Over one hundred Poly runners pulled on their Poly vests on 9th June for the historic Blaydon Race.  Due to a re-siting of the start (to Grey Street) I found myself in a sea of other athletes with no sign of my 99 plus team mates.  No matter.  While we were being ‘kettled’ on Grey Street I found myself next to a tall Texan who had printed off the entire Blaydon Races song.  I helped him to translate ‘fower and twenty’ and ‘cuddy’ as well as explaining where the various places from the song were in the race route . So, maybe I did my bit for translatlantic relations.  Moving round the corner-but no less squashed- to Collingwood Street, I talked to some Northern Frontrunners, who had decided to meet up in advance of the race beside Grey’s monument.  This might have seemed like a good idea at the time.  However they found themselves in the midst of an event to welcome refugees which had been gatecrashed by the EDL.  Feeling a tad conspicuous the Northern Frontrunners had quietly moved away…

I’d like to give a big shout out to the Emergency services.  Not only did they have the potential for trouble at Grey’s Monument to oversee but as well as the Blaydon Race there was also the Ed Sheeran concert in the evening.  Despite this it was slightly disconcerting to see armed police at the end of the race.  But I guess that since Boston Marathon, these are the times we live in.  As for the paramedics, they had to deal with at least two serious incidents of people collapsing.  In view of the high temperatures during the race this wasn’t surprising, but the sight of two pararamedic bicycles thrown on the road just metres away from the runners told its own story.

So, to the race itself.  It was hot, hot hot!  And it never seems to matter what time you run along Scotswood Road-afternoon as it was this year, or evening as it is some years-the sun is always in your face.  It felt as though someone had moved the water station, and the paper cups given out did feel rather miniscule.  Perhaps they could reroute the race INTO the Tyne next year rather than across it! The water flowing under Scotswood Bridge definitely looked appealing.

So, to the Blaydon Race itself.  The men’s event was won by John Beattie (Newham and Essex Beagles)  in a time of  26.39.  Carl Avery from Morpeth was next (26.42)  followed by Chris Parr of Gateshead (26.46).  In the women’s race, local girl Danielle Hodgson of Wallsend (30.47) saw off Elle Baker of Stockport (31.33).  In 3rd place was Jane Hodgson of Morpeth (32.09).

The Poly women did particularly well.  As well as having six women in the top thirty places in the race, they also claimed the women’s team prize.  Stephanie Maclean Dann (34.39) was first woman in for the Poly and 11th overall. Jackie Penn (34.47) was  second woman in for the Poly, and 13th overall.  The following women were 1st, 2nd and 3rd for the Poly in their particular age groups-

Seniors-Jackie Penn, Rachel McIntyre, Samantha Penn

35-44-Steph MacLean Dann. Claire McManus, Suzanne Thew

44-54-Clair Rudd, Lucy Craig, Clare O’Neil

55+-Heather Lambert, Alison Cummings, Noreen Rees

The following men were 1st, 2nd and 3rd for the Poly in their particular age groups-

Seniors-Graeme Cook (30.52, in 28th place overall) Paul West (32.03) Bradley Clough (32.31)

40-49-Paul Gilder, Jason Stirland (33.20, tied at 24th and 25th place overall) Paul Davies

50-59-Greg Penn (33.04, 3rd overall-a great day out for all the Penn family!) Neil Dick, Vaughan Hemy

60+ John Brown (39.11, 11th overall) Ian Holland, Harry Fern.

No doubt the Poly will be out in force once again next year at the Blaydon, and perhaps we should decide in advance where we’ll meet for a team photo.

Noreen Rees