As is often the case, we were blessed with good weather and excellent conditions for the race. Although I can think of a couple of occasions where it’s been quite warm, I can only think of 2007 where we had poor weather, but due to injury, I was a spectator that day.
Arriving an hour and a half before kick-off gave me plenty of time to get parked up, chat with other runners from the club and relax prior to warming up. It was good to see Helen and Nick Simmons along with their new-ish arrival, baby daughter Freya. Nick was looking after the baby while Helen was taking part in her first race for quite a while.
As I was completing my warm-up, some African lad with a huge grin on his face, jogging in the opposite direction greeted me with a high-five. He was obviously looking forward to the race. It’s always a great atmosphere with plenty of encouragement from the crowds and also other runners.
Getting to the start in good time, I knew I wasn’t quick enough to be in the sub-40 section of the starting grid, so sneaked in at the back of that group so that I was near the front of the sub-50 section, as I was expecting a time of hopefully sub-42. It was here I bumped into club-mates Eddie Meehan, Di Jobson and Mark Batey as well as a couple of Billingham Marsh House Harriers who I know. The plan was not to go off too quick and doing the first kilometre in just over 4 minutes was fine, though slightly quicker than planned. I then settled into a nice comfortable pace, getting some encouragement from Nick Simmons as I made my way along Acklam Road. I passed the 2k mark in 8.20 which was a pace I felt I could hopefully maintain. It was here our Road Manager Paul McGough was taking photos and shouting words of encouragement. A few of us called to the lad wearing a Tyne Bridge Harriers vest that his shoelace was undone around this mark, but he chose not to stop and ended up running the rest of the race like this!
As the course makes its way to the 3k mark, there’s a bit of an incline, so it’s important to dig in a bit here. Getting to Marton Crossroads, near the 4k mark, which is where I took a Mary Decker style tumble 4 years ago, I noticed at the side of the road one of my childhood mates (I was brought up in Easterside) and also a lad I know from the gym and received a couple of shouts from them. The crowds seem to come out in force at this corner, really helping the atmosphere.
Marton Road is straight and slightly downhill, so it’s a nice fast stretch and I managed to complete it in about 8 minutes or so, passing the halfway point in 20.40 before hitting the 6 k mark just over 4 minutes later. The next 2 miles or so are probably the hardest part of the course. It’s slightly uphill along Keith Road and Green Lane and sometimes, there’s a bit of a headwind. Getting past 7k in just under 29 minutes, I wasn’t far off PB pace, but it’s around here that I always start to feel the pace a little. Myself and the Tyne Bridge Harrier continued to do battle. As we approached Acklam Park I could see myself gaining on a club mate. I recognised the gait of Paul Levett. Paul pulled up at the side of the road briefly before carrying on, albeit at a reduced pace as I seemed to be gaining on him. I didn’t know what the problem was at the time, but found out later, his knee had been giving him a bit of trouble. I managed to edge past him as we made our way back onto Acklam Road, up the incline and into the slight headwind towards Hall Drive. As you turn into Hall Drive, you definitely get picked up by the noise of the increased crowd around this part of the course. After 9.4k, it definitely helps and it’s a case of finishing as fast as possible, though the 500m Hall Drive until St David’s Way seems to go on forever. Eventually, you see the runners ahead take the final corner and you know that the finish is only about 100m from there.
I was happy with my time of 41.36, 19 seconds outside a PB, but my fastest time at the Middlesbrough 10k. Coming just over 3 weeks after a 5k PB, I was quite happy with that, though with 19 seconds being practically nothing over 10k, I did wonder if I could have pushed myself a bit more. There were plenty of good performances from our runners, though the main disappointment was our own Matty Hynes, one of the favourites to win, pulling out towards the end of the race. Hopefully, he’ll be back to regain his title next year. Paul Bentley was the first home from the club in a time of 33:41. Whenever he’s raced this year, he’s usually been up there amongst the front-runners so good work from him. Chris Dunne (33:51) and Alisdair Tatham (33:59) weren’t far behind. David Watkins recorded his best 10k time in over 20 years, finishing in 36:49. David also managed to achieve a negative split, which isn’t easy on this course. Richard Fawcett finished in 37:11, then we had a couple of PBs, David Aaron (38:37) and Darren Clements (39:00). Both Dave and Darren have impressed in training in recent months so it’s good to see them reap the rewards. It’s pleasing to see David Ainsley back running again after so much time off with injuries, and he came in just under the 41 minute mark. Paul Levett finished in 42 minutes, a few minutes down on what he would normally expect, clearly affected by his knee injury. Ken Farrell came in with a PB (42:43) and according to Run Britain, so did Di Jobson (43:56), though she tells me that she’s definitely run sub-43.
Full results can be found here:
Photos can be found here: