As we approached the beautiful Wallington Hall the sun climbed in the sky and the masses started to turn up. Some 700 runners were in attendance and the Team Decathlon organisers headed up by race director Richard Hunter did a great job putting this fixture together. Vests from all the north easts clubs were on show, as well as an above average smattering of fun runners and fitness fanatics out for the day.
I have been foolishly trying to get into shape for the London Marathon so my goal today was a negative split 1.25 and to feel good. I was in a great mood, bumped into my old coach who was time keeping - who then kindly reminded me that a 1.25 was a slow Sunday run back in the 90's, oh how i wish that was the case now. Still - by my reckoning I must be close to world record holder on a speed/weight ratio these days.
As we stood on the start line I looked across and wondered who might be contesting the win - a quick hello to Michael Morris, a determined looking Conrad Franks and a chat to my vastly under rated Tynedale club mate Richard Parker ( who would be some runner if we could stop him swimming and biking) left me thinking they might be the top three today. It's not often that I am right - but today I was. I'd be lying if I didn't feel a pang of jealousy - I just love a good race. Richard Hunter gave the competitors a pep talk, we were graced by Stacey Smith ( let's hope she has the summer of her life) and we were off.
I gave myself a wry smile as I found myself in about 100th position despite running a steep downhill first mile in around 6.13 - I was pretty sure I'd be passing folks today. I saw the usual faces off in the distance and a bunch of club mates a good few hundred metres in front. As I plodded through the Northumberland countryside - I couldn't help but think that we are so lucky to be able to do this incredible sport of ours - I saw many people at the start line running for charity and wondered how many of us (myself included) take our running for granted? Anyway - the Wallington course is quite a challenging one - there are many long steady climbs, and whilst it's a relief to get to a downhill stretch it is spoiled by the knowledge that in a mile or two you will have to climb back up again. This might be a picturesque run but its not a PB course. I ran with my Marathon training partner Mr Marsden for 8 miles as we worked through the field, passing Low Fell vests, Wallsend, Tyne Bridge and best of all every Tynedale vest in front of us (well except for the afore mentioned Mr Parker - who incidentally cycled 30miles home after coming third).
After a great run I enjoyed shooting the breeze with my fellow competitors, cheering on finishers for the next hour and then a great walk around the grounds of this beautiful hall. This is definitely a day out for the family and more than just a sunday race - my highlight of the day was watching all the kids races - there's nothing more satisfying watching them hurtle around the woods at a million miles an hour with a big smile on their faces - that's why I love our sport so much.
Afterwards As I smiled wryly to myself on a job well done - I did promise myself that I would work really hard over the next year to lose weight and to see if I can get good again. Mind you two hundred yards later all I wanted was a massive Sunday lunch and a couple of pints!
Let's get through London and see what happens.
Ronnie has been a member of Tynedale Harriers for more than 25 years. A County level athlete in his teen's he still plays an active role within his club and runs competitively as often as possible. He is currently training for this year's London Marathon.
North East Runner would like to thank Ronnie for his contribution. If you would like to send us your story then feel free to get in touch through our Contact Us page.