|In Full: Having been told, or hoodwinked, one of the two, by David Goodfellow, that it was a 14K race when I submitted my entry, it was with some trepidation that I turned up for the bus to the start line at Beadnell now knowing it was miles not kilometres. Having only been training this year over 6 mile runs and Stewy’s track sessions, I feared I’d struggle to make the finish.
There was a straightforward ride up on the bus with shots being passed around – though I didn’t partake in drinking them. Upon leaving Consett the weather was overcast – ideal running weather. It remained that way until disembarking the bus in Beadnell, where the sun was out in full force. It was like stepping off the plane on holiday. I immediately turned around and took the factor 50 out of my bag, and copious amounts were shared out amongst fellow bounders.
Registration was pretty straightforward, numbers and chips were fitted and off to the beach we all went. After half an hour of chatter word went around that the start was delayed by 15 minutes. By now the sun was blazing and it was generally agreed this was going to make it a hard one hydration wise. Eventually the start line was put in place. We assembled across the sand and off we went.
First obstacle, not a hundred yards in, was lots of slippery seaweed covered rocks to navigate. After that, it was then roughly a mile and half across water laden sand, instantly putting on around half a kilo in weight on each foot. I thought the pace was fast and when I checked my Garmin after half a mile or so I was right. I pulled back a bit and also out to the right where the sand was firm but not so wet.
By the time the first section on the sand was ending, it was a welcoming sight to see a single file track with people having to slow to a walk to get through. Just the right amount of time to get your breath back and take in the situation. On to harder ground now, and no seawater, which made the next section a lot easier and allowed me to steady into a comfortable pace. I kept a few fellow bounders in front in my sights, and used them as markers to gauge my pace against. I was still struggling at this point with my shins and calves feeling really tight, but I know now from experience it takes me roughly 4-5 miles sometimes to loosen them up and run comfortably.
Around this point a few bounders came past me, Mark Berry, Terri Cartmell and Mrs P! So again I used them as a gauge and hung on in behind them. Around this stage also was a welcoming water point – a few in the mouth, and the rest over body to cool down did the trick. We were joined by David Goodfellow at this point also. Back on to the beach for the next session, and after a mile or so I’d separated from fellow bounders and spotted Stoo Gordon up ahead. I eventually caught up with him just as you leave the sand again up by the ruins of Dunstanburgh Castle, where I took a picture of him with it the background. I ran with Stoo for a few miles, until round about when we came out on to the road section, this stretch I covered by myself and by now was starting to feel the lack of distance training so out came the isogel which seemed to assist. Around this time Mark berry came past again, but I had to let him go as I was struggling.
The next bit was a bit of a blur, but I know somewhere along the line it was a welcoming cup of water and a “go on Juss” from Ian Young that perked me up. It was then back on to some grassed area where I hooked up with a guy who ran out of Start Fitness. We had a bit craic and a few miles until I realised he was holding me back a bit and I set off again after consuming another gel.
Back on to what I can only describe as a farmers track and I passed Mark Berry around what I think would have been roughly the 9-10 mile mark. By now in my head I’m thinking along the lines of “worst case scenario its 30-35 more minutes of running Juss, and that’s it that’s it. Knuckle down, only you can beat yourself now”
After coming off the farmers track it was down a slight hill, across the little bridge and the most welcoming sight, an incline on a single track which everyone was walking up… great another mini rest! Needless to say I took it
A few more miles of running and it’s a sharp left and down on to the beach, this is it, final bit! So off I go. I’m struggling, but looking back as I round the first bay there’s no one behind me. so I thought “I can have a small walk here and I won’t lose any positions” but just as I slowed to a walk with my head down, I hear “howay Juss, we’re taking pictures! Come on, not far now, you’re doing great!” I look up to see Stacy, Amanda and a load of other Bounders. More importantly I can see the finish line now, so I picked up my game again and ran off with cheers all around me from fellow Bounders. I’m already buzzing like mad, but then from nowhere a Sea King helicopter came flying past really low. I looked up and the crew were waving. There was no-one else around me, they were waving at me! I felt the adrenalin rushing up the back of my neck and I’m actually thinking (I’ll leave the expletives out ) “I FLIPPING LOVE THIS! COME ON!” or words to that effect! The Sea King circled around from the finish line and headed back up towards me, the crew again waving. I threw them a salute, and looked up to see that I was a few hundred yards from the finish line. There were 3 people in front of me; I reckoned I could catch 2 easily. I kicked out and passed them. I was just about to give up on the third, but somehow I found another gear and took him out too. I passed the finish line, totally knackered with legs like jelly. I need fluids but I’ve finished thank God!
I checked my Garmin and I’d done sub 2 hours, I remember at the start people said 2 hours was good for this. I was well happy. I collected my t-shirt and saw one of our guys, I think it was Tony Skeen, who told me he thinks I was 3rd Bounder in! WOW! Amazed wasn’t the word.
After initially getting on the wrong bus I found out ours was at the other end of the golf course. I had to take my trainers off to walk to it as my toes were curling under with cramps. I got to the bus, and David Walker said he also thought I’d come in third out of the Bounders – I’m ecstatic.
After taking on fluids in the form of a recovery and protein drink. I sneaked behind the bus to get changed, and finally started to feel ok about it all. I was stiff and sore but I’d done it, and I was happy I did it.
After a while of stretching and just sitting around chatting to fellow bounders, we were informed there was a group photo taking place on the beach. So we head off for said photo. It’s then everyone heads back to the bus and we are on our way home… The shots are out again, this time I took one, I’d earned this one.
This certainly isn’t a PB course and it certainly isn’t easy. but at times you look up and take it in, and what a beautiful race! You’ll struggle to find a more scenic run. The support was great by both Bounders and the locals. In reality I couldn’t fault it; it was a good, but truly testing race. I just hadn’t prepared for it as well as I should have done. Maybe next year, but then again maybe not.