The Blaydon Race celebrates the journey depicted in the Tyneside anthem ‘The Blaydon Races’, which were horse races run on a race course near Blaydon until 1916. Starting at Balmbra’s Pub in Newcastle, it follows the route along Collingwood Street, Scotswood Road and Scotswood Bridge to finish in Blaydon. The race has been run since 1981 and this year’s race marked the 150th anniversary of the song being written and its first performance at Balmbra’s Music Hall.
Chris said : Anyone who knows me will of course instantly tell that I’m a Geordie … well ok, there’s not much of a giveaway… but still, your hometown always stays deep rooted in you somewhere. And one thing I’ve never done is run a race in my hometown; so when I heard about the Blaydon Race I knew that was the one for me. I went to school in Blaydon, my squash club was in Blaydon – the ties are all there! And this was the 150th anniversary of the Geordie national anthem ‘The Blaydon Races’ from which the race takes its theme – I was drawn to it. And it’s only 5.9 miles – perfect as I must be one of the laziest runners I know!
For those who haven’t heard of it – the song starts …
You want more – check out this link (includes the words so you can sing along):
The 150th Festival was everything described in the song and more. Stalls and black pudding at the finish (ugh – sorry – I was a total veggie for years, how I ended up in that queue heaven knows!), a great send off with Can-Can girls followed by a fine rendition of the Blaydon Races and then church bells pealing at the start in the centre of Newcastle – and of course in true festival style, (and the first line of a later verse, ‘The rain it poor’d aw the day an’ myed the groons quite muddy’) 10 minutes before the start of the race …rain, lots of it, big belting drops!
The race pretty much follows the route of the song, starting at Balmbra’s, the old music hall where the song got its first airing (yes, it’s all steeped in history folks) and then along Collingwood Street and an incredible run along the Scotswood Road (you probably need to be a Geordie to appreciate it) – by this time, the road was difficult to see – but the road was there under all the water. I’ve never run in such a wet race – it went on and on. That being said, spirits were high, some good blether along the way and of course the rain had definitely ‘myed the groons quite muddy’ at the finish on the playing fields at Blaydon – fantaaaastic! What a hoot!
Not sure how they time this sort of race; it was one of those mega scrum starts. My watch time was 43:36, ‘official result’ time was 44:21 with a placing of 1078 out of 3589. Great t-shirt at the end and beer in your goody bag which my support team noted was very tasty! 100% fun – even with those conditions, I’d do it again!