.
So i survived the Blaydon Race...probably be back next year a little bit wiser and a bit more race savvy - hopefully I wont need to get past a couple of hundred of runners in the first mile although it made for an interesting experience! It reminded me of a recurring dream I used to have where I missed the start of a race and started from the back....I did actually do that in the Nottingham Half Marathon a long time ago which is another story!
There are some great photos here from Runner Wanderings.