Report submitted by Nigel Cook
Report submitted by Nigel Cook
|The Race||Esthwaite Water 10k Road Race – 14th September 2014|
|Overall Score (out of a possible 35)||26|
|PB Potential||1 – Undulating!!|
|Value for Money||4|
|Club Support & Social||5|
|In Short||A lovely 10k in the Heart of the Lake District|
|In Full – The inaugural Esthwaite 10k starts from Hawkshead then takes an anti-clockwise route around Esthwaite Water, to Near Sawrey, then back to Hawkshead. The race was only £11 to enter with the proceeds going to Hawkshead Pre School. It was organised by Rocket Rod, who many Bounders will know from Lakeland Trail events. I decided to make a weekend out of it, so pre-race preparation was in true Bounders style, a heavy night-out on the Friday, 5 Wainwright Peaks on the Saturday, followed by an equally heavy night out. Arriving at the start (a sign on a gate on the main road), I bumped into Brian Richardson, who knew Rod and had also entered. With 2 Partners and a dog in toe, the Bounders supporters out-numbered the Bounders runners.
The race was started by Cedric Robinson MBE, the Queen’s Guide to the Sands. As it was ran on open, albeit quiet roads, the start was slightly chaotic with the Marshals stopping the traffic then ushering the runners onto the road to start the race.
This was all forgotten when you got away on an undulating and sometimes just damn hilly route around the lake, with Grizedale Forest on onside, Claiff Heights on the other and Esthwaite water in the middle. It has to go down as one of the most scenic runs, helped by ideal running weather, not too hot with clear visibility.
Thoroughly enjoyed the run, although did suffer from the previous 2 days excesses. It was quite a simple race with water station half-way and a medal and water at the end. Will certainly try and be back again next year.
The Somme area of France has strong connections for Brits be it as a holiday destination or for a visit to some of the major sites of the battles which took place in the First World War. Despite it’s horrific history the area is a beautiful mix of rural village life and some elegant towns and cities.
I’ve ran the Somme Marathon 3 times before but this year it promised something different, a Maratrail in other words an off road Marathon. I got to have some of this I thought so a quick e-mail application with a copy of my England Athletics registration got me entered (pay on the day 24 euros)
My running is limited to doing events as the knees won’t allow me to do the regular weekly mileage so I ‘train for the event’ by doing the event, so no quick times probably but plenty of enjoyment.
Ann and myself drove down on the Thursday and stopped overnight in the Maidstone Hilton before catching the 12 noon ferry to Dunkerque on Friday. Stephen and Lesley Daglish had an early start from Consett and joined us in Dover for the same ferry so good company already. When we got to Dunkerque we set off for a 2 hour drive to Albert for me and Amiens for Stephen (only 18 miles apart) The third leg of our social click Mike Swainson and pal Bob texted to say they were leaving Metz and would join up with Stephen in Amiens later that evening.
By 5.30 we were in our campsite at the Velodrome, Albert and the tent rigged up. Blow up double bed sorted, mains lighting, heater if required, satellite TV up and running, wine poured, I do spoil my girl!!
The next morning we were joined by Stephen, Lesley, Mike S & Bob. The start and finish for all the runs and the walk was just a few hundred yards from our campsite so it was easy to recce the start/finish area.
On offer was a Maratrail (26.2 off road) a half Marathon, a 10 and 5K plus a 6.75 mile walk. At 10 am runners were invited for ‘a small jogging’ from the centre of Albert followed by a reception for foreign runners by the Mayor and other dignitaries in the TIC, nibbles and drinks provided. Registration started at 4 pm so that left us time for coffee beer and wine and more socialising before we picked up our numbers. The weather was wam and pleasant, the temperature only dropping in the late evening.
Chilling in Albert
Up by 6 the next morning for an 8.30 start for me, temp was good about 13/14 with no wind.
We had been promised an interesting run and it sure was. A flat start into the centre of Albert and then down into the underground tunnel network which housed artefacts from the first world war, weird hoofing it through the poorly lit tunnels.
We popped out in a park by the river and worked our way through little used parts of Albert before hitting a long grassy bank beside the canal which led us out into open country. With not doing any long runs before hand I started off cautiously as my only object was just to finish the run. There was no major hills to climb but the whole area is undulating so it was constant up and downs, about 90% of the run was off road. At the 11 mile point I reached the Thiepval memoral, a huge edifice designed by Sir Edward Lutyens with the names of over 73,00 British soldiers who perished in this area and who have no known grave. Very sad but a fine memorial.
As I ran out of Thiepval I spotted Mike S and Lesley with Union Jack flags hanging off his camper van,
it’s amazing how a bit of support gets you picking up the pace. Shortly after that I ran around the Ulster Tower memorial and paused to take a picture of ‘Tommie’ still guarding the front line since 1916, he ported arms smartly for me.
Guarding the Ulster memorial
A steep downhill section followed before we had the reverse to do and a long pull up through ploughed fields, very uncomfortable to run over and the legs were starting to feel it.
Dried ruts uncomfortable underfoot
By now I had no clue as to how far I had ran or had still to go as my Garmin which had been iffy for a while had packed in and I had given it to Mike S as I passed him.
We carried on across farm tracks, over ploughed fields, leafy lanes, woods, tunnels full of manky water
and then we had a river to plodge through for about 100 meters (the Frenchies threw a wobbler and most took off their shoes before entering the river, what’s that about!!) Me I loved the chilled water so refreshing.
Post river plodge
After the river we had a good bit working our way through woods, the route markings (orange paint on the ground) were brilliant apart from a couple of places when a group of us thought we had gone off piste but a cyclist who was supporting the group of runners I was with shot off ahead and returned after a while with a thumbs up, he had found a marker so we weren’t lost (I would probably have got the blame with my navigational reputation)
The temperature had risen and near the end and I started to dream of the cool beers & wines I knew were waiting for us at the finish. Legs very weary now and it was mind over matter to keep pushing on. There was only 2 water stations on the way round, Thiepval at 11 miles and Auvley at 21 miles so you had to look after yourself for hydration.
21 miles at Auvley
I turned into the finish area and broke into a 100 meter sprint which took me over the line (it’s amazing how you can turn the energy on for a short distance and look cool getting over the line but believe you me I was goosed) A slow walk around the finish area to collect medal/t shirt and then a sight for sore eyes Mike S approaching with a ice cool beer for me.
Whilst some us had been running Ann and Bob had taken part in the walk (6.7 miles)
The finish area with table and chairs laid out under shade to sit at whilst you drank beer and wines was spot on, a bar b q sizzled away wafting delicious smells. You put your race numbers into a cardboard box and young children drew out random numbers for a free ‘tombola’ there were prizes of garmin running watches, head torches and other running kit altogether a great family type atmosphere.
Mike S was asleep in his campervan, something about knocking of two and a bit bottles of red before 3 pm, nah I’ll not mentions that!!
After a while I popped back to the campsite for a shower and whilst I was there Stephen picked up my bling prize and thanked them in his best Geordie French.
Stephen picking up the bling
And representing at the campsite
Stephen and Lesley left for home on the Monday and the rest of us stayed until the Tuesday so more time to enjoy.
Well I hope this little blog might enthuse more Bounders to take the trip over to France next year to take part in one of the Poppy Runs. You have a choice of Maratrail, Half Marathon, 10k, 5k and even a walk.
Mike Gill Sept 2014
Report submitted by Ian Young
|The Race||Great North 5K
|PB Potential||5 – Really flat course but you need to be in the first wave to be sure of a potential PB.|
|Atmosphere||5 – Part of the Great Run festival on the Quayside.|
|Organisation||5 – Really good, can`t fault it.|
|Scenery||5 – Newcastle Quayside say not more!|
|Value for Money||5 – £20 entry includes cotton t-shirt, medal, goody bag, water.|
|Beginner Friendliness||5 – Waves setting off at different times catering for every ability.|
|Club Support & Social||5 – Lots of Bounders down on the Quayside their kids taking part in the Junior & Mini Great North Run with the brilliant City Games in the afternoon.|
|In Short||If you don’t fancy paying £50 for GNR or you did not get in you can still enter this event the week leading up to the GNR weekend. Lots to see and do on the Quayside great day out for families. Recommended.|
After a busy summer, the Sunday morning off-road Away Run makes a return on the 21st of September, with a slightly shortened version of the Hanging Fox Run (approx 10 miles, ran at a very steady pace).
Starting from Parkhead Cafe at 8:30am, the route crosses the fells to Rookhope, returning to Parkhead via Rookhope incline and the old railway line – mostly on good tracks, with a river crossing thrown in for good measure!
If you’ve enjoyed the the Tuesday night pub run routes, and want to try more off-road running, then this is the ideal opportunity. Afterwards we’ll most likely stop for refeshments at the cafe.
Please come dressed for running the fells, with trail shoes, or old road shoes, and at the very least, a windproof/showerproof jacket.
Report submitted by Lee Nixon
|The Race||Pieces of 8 @Penshaw
|PB Potential||1 – No chance of PB as it was the 1st event and a really tough route.|
|Atmosphere||4 – Great! Really friendly, helpful volunteers and event staff.|
|Organisation||5 – Really good, especially for a 1st event.|
|Scenery||5 Really nice, even alongside the A19.|
|Value for Money||5 – £20 entry included tech tshirt, medal, wrist band, water and chocolate. Plenty of water stations with sweets|
|Beginner Friendliness||2 – Really tough route for a begginer or somone new to trail, but still do-able.|
|Club Support & Social||1 – Only one other Bounder there, who I saw briefly.|
|In Short||Brutal, but well worth it
|In Full This was my third trail half marathon and by far the hardest.Joanne and I arrived at Herrington Country Park, race HQ, around 8am to collect my number. There was plenty of parking and the cafe had opened early for the event. The race briefing was held in the conference room at 8:50am. With a brief but well informed rundown of the route and safety information. We then all headed out on a short walk to the start, at the foot of Penshaw monument, the 1st of a few inclines.
At just past 9am we were off and heading up the steps. Taking it nice and easy, halfway up I came across Joanne, well placed with the camera, awaiting us as we climbed and turned right to head around the side of the hill and up towards the monument. From the monument you could see the whole area, and the route we were about to run. From here, it was steps and steep downhill through fields to the first hurdle – the wooden style was almost my first and last, as I missed my footing and swang forwards on my arms close to face planting the other side. Thanks to the guy from Blyth who grabbed me. From here we headed down to the River Wear, then across it to The James’ Steel Park to do a small loop. Then off around Washington Waterfowl Park and along the river to the A19. This was a single track section with ups and downs over small bridges. You couldn’t overtake and all you could do was watch your footing or else end up in the river. Then we joined the cycle path and ran alongside the Sunderland highway (A1231). From here we should have cut through and back towards the wildfowl park. This is where I and a few others went wrong. we somehow missed the turning and followed the main road. Luckly, one of the lads knew the area, so took the lead and got us back into James’ Steel Park. We rounded the corner to see that a lady who had been behind us before we took the detour, was now in front, and there was confusion on the marshal’s face as a group of us come from a totaly different direction. In all we added around half a mile on.
We then headed back across the river and followed it once again towards the A19, on the opposite bank which was mostly flat – untill we hit THE STEPS! We were told in the briefing that these would be a good tester and a quad killer. The first well placed sign reasured us of this “Say night night quads”. I attempted to run up them, but what felt like a good distance turned out to be 15 steps at the very most with many more to go. Signs all the way up saying “road to hell” and others that I cant remember, as it all got fuzzy from then on.
Once at the top I gave running another go, but soon stopped and walked. With a bit of a relay going on within our little group. One of us would try to run and pass the rest, then give up, giving the next person a boost to give it ago. As we neared the top, I spotted the marshals and the waterstation, and most of all the jelly babies!. I knew Anita from Elvet Striders was on this station with her camera, so I started to run with a big smile on my face. Once the camera was down, I stopped dead, grabbed a drink and a big handfull of jelly babies. After a quick chat and reasurance there was only 2 miles left, I was off again running up the road.
At this point, I was at about the same level as the monument, but as I turned off the road and on to a track that dropped all the way down into the valley, I realised I would have to get back up to the finish. At the bottom we re-joined a cycle path which was good fast section. I caught up to one of the group I’d been running with previously – who at this stage had ran further then he had ever ran before. We chatted on while trying to ignore the fact we had to get back up to the monument. As we came to the road crossing, and the start of the long climb back up, the marshals laughed and said it wasn’t far or steep. We looked up and could see runners now walking half way up. We both give it a good go and managed to run up only a small section through the field. Once out of the field and on to the steps we knew the finish wasn’t far, so off we went at a slow trot. Knowing Joanne was doing photos on the finish line I started to get ready to look good, when to my horror as I came around to the gate, I saw a last set of steps and Joanne, again well placed, waiting for us camera in hand and snapping away. With a good boost from Joanne I went up the steps as fast as I could manage, and on to the top of the hill. You weren’t finsh until your foot stepped on to the monument, so just a small set of wooden steps, 6 or so steps, and it would all be over. Those steps felt like a vertical climb. But I was done.
For a first event from Trail Outlaws I couldn’t fault it. Really well organised and planned with a great atmosphere. Definitely one for the diary.
It will be an off-road route of approximately 6 miles, at a gentle pace. Ideal if you’d like to give off-road running a try. We’d advise you to wear trail shoes, or old road shoes – certainly not your brand new runners, as they’re highly likely to get wet/muddy. Afterwards it will be back to the Punch Bowl for refreshments.
Parking is limited in Edmundbyers, so please arrange to car-share wherever possible.
Please note there will be no 7pm session going out from the sports centre on Tuesday night.
Report submitted by Nicola Gloyne
|The Race||The Northumberland Coastal Marathon|
|Value for Money||5 (only £13 and you get a t-shirt and a medal!)|
|Club Support & Social||0|
|In Short||A real challenge and not for the faint hearted…|
|In Full I arrived at Alnmouth with my Stamford Striders friend (and marathon nutter!) Helen shortly before 8am. People were already starting to collect at the entrance to the Red Lion Pub which was the race HQ.
We parked up down next to the golf course and took some photos of the beautiful scenery surrounding us. We then headed up to the pub to collect our numbers and t-shirts. There was only a handful of people so we didn’t have to wait long before we could head off in search of some loos.
The start was on the beach next to the river Aln. There was a small tent to leave bags and a start line drawn in the sand. After some brief pre race instructions we lined up on the sand and set off at 9am prompt.
My friend and I had already decided this wasn’t the sort of race where time was going to be at the forefront of our minds and the plan was to take it steady and just enjoy the scenery.
Alnmouth – Boulmer
The first 2 and a bit miles are along the beach. Those of you who’ve ran the Coastal Run before will know this stretch of sand very well as it’s the last stretch before the finish line. The sand was quite firm and the tide was well out so there weren’t too many pools to contend with. We reached the concrete stairs, popped up them and headed right past some old caravans and through a farm. The track was quite narrow in places and our already steady pace was slowed to a walk at times. We headed out onto the road at Boulmer and continued along the track towards Craster.
Boulmer – Craster
The first part of the track was quite wide and gravelly but as we continued through a gateway and over a little wooden bridge the track became narrower and more undulating. We went down quite a steep hill, across another bridge and then headed sharp right to follow the track that went around the edge of the cliffs. We were still feeling quite comfortable at this point, but we were probably only about 6 miles in. We headed on towards Craster along the cliff tops, another part of this route which overlaps that of the Coastal Run, and I ran down a section of hill that is done in reverse on the Coastal Run I thought to myself, that’s gonna hurt on the way back! When we got to Craster we came through another wooden gate which brought us out into the pub beer garden, we ran through the car park and out into the village, then headed down towards the harbour.
Craster – Newton Links
Once back out on the cliff tops, with the beautiful Dunstanburgh Castle on the horizon I commented to Helen that I thought this could possibly become one of my most favourite runs. The scenery was just amazing, with the sea off to the right, rolling countryside to the left and the castle ahead of us. Of course at this point we were only about 8.5 miles into a very long run. The grassy paths roll along up and down as you head towards the castle, we chatted and said hello to the walkers we were passing along the way. We passed the Castle and headed towards the golf course. A little further on, we passed the track that you use to come off Embleton Beach on the Coastal Run, we had been following two Elvet runners who didn’t go down onto the beach but continued straight ahead on the track that skirts the edge of the golf course. We soon realised this had been a mistake as the undergrowth closed in around us. Brambles scratched at our legs and long grasses caught and pulled at our ankles. We met a couple walking the other way with their children. It was quite a squeeze to get past them and the lady informed us everyone else was running on the sand. With that we started to look for a route of escape. After a couple of hundred yards we found a narrow path which took us to the top of a steep sand dune, we skidded down on our bottoms and back out onto the nice open beach. It was at this point my heart sank for the first time. I could see ahead of us a field with a long incline where the faster runners were. That was going to be hard work!!
As we headed off the beach, the sand was very soft and seemed to literally sap the energy from my legs. We then turned right through a gateway and started the ascent up the long hill I’d seen from the beach. The faster runners were starting to pass us in the opposite direction now and we all encouraged each other along the way. By the time we reached the top my legs were like jelly, I couldn’t believe we weren’t even half way!! We ran down towards the sea again and followed the winding paths behind the sand dunes. We met an older couple out walking who asked where we were running to and who seemed very impressed when we told them the route and the distance we were doing. At approximately 12 miles we came across the last drinks station of the first half and past here we followed more winding paths eager to reach Long Nanny Bridge and the half way point.
Long Nanny Bridge – Alnmouth
We were directed off up to the right where we climbed over a stile and headed down onto Newton Links Beach. Finally, we were heading for home!! We ran on the sand again for about a mile. On leaving the beach, we passed the previous drinks station and ran back onto the winding paths at the back of the dunes. We passed the older couple we’d seen on the way in who cheered us on.
We slowly made our way back up to the top of the field that had given us jelly legs and it was nice to be coming back down the hill this time. We saw a man in an Edinburgh Marathon t-shirt and Helen joked with him that he should be running too!
Back on Embleton Beach now and the sand was really starting to take it’s toll on my legs which were feeling very heavy now. We were at about 16 miles now and I couldn’t wait to get back onto the tracks that would take us past Dunstanburgh Castle! Counting down, I kept thinking ‘just 10 to go…….’
Once we were past the castle, it felt more like we were heading for home. Coming back along the cliff tops through the fields towards Craster some cows had congregated around one of the gateways. Like a lot of my Bounder friends, Helen isn’t too fond of cattle so she wasn’t exactly overjoyed to see one cow in particular, occupying a space very close to gate we were about to go through. I went through the gate first and tapped the cow on it’s bum. Startled it jumped forwards out of the way making Helen scream in horror, much to the amusement of some walkers near by. Still, with the cow moved on we went through the gate way and headed back to Craster.
As we climbed the hill in the village back towards the pub, it was nice to see the older couple we’d seen earlier on standing at the top cheering us on again. We thanked them and headed back into the pub car park. The beer garden was quite busy now and I’d have given anything to have stopped there for a nice cold pint of Guinness!!
We made our way through the gate, back onto the cliff top trail and headed for Boulmer. I was struggling. My legs were heavy, my back was hurting, I was hot and tired and I’d had about enough. The slopping grassy hill I’d ran down on the way out which is part of the Coastal Run was almost upon us, I reached the bottom and slowed to a walk. I just didn’t have enough energy to keep running up it. Once I reached the top, I started a slow jog. Because I’d stopped I’d realised the extent of my tiredness. My neck, shoulders, back, hips, knees, ankles and feet were all aching and there was still about 6 miles to go!!
Helen was still doing okay and as we were getting closer to Boulmer I told her to continue without me as I didn’t want to hold her up. We’d reached the wide gravel path that takes you back into the village and at this point I started to walk a bit and run a bit. As I hobbled through Boulmer itself, I kind chap outside of his house offered to get me a bottle of water. I declined but thanked him for his kindness. I felt sick, I didn’t think I’d manage to keep anything down. I came off the road back onto the track that would take me through the farm and past the caravan site. About 3 miles left to go! I took a wrong turn, gutted I retraced my steps and picked up the track that would take me back onto Alnmouth beach. A couple sitting outside their caravan offered me a drink as I passed. Again I thanked them and declined. I made my way back onto the beach for the longest 2.2 miles ever. It seemed like a lifetime ago that we’d headed out in the opposite direction full of energy!
The tide was coming in and after about a mile the only option was to pick my way through the rocks. I’d kept up a slow jog on the sand until this point so I was actually pleased to have a little rest as I attempted not to slip and fall on my backside.
Rocks negotiated I took up my slow jog again and ploughed on back towards the river and the finish line. Helen was waiting for me a few hundred yards from the finish to give me the encouragement I needed for that final push. As I came around the next bend I could see the finish and I’ve never been so relieved in my life.
I staggered through and propped myself up on the wall at the edge of the beach. I was presented with my medal, which I’d not been expecting so that was a nice surprise. Now I’d stopped, I realised even my head was hurting as well!
So my final thoughts on this race. Yes it was the toughest run I’ve done to date, yes I was knackered and yes I felt broken by the time I’d finished. But YES I would definitely do it again. The route was amazing and the run was well organised with sufficient water stops all of which had jellies and friendly run marshalls. The encouragement given by the large number of passers by just out for a Sunday stroll was excellent too.
The entry for the run was a mere £13 and you got a technical t-shirt and a medal. Personally I think it’s nice to support smaller races like this. Next year, I will prepare better though. I’ll do more weights in the gym, more Wednesday night sessions and more longer runs. Hopefully, a few Bounders might join me for the experience.
Full results can be found here
|The Race||Durham Summer XC Relays|
|Please score the following categories out of 5|
|PB Potential||5 – 2 laps, fast, flat & on grass with a small hill|
|Atmosphere||5 – Rain but everyone still had fun|
|Organisation||4 – Good however not much shelter from the rain|
|Scenery||5 – Durham riverside with the cathedral in the background.|
|Value for Money||5 – Seniors/Vets £12 per team, Juniors £6 per team.|
|Beginner Friendliness||5 – Plenty new members took part for the first time and enjoyed the experience.|
|Club Support & Social||5 – The Bounders only do loud no matter where you are on the course there was someone cheering you on.|
|Tell us more…|
|In Short||Short, sharp, slippy and a good laugh.|
Some excellent performances from the Juniors and those that ran their 1st XC event in the Senior and Vet races. Some ran twice, got disqualified, ran late, ran in the wrong race or pranced down the hill like Bambi, but hey its all part of being a Bounder and the atmosphere and encouragement is second to none. Look forward to the next team event which is the Sunderland XC open on Sat 13th Sept so keep the date free details to follow. Thanks again
Gibside pastyrun – Friday 22nd August
For those that may be new to the Bounders’ pastyrun, the pasty train will depart from Shotley Bridge Station (Derwent Walk) at 6:30pm , for a steady 6ish mile run down to Gibside, where we have a pasty and a pint (or two).There may also the option to start from Belle Vue Leisure Centre at 6pm. As usual, pasty orders to Sara, or leave a comment on this post.
Meeting at the Punchbowl in Edmundbyers, at 7pm, come and join us for a lovely off-road social run, of appoximately 6 miles. Followed by rehydration in the pub!
We would advise that you wear trail shoes, or old road shoes, as there will most likely be a bit of mud.
Please note, there will be no 7pm session going out from the sports centre.
Report submitted by Paul Rowe
Haven Point Triathlon
4 – Lovely, brand new swimming pool, steady bike route 3 laps on closed roads with only a small climb, then a run back on part of bike route before looping back along sea front finishing with a short 100m final stretch on the sand so good chance for a PB
3 – This was the inaugural Tri at Haven Point (previously it was ran at Hebburn) organised by Tyne & Wear Fire & Rescue Service. Lots of very helpful marshalls and people helping out. Only teething problems / delays I noticed were registering people in at the start meaning some of the early starters for the swim were caught up in a long queue before being fast tracked to the front to make the planned 7:00 am start time. Bike security at the start could have been better (no marshalls there when I and others were racking some of the first bikes). However, soon got sorted and the rest of the arrangements, marshalls, closed roads / signs / barriers were all were very good
Value for Money
5 – Your £40 entry fee got you a nice goodie bag, including the obligatory T shirt, drink bottle with sports sachets, discount voucher, closed roads for the event and also a fabulous buffet at the end.
5 – Sprint Triathalons can be a great way to get into this 3 event race, with this one just a short 400m in a pool, followed by 20k on the bike on closed (ie safe!) roads and finish off with a 5k run. Very supportive group of participants and organisers and willingness to offer help and assistance with setting up the transition area between the disciplines
Club Support & Social
Great, friendly sprint Tri, safe pool short 400m swim, and fairly easy bike / run with plenty of spectators all around. Final run section on sea front paths before a final 100m on the sand to the finish line.
In Full: This was to be my 2nd Sprint Triathlon, and my third Tri in total (having also managed the Standard distance in last months rescheduled Newcastle Tri). I only found out about this particular one during a conversation at Ryton Tri swimming training just a few days earlier. A last minute entry went in and I was given a number and 8:05 start time.
The event registration was due to open at 5:30am on Sunday, adjacent roads closed at 6:30 and a competitors briefing 6:45 for a 7:00 start. An early alarm clock at 4:30 was set for the 45-60 minute journey to South Shields. The forecast all week included warnings for bad weather due to the tail end of hurricane Bertha heading North. I’m sure if I’d opened the curtains at that hour to see the worst of what could have been, I may have forfeited and crawled back into bed. However, skies were light, broken and pleasantly warm. Ultimately, it managed to stay OK for the entire race, with only the first rain falling during the awards presentation several hours later.
I arrived and already quite a few competitors were assembling in the many car parks on the sea front (these were ran by the council so a small charge was needed for parking). The transition area/finish line etc. were all taking shape and registration open to collect race numbers.
I joined the queue and was sorted with my number and timing chip (worn on left ankle) fairly quickly. However, a long queue was starting to develop behind me and the people arriving later must have quite a long wait. Indeed, even at time of the briefing at 6:45, there was already calls going out for the early start competitors to make their way to the front so they didn’t miss the swim start time. I went to the transition area to rack my bike, lay out my towel, running equipment, helmet, drinks/nutrition etc. and checked out the ‘Bike Out/Bike In/Run Out’ routes ready for the race.
The start times of the swim are arranged with the slower swimmers generally starting first, slowing working through to the faster times towards the late starters. There was a mix of people doing front crawl, breaststroke or even the occasional backstroke with the early starters. This particular event had the pool split into 8 lanes, with everyone doing 16 lengths. In lane 1, each swimmer would swim up then down before ducking under the rope and then the next two lengths in lane 2, and so on through to the end of Lane 8. Once complete, climb out and make your way out the pool area and to transition. Saves having to count to 16 which can be easily missed when swimming!
The time in transition depends on how organized you are and how much faffing around you want to do. I made it out from the swim before the person next to me, but she made it out of transition well before me! Less faffing next event! Because of the timing chip, which records exactly when you cross the entry point and exactly when you cross the exit point, you can even quantify the faffing ready for next time.
There are various rules to follow in Triathlon (too many to list), but one key one in Transition 1 is helmet on & clipped before you touch the bike. Something perhaps easy to consider in calm times, but with the red mist of competition, something easy to forget. Get it wrong and time penalty! Sorting out race number, socks (remember the talc!), shoes, glasses, gloves if you like them – all takes time!
The bike route was very well signposted and marshalled, out from Haven Point, along the sea front past Marine Park towards Gypsy’s Green stadium and then along to virtually the point the GNR ends. Several ‘sleeping policeman’ in the first few hundred yards needed to be navigated but this wasn’t a problem. A slight incline, together with a strongish headwind, made the first part of the bike tough. However, before you knew it, you were at the turnaround point and heading back down the same road, this time with the wind on your back.
3 bike laps made up the 20k route before heading back for Transition stage 2. Stage 2, rack the bike before taking the helmet off (or another time penalty!). Sort out anything more before heading out on the final event, the 5k run.
This run retraced the first part of the bike route (uphill, into wind!) before a sharp left turn took you right to the side of the beach for the return leg towards the rear of the Dunes amusement park and short journey towards the finish line. I wasn’t taking too much notice on distance so wasn’t expecting such a long last loop along the promenade before the final leg towards the finish line. The last 100 m had you running along the sandy beach – first time for me running on sand! Harder than I expected and was glad it wasn’t further!.
At the finish line, lots of people were there waving and cheering everyone on. A bottle of water handed out to everyone was most welcome.
As the race was chip timed, a quick visit to the timing van, enter my race number and I was presented with a lovely print out of my entire race details – swim time, T1 time, run time, T2 time and then finally run time!
I managed to knock of several minutes of my Weardale Tri time (even taking into account the slightly shorter bike route). Definitely now believe I have the Tri bug!
The remaining people continued to depart out on the bike/run routes so plenty of opportunity to support your fellow participants. However, before the weather turned for the worse, everyone was home and finished.
A buffet was provided as part of the event which was most welcome afterwards! Bar facilities were also there. Awards were presented to top 3 people in all the race categories by the Mayor/Mayoress of South Tyneside showing the great support this even has in the community. A raffle, in aid of the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation, offered 3 bikes as well as a host of other prizes which seemed very well supported.
Just at the close, the heavens opened but by this time everyone had had a great event. I, for one, am looking forward to doing this again next year. Who else is with me?