Tyne & Wear - it's been a long time coming. The last of the really northern counties, this is my fourth attempt due to repeated Covid cancellations. I was booked to do a race here in November but (deeply annoyingly) received the following email a week before the race:
"Thanks for entering the Run Before Christmas. As well as having to postpone this event from 2020, we have also had to move the event to Durham as Sunderland Council are not permitting event organisers with no previous events in the region to hold an event in 2021. We did email everyone when we decided to change venues towards the end of October. However, there are always some email addresses where the emails can end up in junk or sometimes do not get through filters. If you are not aware of this change, please be aware we have had to move this event to Durham City..."
Sadly too late for me to cancel our non-refundable hotel and I'd already done County Durham... Not sure I really believe the "it went into spam" excuse as I checked my spam and there was no sign of it - I'd also had plenty of other emails from them before. Hmm.
So I hunted for another and found this tiny low key race held by North East Marathon Club. £19 to enter - surely the cheapest marathon of all the counties? - and falling on a Bank Holiday so I didn't even have to use any annual leave. I duly shifted all my Christmas plans to facilitate it, the hotel let us rebook and Ben and I headed off straight from my parents' house post-Christmas excesses.
We stopped for lunch at Willo and Gordy's in Leeds and had delicious tomato soup and cheese scones and then carried on for another hour and a half through the fog.
The next morning we arrived at the start with a whole 15 minutes to spare. Registration was outdoors (nicely Covid friendly) though it was drizzling with rain.
I collected my number and handed in some tins and stuff for the food bank collection. Ben and I got chatting to a nice guy called Matt who was planning on doing the full six hours as training for The Wall next year. Soon it was time for the race briefing and then we were off!
It was a bit misty and drizzly and Ben took this atmospheric photo as I disappeared into the distance:
I couldn't find her instagram page (even though she told me what it was called - sigh) so if you see this Louise please leave me a comment so I can find you!
There were some Explorer Scouts helping with the marshalling and they were very enthusiastic. The girl in the pink coat was particularly enthusiastic and made me laugh a few times with her flamboyant pointing. I knew they were selling tea and cake at the end and I was already looking forward to it!
I had some Coke and then Ben ran with me round the little lake. As we came out by the brewery on the far side of the lake, we just caught a bride going in to her wedding! This is the 90th time I've run the marathon distance and the first time I've seen a mid-race wedding. Got to love that!
I only realised after we finished that we had the same trainers!
At the end I got my medal, told them my finish time (they didn't want someone to have to stand around for six hours in the drizzly rain, which quite frankly I couldn't blame them for), then had two cups of tea and some Christmas cake from the Explorers. I drastically overpaid them because they were fundraising for the Jamboree which apparently costs £4200 per person - it's in South Korea next year.