Runner's World (UK)
A TYNE AND MOTION STUDY
Paul Gilder helps the Blaydon Race celebrate 40 years of old-fashioned road running
HELD ON THE SAME
date – June 9 – each summer since 1981, the Blaydon Race has grown from its modest beginnings (212 people took part that first year) to a behemoth that attracts close to 5,000 runners.
On a glorious summer’s evening, runners made their way along Newcastle’s streets to the starting pens, passing Balmbra’s, the nowderelict music hall featured in The Blaydon Races, the Geordie folk song that, pre-race, was hollered enthusiastically and upon which this event is based. The singing over, the race (an unusual distance of 5.7 miles) started with the ringing of a historic handbell that dates back to 1862, and we were off, on a route that largely followed the one punters are said to have taken to the famous horse races over the river in nearby Blaydon, 157 years ago.
The first mile twisted through the city’s claustrophobic streets, the more nimble runners negotiating slender gaps between the barriers and jostling for position.
We snaked up Westgate Road’s slopes, before curving back down, around the striking Centre for
Life and heading out towards Newcastle’s western outskirts.
Tracking the River Tyne as it heads westward, we pounded along the blissfully wide dual carriageway of Scotswood Road. Far ahead, a battle raged among sub-elite runners vying for the title of First Geordie Finisher.
The rest of us snatched a breather, and enjoyed one of the many bands strung out along the course, before we trotted across Scotswood Bridge, and over the lapping Tyne, its waters shimmering in the evening sunshine.
The middle third was a blur of twisting and turning, first heading
Last finisher: No. of finishers:
35:00 35:00–44.59 45:00–59.59
1:00+ back east before turning west once more – then, as the finish grew closer, the atmosphere picked up; the crowds grew and we could hear a muffled hubbub in the distance.
Roadworks had forced the race to be cut down to 5.2 miles and the finish to be moved to a supermarket car park that, while unlovely to look at, was big enough for a few hundred spectators to roar each runner home. As I hobbled to one of the buses laid on to take us back to Newcastle city centre, I examined the contents of my goody bag: (a Blaydon Race ale, pease pudding sandwiches and crisps) and listened to the plans being laid by my fellow runners, most of which seemed to involve celebrating their achievement long into the night.
Equinox is one of the older of the relatively few 24-hour UK races. It was staged for the first time in 2013, and it’s as enjoyable now as it was then. Starting and finishing at midday, you can compete solo (why? WHY?) or in teams of up to eight people to see how many laps of the 10K course you can complete in 24 hours. The route round the grounds of Belvoir Castle, Leicestershire, is a mix of asphalt and grass, with a few climbs to slow your momentum – a couple of
Some races make the most of their medals Equinox