Marathon of the North

[Sun 6th May] 


Four members from Blyth Running Club ran the first “Marathon of the North” Three quarters of the team recorded a personal best, not a bad day at the office!!!

I had a very interesting few days before the marathon, I received a telephone call from BBC Radio Newcastle on the Thursday evening before hand, as I help organise the North East Marathon Club races and I was doing this marathon, could I answer some questions?.  After a while I was asked if I could go on the morning breakfast show with “Alfie and Charlie” which I did.  This involved getting up on Friday at 5:45 AM and off to the studio pronto.  After listening to Steve Cram answer what Id hoped would be my (no rehearsing here mind you) questions, I was on air.  Luckily I believe only Andrea Scott actually heard me!!. The next day I was at work early and took great delight in impressing my new boss of my new found fame.


The morning of the race started off badly, I slept through my alarm! I was giving Julie and Susanne a lift too.  Anyone who knows me, realises that if I’m late, I have probably been rushed to hospital or worse.  However all was not lost as we got to Sunderland in plenty of time.  We met up with Ricky Davidson and as Julie went to the loo for the 45th time the three of us conducted some serious (well for us) warm up drills, much to everyone else’s amusement.


The day started off quite cool, gloves were on, but as the sun was shining so were the shades, it was quite breezy along the coast later, but the temperatures very quickly rose making it quite uncomfortable running at times in the sudden heat.  The course itself looks on the map like it really twists and turns, however in practice it didn’t really seem apparent.  It was really what Id describe as hilly and lumpy, not like say Kielder but still as they say for Gibside “it aint flat”.  The route takes you through some parks, along the coast, over the river and around the stadium.  I know some areas of Sunderland well and realised that we would more or less have the last four miles uphill.  Being lumpy Id guessed it may suit Susanne and I was right.


I know Susanne, Julie and I didn’t really have a specific race plan in mind.  Ricky was struggling with injuries and wasn’t too happy with his final preparations.  As we all set off, Susanne and I had by this stage decided to start together and as we normally do “chat a lot en route”.  At certain points along the course you can see your fellow runners as we would go one way and they would be on a different path, we could tell that both Julie and Ricky were having a good race.


Susanne and I settled into a very even pace quickly.  We were joined by a young lady at about four miles who said she wanted a 3:20 marathon time, quickly she left us oldies!, by this stage we were not thinking of times or positions but we felt that it was a fairly brisk pace that we were doing and thought it ok to continue.  We later thought that we were getting too fast and before half way made the decision to slow down realising that there was still a long way to go and the course was lumpy.  I was joking to Susanne at mile 12 when we saw a builders van parked at the side of the road it read HUNTERS, was this fate, was it destiny I asked???

At the half way point a timekeeper came into the road and noted Susanne’s race number, we hoped this was routine as she was just inside the top 10 ladies at this stage as we had heard this from the crowd.


We pushed on and as the miles and our chat continued, I was aware that the crowd were getting more excited, saying 6th lady etc as we moved through the field.  At about 18 miles we heard 4th lady and that was it, we decided to stop talking!  We were not settling for 4th but going for a top 3 place.


On a few more miles and the leading ladies were coming back towards us.  Susanne said she could see the top 3 including the leading lady who was from Elvet Striders and a top vet runner that races her at XC .But we also knew that the last miles were uphill and that particular lady had blown up at an earlier marathon we did in Edinburgh a few weeks before.


From here it was no more chatting just head down and work.  Susanne pushed on and we quickened the pace surging into sub 7:30 s uphill and also into a head wind.  Commitment to the newly worked plan was total, it was to out pace and demoralise them as we passed at speed!  It worked, at mile 23 she was leading lady!!! The crowd was very excited and Susanne kept saying how fast? How far to go? I was saying “just run, we must press on and keep going”.


More pace was needed so again we pushed on again; by now it was no talking, no chat, just hard work.  The last mile was at 7:20 mins.  We came into the home straight; the marshals were on their radios saying the leading lady is coming!!!. On the final 200 m we kicked again, Susanne thought I knew that someone was behind but I could see the tape for her.  She smashed though the tape and we started to realise what she had done.


The second lady who was 25 years old was about 30 s chip time behind, all the next 5 ladies after her were under 30 years old. 


Upon crossing the line, Susanne was immediately interviewed by Real Radios correspondent; I can remember only the words “I am 46 years old”. 


During the day after I told her that we were never going to rely on her sprint finish! The plan as it developed on the day and as the miles went by was to win the race at mile 23, by completely out running the field.  The hills helped; as did the fact that I was confident that out of the runners male or female around us, we seemed to be maintaining our speed the best.


At the presentation she ran up the steps onto the stage, she bounded on to the amazement of Charlie Spedding and the Real Radio presenters.


Excellent races were had by Julie and Ricky, both achieving with Susanne PBs, on what I would never have thought of as a PB course.  An excellent day at the office by all!


Well Mrs Hunter, you can actually tell your grandchildren about the day you won a big city marathon!


Thanks to David Daniels of Tyne Bridge Harriers who moved around the course taking photos and giving encouragement.


After that it’s a fell race a week later then Druridge Bay Marathon one week after that.


Well done to our three PBrs, nice one everyone!