I did the second of a two day event, day one following either the North Tyne or South Tyne and the second day following the Tyne itself from Hexham to Tynemouth. As with the previous Avid Runner event that I had completed it was a very small field, 6 of us with 5 eventual finishers. There was meant to be more running the second day but a tough first day had led to a lot of DNS’s.
The route initially didn’t follow the river but took us up into the woods above Hexham before dropping us down the riverbanks just west of Corbridge. There were a few potential places for error early on so we stuck together as a group and only really started to split up once we got onto the main riverside path. From here it was along the Tyne to Riding Mill before again being sent through woodland and farmland to eventually rejoin the river at Ovingham. I ran all this section with a NEMC member and was glad of the company as we had abandoned the basic instructions early on and were relying on our map reading skills. Luckily it was very easy but it was good to have a second opinion at a few path junctions.
From Prudhoe onto Wylam, the going got a lot easier underfoot and a lot flatter as was expected for a run out along a river. I had however never seen the river path so busy before with what seemed like hundreds of cyclists, runners and walkers so there was plenty of swerving to avoid collisions. Soon after Newburn I ended up running on my own and this remained the case until the end.
After Newburn, the cycle route NCN72 was followed all the way to the coast which made navigation very easy although the battle through the shoppers at the quayside market was interesting. Was very tempted to have a swift pint in the Tyne bar but the next checkpoint was within sight so onwards I ran to catch up with another runner. He was having a bit of a hard time and planned on walking for the next section but my legs had finally woken up so I tried to keep the pace up. I was now up to second but the lad in first place was long gone so knew that as long as I tried to run the remaining 10ish miles without too much walking then no one should catch me.
It seemed to take forever to reach the next checkpoint at Royal Quays although I surprised the marshal there by reaching her so quickly. She promised me that it was only about 5 miles to go and that I was about 10 mins behind first place. Definitely not enough distance to make up that time but still forced myself to run most of the remaining distance. Whoever put the signs up however were having a laugh, I must have passed about 3-4 which all said Tynemouth 5 miles, I wondered if I had stopped or was going round in circles.
Finally into North Shields then it was the last drag round to Tynemouth with a finish line on the pier. This was a much easier event to navigate than the northern cities and with well stocked checkpoints and friendly marshals definitely beginner friendly for anyone tempted to step up to ultra distances.