Marathon of the North 2013

[Sun 28th Apr] 


Congratulations to all the Blyth runners who competed in the various races over the Marathon of the North weekend at Sunderland.  On the Saturday evening in the junior 1 mile races Connor Marshall finished 3rd in the U12 boys race and Charlie Hedley 2nd in the U16 girls.

Moving on to a cool, blustery Sunday and the 10K, ½ marathon and full marathon;

Full Marathon


Chip Time

Gun Time





Peter Holmback




Karen Singleton




Ray Carmody




Adele Lonsdale




Davina Lonsdale

Half Marathon


Chip Time

Gun Time





Andrew Grieves




Lee Simpson




Alison Lowes



Chip Time

Gun Time





Lynn Munro

[results can be found HERE]


Report from the half marathon by Lee Simpson.

Since the inception of the Sunderland 10k back in 2011, this was the third ‘Runs of the North’ festival. What started with a 10k, then added a marathon, now bridges that gap with a third distance, the half marathon.  Being the first running of this, I signed up, eager to address my wayward HM PB.

That PB of 2.13 was set about a year ago, and wasn’t even challenged through 2012 with performances of plus 5 – 10 minutes on that being the norm due to a performance and motivation dip. I’d originally booked two HM’s to create structure to my Rotterdam Mara training, the first one, the Brass Monkey was cancelled, the second, Blackpool Half I couldn’t attend as I had to reluctantly be in Las Vegas for the same week.  So with that the HMOTN was my first HM of 2013, kind of in the wrong date order, but it was there for me to ‘make the best of it’.

This was my 10th ever HM, and even with that in mind, it’s still not an art I’ve quite mastered, but, my tactics are improving and as such both pacing and in-run strategy were to be tested today.  My goal wasn’t too aggressive but simply shave a little off that number, so the plan was set and off I headed to Sunderland.

So as I arrived at the Stadium of Light, I was greeted with gale force winds, which even with the 9 degrees C temperature, they delivered an icy chill not suited to running attire. A quick look around and I saw lots of people, but not really a ‘festival of running’ scene. Some signage had been packed away due to fear of it blowing away and other than a tent for the massage teams and the main stage, there didn’t seem to be much of anything. Very different to the last two years which had a real buoyant feel.

I headed into the ground which seemed to be the most popular choice for the runners, picked up a hot chocolate (it seemed apt) and retreated back to the car for a bit. Got bored with that, headed out once more bumping into a fellow Blyth RC member (Ray) running the marathon, a quick exchange and we parted ways – I then warmed up with a loop of the stadium – whilst cold, I knew that when I eventually got running that particular pain would disappear to be replaced with another.

We congregated at the start line for a 9.30 start, full and half marathon competitors alike, a minutes silence mostly was observed by the gathered crowd, and then a short speech by person unknown set us on our way. Thank god, we were moving!!

For those who know the 10k course, after crossing the start line you head uphill across a bridge, and because it narrows, the runners seem to behave more like dodgems as they navigate this very congested area – a little frustrating, but now seems par for the course for busy events such as this. It didn’t trouble me too much though as we turned into North Bridge Street and the runners found their own space as they headed towards the one single landmark of the event, the Wearmouth Bridge. I always enjoy crossing the bridge here, because it is one of the better supported parts of the course in addition to the start/finish area.

Mile 1 brought you into the city centre along Fawcett Street in a comfortable and on target split of 9.34. The strategy for this event was simple, and that was to keep scraping under 10m/m and achieve a 1-2 minute PB.

Into mile 2, and as you passed Mowbray Park on the left (The point where the 10k turns off), you were rewarded with a small uphill to get the lungs working some more. Still early on, it was an easy challenge for now, and you were quickly rewarded with a descent of the same gradient. The course turned back onto itself taking the adjacent Toward Road back north again. The course rolled on fairly anonymous streets for a mile or so posting that in 9.31.

Mile 3 offered a very fast downhill with 75 feet of descent , as enjoyable as this was, this only took you part way through the mile before hill tax became payable; which with the exception of a small descent was climbing all the way to the 5.5 mile point. Mile three 9.23 and a quick shout out to Lee Cuthbertson setting the pace with the leaders on the other side, Mile four 9.24, Mile 5 9.42 – quite pleased with that given those last two were mostly a slog upwards.

Mile 5 proved tougher for me, but I downed a caffeinated Maxifuel to make the world better again – didn’t help the time though! Also, I nearly injured the council guy collecting water bottles on this part of the route, I aimed at the bin with my half finished water carton, but hit him squarely on the head – he didn’t seem to mind though, or he wasn’t prepared to chase me for revenge. Apologising/taking a gel/breathing, I decided, is incompatible.

There really wasn’t much to inspire on the streets of Sunderland on this sleepy Sunday morning, we could have been anywhere really, but it meant I kept the focus on the plan rather than sightseeing or any other type of distraction. The course after doing some looping, and, by using both carriageways there and back, was now turning back on itself and setting itself up for a run to the west. After which (you’ve guessed it) it loops back on itself to head back east and the city centre once more! Look at the course guide and it looks like a spider with ink on its legs designed the route.

Back to the point, miles 6/7 delivered you to a major road. A shout out from another Blyth man, set me up. I mumbled back enthusiastically, but not sure if it was coherent! 9.43, 9.50 on those which showed a weakening resolve, despite the good wishes of Blyth RC.

I pressed on up the road, getting a preview of the route ahead with everyone at a faster pace returning down the other side. As I reached this point on the other side of the street, a cheery Alison Singer waved hello, I did my best to return the greeting with a forced, but I hope pleasant, grunt to ensure the breathing continued.

Mile 8 – err, no idea. I got through it at 9.50, warning danger ahead, vehicle slowing!

Mile 9 again a large road, one side heading towards Barnes Park, the other side returning – another shout from the Blyth RC colours saw me close that in 9.46. My own personal commentary of the event praising me for the good job so far!! To plan, which is nice, although, I concluded, self congratulation is bordering on narcissism!

As we entered mile 10, we came to a large roundabout to hook up to the right and climb to the local park. I hated this park. Full of it’s trees, grass, park-iness, it was somewhat annoying. I’m sure it’s a pleasant park on any other day, but in mile 10 it’s purpose was just to frustrate me with its narrowing path, mainly uphill, double back on yourself to climb a sharp-ish hill before leaving the park just after the completion of the mile-ness. 10.27, bloody park. There was a nice crowd and a band there though, I hope I looked appreciative Somehow I doubt it.

Well first mile over 10 m/m, bugger! Had the wheels come off? No, but aside from the weather dark clouds from my mood assembled overhead.

Luckily it was all downhill from here, well actually, no, I lie, Mile 11 was downhill. Mood improving with 10.15 for that split.

Then mile 12 delivered me back into reality (aka the city centre), a great crowd was assembled and many shouts of Come on Blyth, Come on Lee, all propelled me on towards that one single landmark of the course, the bridge. Spurred on by this, and a conversation with a marathoner who still had 14 miles to go, I tucked in and went for it. Mile 12 10.03, edging back towards plan.

Despite the purple patch around mile’s 9 & 10, I knew my front end times had more than countered these, so much so, the PB was mine unless I decided to throw myself from the bridge for some reason. Being a coward though, I knew that wouldn’t happen, so I pressed on. Over the bridge, great support turned me into a one minute athlete, and that last mile that jinked through the back streets near the stadium closed in 8.47.

As I neared the finish line, a shout out on the PA for both Blyth and Lee, sealed a good day at the office. 2.06.05, and for the first time in two years, that Garmin time matched my official result too. This was well over a seven minute PB, yes it was a soft goal, but I couldn’t be more delighted. If I can get rid of some of this beef, train smarter, sub 2 has to be on the radar.


As for HMOTN and the running festival:-


1/ More festival please


2/ Perhaps we can have a HM that measures 13.1m (by my calculation it was slightly under – but it’s still a PB btw)


3/ Perhaps you should not tease your full marathoners with a halfway stage within spitting distance of the finish


4/ Perhaps you can make it less windy


5/ Import more supporters from somewhere, great support in 'batches'


6/ Good tech-t/medal and random stuff, presented on the field of dreams that is Sunderland FC’s home… can debate that last point!