Saturday 14th July saw yet another new location join the North East parkrun family – this week it was the turn of Chester-le-Street to have it’s inaugural event, named Riverside after it’s location in Riverside park. The regular Durham parkrun was called off for the first time in it’s history, we were due to run the alternative course because the Miners gala taking over the finishing straight of the normal course, but due to the amount of rain that has fallen in July, the cricket pitch of the alternate course was too waterlogged to accommodate 150+ runners completing two laps around it.
As it happens I’d already pencilled in the Riverside parkrun due to it being so close to home, having looked at the course description it looked like it was going to be fast and flat with only a small section of grass, although it’s multi lap which isn’t may favourite type of course. One thing to note is you do need to pay for parking at Riverside park, it’s only 60p an hour though.
After the usual introductions from the Race Director Natalie Scott, we were off, it was quite a narrow start and took a couple of minutes for the field to spread out, it’s an anti-clockwise route and before too long you are running just a couple of feet from the river. I found myself tucked in behind Alister who in turn was just a few places behind Paul Smith. The first lap was fast and furious, the second pretty similar, as the course is quite narrow you get so see the runners on the early part of the lap as you are heading along the river and back towards the start. On the third and final lap I started to tire and I was more than happy to take the right hand turn to the finish. It definitely felt quick, I managed to knock 41 seconds off my parkrun PB, not a chance I could do the same time after the energy sapping fields of Durham though.
The organisers had brought a huge cake along which the completing runners gratefully accepted, there was also Bucks Fizz which I somehow managed to miss. There’s a cafe cooking fresh sausage and bacon sandwiches and selling tea and coffee, although it didn’t seem to have an inside area though so there might not be many people hanging around on cold winters days. I think this will be quite a popular parkrun, the park was already busy at 9am with a bootcamp underway and numerous dog walkers, looks like quite a busy place with good amenities.
13 Striders completed the course, with Adam coming home in 12th and then taking up the role of barcode scanning! Wallsend Harrier’s Yared Hagos completed his first ever parkrun and set what looks to a course record that will stand for a very long time, an amazing 14:43. So that’s 11 North East parkruns now, we are spoilt for choice.
Apparently this charity 10K takes place every year (previously run by John H) but this year was the first time I’d heard of it. Hamsterley Forest has some fantastic tracks and trails in it and, once you get away from the car parks, is very picturesque and is home to interesting flora and fauna including DFRs.
The pre-race information did make it clear that it would be mostly trail will two big hills one at the start and one midway so no ‘surprises’ then (for most of us at least). My step-daughter had arrived unexpectedly this weekend from Norwich and fancied a run that had hills as apparently there are no hills in Norfolk!
The sun was out and the sky was blue for a change as the 300 runners turned up including 10 Striders. Parking for those not arriving early was challenging but otherwise organisation was excellent with lots of marshals and white arrows. Appropriate running music was provided but Bishop Auckland Hospital Radio.
We walked up the track to the start and off we went straight along to hill number one. As usual I headed off far too fast and before long was very hot and it felt increasingly humid. Further along however there was a nice breeze before the next hill at around half way. At the top there was a lovely long run down and then a pretty flat fast final 3k.
The finish line caught a few runners out as it wasn`t signposted and, without realising, I found I`d finished the race. Pretty soon all the striders were in and it was time to collect the goody bags, which, considering the £13 entrance fee, was quite generous. Contents varied but I now own a cotton t-shirt, stopwatch, sport relief socks, Mars bar, medal and drink. Hopefully there was still a decent amount of money left over for The Butterwick Hospice.
Overall a well organised local run in lovely surroundings in aid of a good cause and, as ever, great company.
Two new 5 mile races in one week? Well not quite as this one was actually a re-introduction of a race that was last run 70 years ago albeit in reverse as they couldn’t run the original route. The only thing it had in common with the Bridges of the Tyne earlier in the week was the distance too.
Where the Bridges of the Tyne was a flat out and back this was a loop which didn’t start and finish at the same place. Starting just downhill from Prudhoe’s Waterworld leisure centre, where the parking was, you climbed up that first little hill and followed the mainly downhill (and into the wind) section to the A695, before a sharp left up to and beyond West Mickley. Those who supported George when he recently carried the Olympic Torch nearby and came back to the Blue Bell pub will know the road and climb! The route proceeded up and up for about a mile until eventually and thankfully it flattened out at the top of the valley and then it was all down hill to finish at the school, familiar to those who run the Prudhoe XC.
Dave Selby’s friend, and potentially future Strider Alice, recent ladies winner at the Bamburgh 10K had another great run finishing 3rd lady. I had a tough battle with a couple of Blackhill Bounders eventually managing to hold them off, Dave S was next in after me, closely followed by Anna with Dave Robson next as Melanie put her famous sprint finish on hold and kindly allowed him over the line first. There was a lovely, if exceptionally bright yellow, tech tee to all finishers and after a painful walk back to the leisure centre Anna, Mel, Dave and I rounded a lovely sunny morning with a coffee and a bacon butty and some cake.
I think there’ll be a bigger field next year!