Having overindulged yet again on New Years Eve I really couldn’t face the prospect (and mud) of Captain Cooks again, particularly as I barely remember last years race. Having seen the photos of this years (There was a railway crossing?) I know I made the right decision to skip it and do the Sunderland parkrun New Years Day special instead. There were loads of other Striders and friends there, a great atmosphere and the biggest disappointment was my time, nearly 4 minutes off my previous best. Still nothing a McDonalds breakfast (or two) couldn’t fix and it was up the motorway to the day’s main event.
Jacquie (still driving, thankfully) and I found Morpeth Rugby Club and the Race HQ and registered in plenty of time. Well I did anyway. Jacquie thought better of it. Fiona was there too as well as a smattering of familiar faces from other road races – perhaps it was the missing faces at other events the same day that disorientated me?
This race in it’s present form is relatively new, but has an illustrious history. The Morpeth (originally from Morpeth to Newcastle), as it was simply known, began in 1904 and ran until it’s centenary year of 2004 before the cost of road closures and increasing safety measures caused it to be changed.
The course itself was surprisingly tough, starting with a short downhill it quickly climbs and keeps climbing for the first 3 or 4 miles. Eventually you reach the road which I think is the only part of the course shared with early August’s Tuesday night Morpeth 10k, and from there and down past the Piramal factory it was all downhill to the finish. Well, almost. At about 6 miles there’s a short sharp rise to the top of a hill in a beautiful park (obviously my first thought was, “Ooh this is nice, could you fit a parkrun course in?”), then a last few hundreds yards on surprisingly dry grass to the finish line.
We went back to the race HQ for the presentation and a nice cup of coffee, but it looked like they had a bit of an issue with the results so we didn’t hang on for the presentations, which I now regret as I think Fiona must have won her age category. A cracking run and great value with friendly marshals. I didn’t see a water station though which I guess you might want to be aware of. Yet more choice for next New Year’s Day…