Gordon Smith Relays – Wednesday 10th May

A good turnout of 4 teams represented Ponteland Runners at the Gordon Smith Relays last night.  What felt like a lovely summers night quickly turned into the usual 3.2km (or 2 miles in real money as David Levison calls it) of trying to run so fast your eye balls feel like they are popping out – brilliant fun!

As the first runners set off relay debutant Miv felt his nerves getting to him, he need not of worried running a fantastic 12:58.  There were some brilliant performances on the night, from the girls, 3 of them coming within 5 seconds of each, lead by Fiona Nicholson in 14:28.  First team home came in 26th place out of the 155 teams that entered and was led out by James Leiper with a superb time of 11:12.

A great night had by all and definitely one to mark out for next year for all club runners.  Well done to all that entered.

Many Thanks for Wallsend for hosting the event, Ponteland results below. full results are available as a download from Wallsend’s website here.


Brass Monkey Half Marathon Sun 15th Jan 2017

So signing up for this race seemed like a good idea at the time, I had been told it was a fast and flat course and definitely had PB potential written all over it, that was until I realised that the middle of January isn’t exactly when you were at your peak for running a half marathon!  Despite this the fact that it was sold out within 30 minutes of going on sale did reassure us that it was a race worth doing!

Race day came around very quick, and true to its name it was certainly “brass” the morning of the race, however not quite the minus 2 degrees it was the previous year as we seemed to be reminded on several occasions.  Race HQ was at York racecourse, with baggage drop, toilet facilities and any last minute drinks and snacks available – all very organised.  We of course arrived with plenty of time in hand and strolled to the start line totally relaxed, and we of coursed definitely did not have a “lovers tiff” because we were so organised, as everyone knows that I don’t like to be organised at all and I am rather laid back when it comes to these things!!!

When we eventually wished each other luck and departed for our individual pens I was amazed at the variety of club vests on show, coming from all over the UK, it was also great to see the North East represented by so many clubs and familiar faces.

Finally we were underway and after the first km we hit the on and only bridge on the whole course, “I must remember that I have to tackle that on the way back” I thought to myself, as well as “Miv told me it was flat!!!”.  The course itself was through some nice little villages and then into the countryside before looping back to York Racecourse.  I little boring in places but bizarrely flat, perfectly flat in fact and Miv was right – it certainly did have PB potential written all over it.  Having got past the half way point pretty comfortably and then hitting 10 miles I realised I was starting to get tired, I had 21 minutes to do 5km, which would bring me under 1:27, something I hadn’t even dreamed of before the race let alone during it!  I of course totally forgot that I had to go back over the bridge, which hurt but it is supposed to right?  I came across the finish line and couldn’t believe my time, and once I had got my breath (and lungs) back, it started to sink in.  Looking at the race picture of me below I am starting to become alarmed at how many times I get pictured looking at my watch, do I just run in that position constantly?

The highlight of the race was to come – having ran 6 half marathons last year, the year after in which she ran her first ever half marathon, Helen crossed the line of her first half marathon of 2017 in 1:59, her first ever sub 2 hour half marathon, something which I know she has been determined to achieve for so long.

So was the Brass Monkey Half marathon worth setting your alarm for 5:50am on a random Sunday morning just to get in?  Of course it was – as Miv said “Fast and flat with PB potential!!

Berlin Marathon Race Report

Dearest Mother

You may recall that some time ago I volunteered for a top secret mission, I would like to blame my decision on the impetuousness of youth , but naturally one cannot in all conscience attribute that particular issue to your good son.  I can therefore only surmise that I agreed to the task whilst under the influence of some mind altering substance.

To date dearest mother I have kept  my own counsel on the matter, as secrecy was key to the success of the mission , but now the task has been completed I feel that the full horror of my ordeal can be divulged; not only for my own catharsis but to warn future generations.

Let me start by introducing the lead players in the drama that was about to unfold. Our commander Colonel ‘W’ is a grizzled old veteran of 13 previous missions. Despite the vast human suffering he has witnessed he has managed to maintain a remarkable level of bonhomie.  It was he who recruited me with promises of glory and riches beyond the dreams of Croesus, constantly plying me with unknown tablets to ‘replace the salt’.  I now believe these to be nothing of the sort, and he has clearly drugged me to bend me to his will.

Quartermaster ‘O’ was a strange character.  Without doubt he belongs in an elite corps, so one wonders why he remains with our rag-tag bunch; I suspect he could be a fifth columnist. There are too many things that were not quite adding up. Where does he go when the rest of the regiment meet on Saturdays in muddy fields for manoeuvres?  Why does he never have an explanation for his absence? We need answers.

Sergeant ‘B’ is a pleasant enough cove-clearly he has a fondness for the hop, an urge he claims to have got under control prior to the mission . I had my doubts however, although he managed to complete his mission in an efficient and impressive manner, perhaps it is his love of grog that powered him to such performances. Who can tell what motivates a man under such pressure.  I would point out however that his memory may be becoming slightly impaired by his habit.  I cannot recall how many times he had ‘forgotten his wallet’, but it did seem to become a well-used mantra.

The mission itself when it was revealed to me on the morning via an anonymous letter slipped under my hotel door was simplicity itself. Assemble after reveille in the Tiergarten, circumnavigate the boundaries of the city and meet 26.2 miles later at Brandenburg Gate.  How one was to be sorely disabused of the simplicity of the idea.  Nothing can prepare you for the horror that awaits you at the point 6 miles from your objective.  Still like a recurring nightmare, one realised that the only way out of this torment was forward. So armed only with Colonel  ‘W’s  ‘special’ tablets I stumbled inexorably to my fate.

Upon completion I found my merry band awaiting me with tales of derring do, and all seemed in remarkably high spirits. I attributed this either to the Colonel’s medication or a pure sense of relief that our ordeal was over. QM ‘O’ once again disappeared at this point, adding to my suspicions . He did return however clutching a scrap of paper bearing some strange markings and numbers. I think I caught a glimpse of 3:08:34 but sadly the numbers meant nothing to me.

One cannot begin to express the joy at surviving my first mission dearest mother.  Despite their obvious idiosyncrasies and foibles my fellow combatants  proved to be excellent if eccentric companions. Another mission is planned, of which I can say no more at this juncture.

NYC ( New York City ) Marathon 01-11-2015

I knew I had been extremely fortunate when I got into the New York City Marathon through the ballot back in March. To be honest I had entered just for the crack and never dreamt I would actually get in so my initial reaction was how I was going to break it to wife about the $$$ that are coming out of our account! Fast forward nearly 8 months and I had convinced her to join me with the incentive of a relaxing trip to Arizona with friends tagged on the end so after many days planning the trip and even more hours training for it we were off to New York the Friday before the Marathon.

I would love to say that I stayed on UK time because that’s what the pro’s do however with a three year old it wasn’t that easy so with a bit of jet lag we headed to the expo.  After a relatively quick look around the anxiety was put at ease by the fact I had finally got my hands on my participant t-shirt and the all important race number.  We intended to do a little bit of sightseeing the day before and stretch the legs with a gentle jog around Central Park as the opportunity was too good to miss but I didn’t intend to walk 11k and having set out on a 2.5km warm up I ended up doing the worst starva doodle in Central Park and clocked up 6km run- legs definitely stretched.  Not really a great example of resting the day before but there again I wasn’t convinced dinner at Hard Rock Cafe and ice cream in the park was pre marathon nutrition but I was doing it all the same!

I only really freaked out once and I don’t think I’m quite ready to see the funny side yet but it was the longest 20 mins of my life  when the wife lost my expo bag (race number and all) in Central Park and I was convinced my whole world had ended. Lucky for our marriage she found it at the bottom of a giant kids slide she had been on with the little man and the handle had ripped- the relief at that point was so overwhelming I realised just how much I wanted to do this.

RACE DAY! or should I say the middle of the night!  had been wide awake 2.45am half jet lag and half going through my strategy that will no doubt go out the window after about 100 meters and before I knew it my alarm goes off at 4:15am. My clothes are all laid  out in order as you’d expect so Im quickly ready to grab my taxi to the MetLife Stadium home of the NY Giants. When I arrive it suddenly dawns on me how big this race is – and I am taken aback when I see well over 200 buses in the car park waiting to take 1000s of runners to the start from New Jersey.

A 45 minute journey to Staten Island, followed by nearly half an hour in a security check where I’m strip searched (must have one of those faces) and a short walk to my blue start area means it is now 6am and after a coffee and cold porridge that I had brought with me from the hotel it starts to finally get light – only 4 hours to the start!

I position myself next to my coral entrance in between a tree and the only available patch of grass left.  Lay out my space blanket I’d brought from London marathon and lay my music, phone, energy drink, carb drink, gels and whatever else that feeds my OCD into perfect order – all set.  Apart from a few lovely conversations that I had with a few runners from all 4 corners of the globe including one guy from Brooklyn who was starting his 34th NYC marathon in a row and another fella from Serbia who would complete all 6 world major marathons after today’s race the next few hours went very slowly and it made me realise just how much I may depend on my phone and Internet access to pass the time!

I finally got into my coral and after queuing for the portaloos for the 5th time we started to move to the start line like sardines.  I removed the 4 items clothes that had been keeping me so lovely and warm and the klaxon goes – as always it’s a bit of an anticlimax when you realise it may be a minute or 2 until you actually cross the line.  After panicking I hadn’t got signal from my garmin (heaven forbid) I cross the start line and I’m off over the verazzino bridge where I know it’s a tough start, the first kilometre takes me a good 30 seconds more than I budgeted for as the crowds are so large but it gives me time to let it sink in – I’m running accross one of the largest bridges in the world with 52,000 other runners with one of the best views of NYC you will ever get and then I’m brought back down to earth by several guys peeing over the bridge that I have to say did somewhat tarnish it a little!

After the first bridge we were hit by the crowds in Brooklyn where I was a bit overwhelmed to see so many supporters at such an early stage. I was running along 1st avenue when I realised I was running 5k in a decent parkrun time and by 10km I realised I was running this race as though it’s a half – oh dear! But I can’t slow up as now the guys who are tracking me on the app are seeing my predicted time and I can’t let that slip now can I?

At the half way stage and I finally give into the fact that I’ve needed the toilet since mile 2!  That wasted time won’t play on my mind for the rest of the race in the slightest!  We go over yet another bridge, I’m sure it’s like the 25th one now or something but the novelty has well and truly worn off.  It’s here where I see some of the funniest banners I’ve ever seen “run like you stole something”, “smile if you aren’t wearing any underwear”, “if it helps pretend I’m your mom cheering”, “worst parade ever” I could go on but you get the picture!

The 30km mark comes up and here it comes – the dreaded wall!   My first marathon was London this year which I ran with Elliott so I imagine his calm voice in my ear saying “you’ve aimed for this, you’ve done the miles” yet the feeling of my quads about to burst seems to overpower that!

I cross the last bridge into my fifth and final borough of Manhattan and I see my wife and little boy on the sidelines at mile 22- I stopped for a kiss of both of them and then got pushed away to continue – to be fair it was just the incentive I need to complete the final 4 miles.

As I turn into Central Park for the last mile I try my best to “enjoy the moment” but just want it all to be over, I cross the finish line and instantly my thighs seize up, but I had done it – my 2nd marathon and my 2nd major out of the 6.

It suddenly dawns on me I have to walk 10 blocks north in Central Park to collect my bag followed by another 20 blocks back down west avenue to meet Helen & Kallen at the family reunion point.  I’ll not go into how painful that was but as I started reading the lads group chat commentary of my run it did bring a smile to my face and made the walk a little bit faster!