Sunday was a lovely sunny morning so I slapped on the factor 30 (ah, the curse of the ginger – the slightest hint of sun and I turn a startling shade of lobster) and headed off to North Shields for the start of the North Tyneside 10k where I met up with the other twenty five Saltwell Harriers who were running this race. It was great to see so many Hoops when you consider that only a couple of years ago there were only half a dozen runners from our club here.
After a bit of banter about projected times and the sunshine (I should have taken some of the Saltwell apparel with me – I’m sure I would have made a killing selling the caps!) we headed down to the start area where I lined up next to Phil Robertson, hoping to keep him in sight all the way round as he has been flying in training in recent weeks. But I had insider knowledge and a game plan. I knew the first half mile got a bit congested so as soon as the klaxon went, so did I. I flew off and within minutes found my rhythm, comfortable in my race pace along the Fish Quay. All that training around Low Fell with the club certainly came in handy as I stormed up the hill past the Priory and onto the flatter, fast bit of the course heading along to the lighthouse at Whitley Bay.
I surprised myself by getting to the water station at the halfway mark in around 22 minutes, grabbed a bottle (why do they take the whole cap off? You can’t run with an open bottle!), chucked half over my head and the rest at the bin and carried on at the same pace as I was still feeling good. A couple of miles on and I rounded Spanish City to see Ria Chasten in front of me. That spurred me on to try and catch her and within a few hundred metres I wheezed past her like an asthmatic Darth Vader – too tired to talk I gave a quick thumbs up as she called out her support. A little further up and I was able to squeeze past Jamie Ferguson, too – I was flying!
With only a few hundred metres to go I looked up and could see another Hoop ahead but was it Phil Young or Nicola Whitman? In my defence, I don’t wear my glasses when I run so it was an easy mistake to make; I couldn’t tell whether it was a 40 year old with a shaven head and rugby players build or a young. blonde female – all I could see was a Hooped vest and legs! I couldn’t quite catch either of them though. I thought I’d lost all my speed with my marathon training but still came in at a respectable time of 45.22.
Kevin Kendall was first Salwellian home, just ahead of Dale McCallum, in a great time of 38.40. But there were great times all across the board with PBs falling everywhere; Charlotte knocking seven minutes of her previous best and Phil Askew, ten. Naz was so excited at his time he picked up his goody bag but forgot to grab his luggage before he left!
A special mention should go to Helen Mullarkey who has had a rotten time with injuries this last year and it was great to see her back out there, coming in just over the hour mark and getting a deserved round of applause from the gathered Hoops.
Thanks also to Nicola Shaverin who was there at the end, handing out chocolate bunnies to the Saltwellians as they crossed the finish line – it made it all worthwhile!