Some 34 Harriers formed part of the 4,700 who took part in the 39th
running of the Blaydon Race on Sunday 9th June 2019.
Unlike last year’s race - brought forward to a rather sticky Saturday afternoon because of Ed Sheeran’s later appearance at St. James’ Park - there were no competing events to factor in this year, and the race started at the very civilised time of 7.15 pm when the day had mostly cooled off, although runners did report bright sun on the Scotswood Road and probably reduced levels of support.
A delayed entry in February had led to rumours of the race not taking place at all; not so, but a slightly different finish this year – outside Morrisons in Blaydon – meant the race was a touch shorter than in previous years (some 5.4 miles in total), with no children’s race and restricted space at the Blaydon end. Runners who had lined up back on Grey Street (now the assembly area instead of the old Bigg Market) also complained of having to stand stock still, having crossed the chip mats, for up to two minutes at the bottom of Collingwood Street as the field tried to negotiate the left-right turn around the new paved area.
At the sharp end meanwhile, a leading group of some fifteen men quickly established itself with Carl Avery,
second last year, and a returning Nick Swinburn (sporting his NEFRA vest) prominent,
along with Graham Rush of Leeds City, Dom Shaw of New Marske and Charlie Hulse of Liverpool.
With the group slowly whittling itself down as the pace cranked up, in the end it was a straight fight between Avery and Rush, with the Leeds man winning out in the end by a margin of no more than twenty metres.
Rush was credited with 25 minutes 33 seconds and Carl had once again to settle for second in 25m 37s,
with Hulse in third (25m 45s).
Leading Morpeth finishers thereafter were Nick Swinburn, 5th in 26m 17s, Sam Hancox, 11th in 27m 2s,
Tom Straughan, 14th in 27m 37s, John Butters, 19th and 3rd Over 40 male in 28m 8s
and Adam Pratt, 24th in 28m 15s.
Other notable achievements were Dan Melling, 30th overall in his first Blaydon, who achieved the distinction of winning the Geordie Ridley trophy as 1st Under 19 with a time of 28m 31s, and Lee Bennett, having a fine year so far, 44th but 1st Over 50 in 29m 20s.
Despite Nick not counting for the team, Morpeth look to have won
both the Senior Men’s and the Veteran Men’s titles.
Other Morpeth times included: Mark Snowball, 36th in 28m 57s; Richard Johnson, 38th in 29m 3s;
Fergus Bates, 3rd 0/50 in 30m 58s and 89th; Matthew Boyle, 96th in 31m 11s; Paul Banks 154th in 32m 20s;
Shaun Land, 163rd in 32m 27s; Jamie Johnson, 179th in 32m 49s; Rob Hancox, 192nd and 8th 0/50 in 33m; Mike Winter, 282nd in 34m 11s; Neil Gunstone, up from his London base to finish in 309th in 34m 40s;
Eric Adams 341st in 35m 2s; Gary Hall, 358th in 35m 16s; Jim Alder, 420nd in 35m 54s;
Paul Bellingham, 447th in 36m 8s and Norman Clark, 1073rd and 4th 0/65 in 40m 44s.
Olympian and Sunderland Stroller Alyson Dixon, now an Over 40 veteran, was a convincing winner of the women’s race in a time of 28m 24s with Claire Duck of Leeds City 2nd in 28m 54s and Wallsend’s Danielle Hodgkinson,
last year’s winner, in 3rd.
There was a good run by Morpeth’s Robyn Bennett, however, who was 6th overall and 4th Senior in 31m 16s
and she was just ahead of Jane Hodgson, 8th and 4th veteran woman in 31m 32s.
Thereafter Rachelle Falloon was 19th and 12th Senior (33m 8s) and Gemma Floyd 20th and 3rd 0/40 in 33m 16s and Helen King 32nd and 7th 0/40 in 34m 17s.
Jane Kirby was 388th in 45m 16s.
The club was unfortunate in that the four to count for the team prize
cannot include veteran women, so narrowly missed out.