Jan and I drove down to Newcastle which took about two and a half hours. We stayed at the Cairn Hotel which was quite good and only about a twenty minute walk to the start line. We had a great meal at the Italian restaurant Zizzi to fill up on pasta before heading back to sort out our kit for the race. It was quite a lively Saturday night in Newcastle, which was rubbish since we couldn’t have beer! We looked forward to a cold finishing beer the next day though.
In the morning everybody was up first thing for breakfast. I was pleased I took my Weetabix with me as they had nothing I was used to before race day. This was great with a sliced up banana. We headed down the road to the start line which was very busy with 57,000 runners all putting their bags into the drop off buses, to be driven to the finish line at South Shields. We got to the start line in plenty time and had a short warm up with the instructor getting everybody to do all sorts of warm up exercises, most of which were impossible to do when you’re shoulder to shoulder in a pen. It was a lovely sunny day but not too hot, the crowds were fantastic for the full 13.1 miles with lots of hand slapping going on as the runners passed. I remember this from my 2011 run but I had forgotten the route was mostly a gradual uphill climb to South Shields. We started off at good pace and wanted to keep it going as long as I could as I was hoping to get a PB. As there was little flat before another gradual hill, it started to take it’s toll on my legs after my previous week’s 22 mile training run for the York Marathon in October. However with a lot of motivation from Jan who was as fresh as ever, we ran on keeping positive about a PB time for myself, not planning on matching Jan’s Edinburgh half time. Running the 2011 race I noticed the crowd a lot more, but this time the race was a bit more of a blur as I pushed on as hard as I could. It was great to see the sea at mile 11 or so, and there was a great downhill short stretch. Jan and I both went into downhill fell racing mode and outstretched our arms, leaning forward for a fast run down the hill, much to the crowd’s amusement. There was then a long flat stretch along the coast to the finish line where the crown were once more fantastic for cheering everybody on. Jan and I then held our hands in the air together for a 1:41:44 finishing time. We picked up our goody bag with medal, T-Shirt etc and then headed to Jan’s charity tent. They were great and we had sandwiches and a Mars bar there before heading down to a great pub by the beach at South Shields for a much appreciated cold beer by the seaside. There was about a half hour wait at the Metro station to get the train back to Newcastle which wasn’t bad considering the numbers coming from the race. It’s good to spend some time in South Shields to avoid the long waiting times right after the race.
We headed back to the hotel for a shower and then out for a fantastic steak at Cafe Rouge to regenerate the muscles. We were really surprised that the town was very quiet. Almost all of the 57,000 runners and family all just go home after the race. The bars around the centre were very quiet too, quite disappointing when we were expecting a crazy Newcastle night out. I had some great local Newcastle ales down at the Quayside area of town though before heading back to the hotel a little worse for wear.