I have been accused more than once of having a cavalier attitude to racing, especially in recent years as I parade around taking photos and listening to my ipod. I’m not sure why having two wires attached to your ears should slow you down but some of luddites out there are convinced it would be better for me to hear the rasping sound of Oxygen stripping my lungs than the mellow tones of Gilbert O' Sullivan (too young?...never mind).
Yesterday, I was out with the gang doing 35 miles on two wheels. On a lovely summers’ day, I thought I’d go for a cheap laugh and after I took a long swig from my water bottle I chucked it across the road (as per Le Tour), only for one of the lads to stop and pick it up. I did it later on again after explaining what effect I was trying for, and again it was retrieved for me.
Today 900 of us lined up for the Northumberland Coastal Run. I aimed for a sub 1:28, but feeling a perky headwind I downgraded to 1:29. I was caught out at the start, busy at the back ‘chatting on’ as they say. I decided early on running across the wet sand and thin rivulets that I was going for the bunny hop approach. It’s a mystery to me why so many runners don’t take more time to draft or tuck in behind other runners in a head-or-side wind. It’s even more bonkers that when in a group of 3, that the other 2 run at the side rather than work together into the wind, but I suppose everyone has a choice.
I was soon passing then resting up for half a minute then passing, then resting...you’ve got the idea and moved across the polished round cobbled track that surrounds the remains of the picturesque Dunstanburgh Castle at 5 miles in 33 minutes. I grabbed a bottle of water at the first bottle stop and kept it with me, coiffing sips in a measured way as the sun broke through the grey sky.
Gradually, runners became harder to pass, gaps more difficult to bridge, the tarmac softer like soup and the long grass along the edges of the tracks grasped at your ankles like something out of a B movie. At Craster, around halfway there wasn’t a kipper in sight and I’d finished my water. As the onlookers cheered, I nodded to a couple, shook my empty water bottle. They caught my drift and nodded so, at last, I threw it at a low angle skidding across the asphalt. What am I like?
A leggy North Shields (NSP) runner came past me at 10 miles and I couldn’t hang in, but was soon on the back of another NSP athlete so that was fair, I thought. At 11 miles we hit the beach for the last 2 miles and the wind was up. With no-one to shelter behind, I had to plod across the firm sand not gaining anything on NSP man ahead. If I had been a rich man at the start, the course had picked me up, turned me upside down and shaken me until all my change had dropped onto the ground. Penniless. Meanwhile, NSP kept looking behind and with 200m to go I took a leaf out of his book and peered over my shoulder only to see 2 lads hot on my heels, and one of them a clubmate. Zut Alors. I dug in and crossed the line in around 1:30 (30th-ish) and tres fatigue.
A pint in the Red Lion and a slice of team prize soon had me banged to rights and it was back to the house to see le Tour des Brittaniques. Tres bon. Photos soon on Flickr. Results at Alnwick Harriers Site soon. (Winner's Ian Harding and Jane Hodgson pictured above)-Thanks to Lorna M for the photos and taxi.