After persistent overnight rain and howling winds,
there was some relief in finding that the showers had stopped
and conditions had eased at least for long enough to make
Sunday’s 30th Abbey Dash at least less of an ordeal than it had
threatened to be 12 hours previously. Indeed, though recent demolition
now meant it was no longer possible to read the temperature
from the giant display at the top of the old Yorkshire Post building,
for decades a prominent feature on the city’s skyline,
it certainly felt mild enough to be mid September.
Race organisers were taking no chances, however,
dismantling the finishing gantry outside the Town Hall.
The 30th running of the race was partly notable for the 2,000 or so
entrants who didn’t make the start line - presumably having looked out
the window and then rolled back over in bed - and organisers who appeared
unable to decide if it was the race’s 29th or 30th anniversary.
Pre-publicity had 29th, post-race t-shirt 30th.
Being old enough to have run in the very first event
(along with an old student house mate called Peter Bowker,
who has since gone on to a very successful TV screenwriting career),
I can confirm that the first race was actually 1986 and so it was the 30th.
The confusion has perhaps arisen as next year is the 30th anniversary
of it being run in support of AgeUK (or formerly Help the Aged) - so wear your pearls.
In the event, just short of 9,000 completed this year’s race that continues to attract
a high-class field from all over the country and was again the
final race in the runBritain Grand Prix series, incorporating the English Championships.
Race winner Dan Studley of Bristol and West was first home in a time of 29 minutes and 43 seconds,
although only five seconds separated the first three runners. For Morpeth, Nick Swinburn had a great race
to finish in fourth place overall in 29m 55s and Ian Hudspith continued his run of fine performances
on this course to finish in 14th (30m 15s). Ian’s clocking was a new National Over 45 record,
and caps another outstanding year in his running career.
Andy Wiles was third Morpeth counter, 54th in 31m 33s
and not far behind, young Sam Hancox ( 79th in 31m 57s)
defied the conditions to post yet another pb
in his first ever sub 32 minute run, with Ross Floyd 88th in 32m 5s.
In a women’s race won by Charlotte Arter of Cardiff AC in a time of 33m,
Emma Holt was Morpeth’s first female finisher and another with reason
to return home with a smile on her face, having run her fastest 10k in 36m 4s.
She was also 20th senior woman. Josie Cram followed her as 57th Senior in 39m 24s.
Other Morpeth Harriers battling with the swirling winds on the Kirkstall Road included:
John Butters, 211th and 7th Over 40 in 33m 51s; Jordan Scott, 299th in 35m 37s;
Matthew Boyle, 356th in 35m 56s; Mick Thomsen, 376th and 25th O/40 in 36m 8s;
Tony Lewis, 378th and 51st O/35 in 36m 9s; Rob Hancox, 7th O/50 and 487th in 37m 18s;
Paul Brown, 586th and 10th O/50 in 38m 18s; Mick Skeldon, 741st and 36th O/45 in 39m 30s
and Peter Scaife, 1009st and 7th O/55 in 41m 15s.
Meanwhile, only a quarter of a mile from the race at the normally very pleasant Kirkstall Bridge Inn,
these intrepid gentlemen were enjoying a quiet Sunday pint…
(Thanks to Chris Waugh for the photo link)