I spent 19 years at the University of Durham, first as a Lecturer in the Department of Computer Science and then as an IT Consultant in the IT Service. I had a great time; but it was time for a change. So, on 21st March 2005, I moved to a post in Computing Services at the University of Oxford.
For the time being, I will still be updating my running pages, including the "future races" page. You will find them at www.northeastraces.com. My new e-mail address is given at www.northeastraces.com/contact.
My obsession with road running started on 11th March 2001 when I started training with eight others from the IT Service. We call ourselves "ITS Club 9".Our aim was to compete in the Great North Run in September 2001. The GNR is a half marathon (13.1M) road race from Newcastle to South Shields.
We started off with 2.2M training runs: this was scary as we were exhausted after 2.2M and the target was an astronomical 13.1M. However, we gradually increased the mileage, first getting to 3.7M and then to 4.3M visiting exciting places like the Seven Stars, the Cock of the North, the Duke of Wellington and Neville's Cross. Later we went to the Broompark Picnic Site and did some mixed terrain routes clocking up 5M and 6.7M.
So we had the appropriate mileage for our first race: the 5.7M Blaydon Race (which took place on 9th June 2001). It rained continuously with the wind and the rain hitting us head on. The following week we did the 10K at Newton Aycliffe. Our next race was another 10K, this time at Morpeth, and it rained yet again. Not a good start to racing!
However, by this time, I was hooked, and, on July 4th, I entered the Tynedale 10K on my own. Being a novice, it was scary at the start, but it all worked out in the end: the Tyneside 10K is a fast race, takes in some interesting scenery, and is a really friendly race.
In our training we increased our mileage even more: we even reached Quebec! This was a 12M circular route from the Picnic Site. Unfortunately, it was the time of the foot and mouth outbreak and so most of our routes had to be on roads.
"Really hooked", because a month later (August 5th), the day after my nephew's wedding, I entered a 20K off-road race at Milland in Surrey. At that time, this was a bit ambitious but I paced myself through.
Most of us had got our mileage up sufficiently that the Great North Run no longer loomed up as an impossible target. Instead, we were left with the logistics of the day to sort out. My notes for the race say that it was "too crowded to run properly" and that my "official time was 118m23s but that it took over 6m00s to get to the start".
So we had completed our target: the Great North Run. I was a bit disappointed with my time but I had had three training-free weeks in the Kruger National Park at the end of August, and so I was off form.
Although it could all have ended there, it didn't. During the next four years, ITS Club 9 has continued to train and race, and has also won some corporate team prizes. After a year or so, I even got other members to race during the winter months, venturing as far South as Leeds and Huddersfield, but often on these early morning winter journeys I was on my own.
During these four years, I packed the races in. Many of them were 10K, but quite a few were 10M or half marathons. Some were fast road races (such as the Leeds Abbey Dash and the Wakefield Hospice City 10K) whilst others were off-road like the delightful All Terrain Events Wild Races and the Gibside Fruit Bowl race. I also discovered the wonders of Yorkshire through the Black Sheep Brewery Race Series, the Airedale Triple, the Brass Monkey half marathon, the Roberttown half marathon, the Richmond Castle 10K, and many more besides. All of those races are recommended to you. Not just Yorkshire, but lots of wonderful places throughout the North East: examples are the Coastal Run, the Pier to Pier, Brampton to Carlisle, North Shields, Bishop Auckland, Jarrow and Hebburn. And who could ever forget the exciting time we had in Darlington in August 2003!
I also raced in Cuba (Havana), Cyprus (Pafos and Tsada), Italy (Turin), Madeira (Funchal), Norway (Tromso) and Spain (Barcelona).
By July 2003, I had done 100 races, and, in November 2004, I entered my 149th race (a half marathon in Cuba). Although I was pleased with my time, unfortunately, during the race I developed a knee injury and have not trained/raced since. I'm hoping with time it might disappear, but in the back of my mind I feel that it will only re-occur later and that perhaps I won't run again.
Just for the record, my PBs are:
length name of race date time pace 10K Leeds Abbey Dash 01 Dec 2002 42m52s 6m53s 69 10M Brampton to Carlisle 16 Nov 2002 72m43s 7m16s 18 13.1M Jedburgh 26 Oct 2003 97m32s 7m26s 20The last column of the above table shows the number of races I've competed in at those distances.
Besides introducing me to wonderful countryside and friendly villages, I also got to know a lot of people, those fellow-runners who started off as strangers but who started chatting to me before and after races. And some even introduced themselves to me whilst racing to say how wonderful my WWW pages are!
I would particularly like to thank all members of ITS Club 9; John from the Quakers Running Club; Eric and John from Swaledale Runners; Gavin from Norham Running Club; John, Eileen and Robert from Tynedale Harriers; Paramjeet and Alison from All Terrain Events; David from Concordia; and John, Graham and Alan from Elvet Striders. There are others who were always friendly but whose names I do not know/remember.
Thanks also to those that have cheered me at races (Gilbert, Hetty, Karl, Gavin, ... ): always very helpful. I will never forget the shout of Durham in the final stretch of a Brampton to Carlisle race: I couldn't acknowledge them as I was milking the ground to get a PB.
Thanks also to the race organisers and to the unthanked heroes: the people at the water stations and the marshals both of whom battled on no matter the weather, often with a smile on their face. If they weren't smiling, then, whilst I raced past them, I would throw them a one-liner that tried to get them to smile: sometimes it worked!
Finally, I would like to thank those of you who have taken time to e-mail corrections to my running WWW pages. These have been most welcomed as accuracy is paramount.
Thanks to you all. I've had a great time racing in the North East.