"for the happy, the sad, I don't want to be, another page in your diary"

Sunday 12 September 2021

Great North Hobble

On Saturday we head up to Newcastle by train via Chesterfield after the dogs have been dispatched to kennels. We travel in 2nd class because it now costs as much in 2nd class as it used to in 1st.

L's sister has pulled out of the run so it's just the two us again booking into Motel One and with the Pleased To Meet You booked for food and pre-race hydration. A tried and tested combination.

Beforehand we head up to check out the start and finish area which this year are in the same place on the Town Moor which is situated between the traditional start on the central motorway and this year’s finish on the Great North Road.

There will be no finish in South Shields this year to stop people packing onto buses and the metro with no social distancing which is such a bonus in many ways. It’s also sort of nice to have a different course for the 40th and for our last trip up here unless that is my knees are still intact for the 50th then I might give it another go. While L bills this as her half marathon retirement race.

There is a staggered start with everyone allocated specific timeslots to increase socially distancing meaning L sets off an hour and forty minutes after me. I start at 10:25 and L not until 12:05.

I start off aiming to do at least a Parkrun’s worth of distance before having to walk bits to give my knees a break (doing a Jeff I believe it’s called) as we head over the Tyne Bridge for what will be the first of two crossings this year. In fact I manage to make it to four miles where L's niece is working for a charity where I stop for a photo opportunity.

At half-way they turn us around a roundabout and send us back along the Bypass, past Gateshead again and so back to the Tyne Bridge. As the course is usually almost all up hill to South Shields it was a surprise to find the return to Newcastle wasn't all downhill, they even diverted us over a flyover to make sure this wasn't the case.

With our start times being so far apart L and I were only on the course together for a brief while but due to its out and back nature we managed to meet up for a high-five at around the 2 mile/11 mile point.

Then I carry on to do the last bit through Newcastle city centre where we run passed Grey's Monument which is just near where we are staying.

Sadly there was no beer stop at 10 miles this year which was probably the main reason my time of 2:08 wasn't good at all despite my pace starting off at sub-2 hour. I ran 1:45 in 2019. At least they still had Jakehead in the beer tent at the finish, so I rehydrate with one of those before I manage to get back onto the course to see L finish. Which is something that is never possible at South Shields.

With the hassle of getting back from the finish removed it’s just a short stagger back to our hotel.

In the evening we have a few post-race beers at nice little micro pub called the Wobbly Duck which was a new find then curry at an Indian restaurant called Dabbawal which was very good.

(Sunday 12th September)

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