Report from Mick Jeffrey:
This race has been on my bucket list for a while. I entered in 2019 but couldn’t run through injury.I managed to get a last minute place through the Blood Cancer UK charity. Training had been going pretty well with at least two long runs under my belt for the previous two weekends. The weather was especially kind; cool, overcast and with a very gentle breeze.
Sadly they had changed the route from a downhill course finishing on the coast at South Shields to an out and back finishing in Newcastle centre. If a course on a closed motorway going through underpasses and over flyovers is your thing then this course is for you. Give me Burn Valley or Great Langdale any day. Having said that it was superbly organised with 57,000 thousand runners registered and claims to be the largest half marathon in the world.
It was founded 41 years ago by Brendan Foster and this was the 40th running. Brendan Foster was partly instrumental in me starting running. I was sick of seeing him come third in European 10,000m championships and thought I could surely do better! I found myself getting changed for the 1979 Ferriby 10 mile race right next to the aforementioned Brendan, he near the end of his running career and me at the start. I was very pleased with a sub 58 minute time but he posted 48 which rather put things in perspective.
However scalps I have taken;
2 David Black. He of the long hair and Zapata moustache parodied in the 911 adverts and former 10,000 m world record holder. That was in the 1979 New York marathon and ok, so he dropped out but I didn’t
3 Walter Wilkinson, first Yorkshireman to break 4 minutes for the mile and Olympian. I beat him fairly and squarely in the 1993 Harrogate Winter league 5k, me with 16.40 ish! He was 9 years older so perhaps passed his best
4 Ian Fisher the greatest Yorkshire runner of the last 30 years. That was in a club 400m race and they can’t take that away from me! But I digress
I was expecting a time of around 2 hours and was very pleased with my 1.50.42. I had tried hard throughout and although the last two miles seemed interminable I managed a sort of elongated ‘sprint’ for the last 400 metres. I was spent though. I could barely walk back through the park to the Metro to catch the train back to Gateshead where I had left my car. There is an underpass in the park with a steep path down and my thighs cramped so badly that I had to ‘mince’ down the path.
When I was a student in Manchester there was a charity walk through the night from Preston to Manchester. My year in the school of Architecture entered a team of 10 with a back up vehicle. One by one all my fellow students dropped out and the back up car with spare kit decide to go home. I had done no training and wore a white mac with a trilby whilst most of the rest of the walkers were in boots, woolly hats and anoraks. At around 32 miles my shoes disintegrated and with no access to my spare shoes (in the back up vehicle) I was forced to get on the nearest pick up bus. I sat down and waited until they had enough stragglers to make the journey back to Manchester worthwhile. We arrived back around 2 hours later when I discovered I could not walk forward! I had to walk backwards through the busy Bus station mid Saturday morning dressed in my inappropriate clothing! Very embarrassing but very amusing for all those shoppers
The race was won by Marc Scott in 1.01.22
First Lady was Helen Obiri in 1.07.42
There were 6 Otley ac finishers
Mick Jeffrey 5764th in 1.50.42, 27th out of 381 in the MV65-69 age group
Andy Webster 9760th in 1.59.34
Andy McDowell 10427th in 2.01.03
Amelia Wong 15503rd in 2.13.21
Joanne Mather 19216th in 2.22.50
Natasha Whitaker 24773 in 2.41.51