Thursday, 14 June 2012

The Blaydon Race 2012 - by Terry Kelly

The Writer Runs. Or is it the Runner Writes?  Our boy, disguised in jaunty cap, approaches nirvana on a wet Saturday in Blaydon (photo:

ALONG with 4,000 other hardy souls, I took part in the Blaydon Race on rain-lashed Saturday night.

It often felt more like surfing than road running, but there was the primeval satisfaction of taking on the very worst the British weather could throw at us.

And since this year also marked the 150th anniversary of the Blaydon Races itself, there was no way I was going to miss out.

The rain was gently pattering down by the time I emerged out of the Metro station, but it just got heavier and heavier.

For some reason, the famous - or infamous - underground toilets in the Bigg Market were locked, so large queues of blokes waited patiently to use a limited number of portable loos.

Realising I wouldn't make it in time, I set off down High Bridge, in search of blessed relief.

Going with strangers is not really advisable, but I noticed a group of male runners heading into a comedy cafe.

My need was great and no joke at all, so I tagged on the back, quickly realising they'd persuaded staff to allow them to use the downstairs toilets, which turned out to be state-of-the-art.

Suitably relieved, I stretched my legs with a jog towards Grey Street, before heading back to the assembled Blaydon racers, many huddling in a bookies' entrance opposite Balmbra's pub.

The sky was coal-black and the rain pulled out all the stops before we could even manage a verse or two of the timeless Blaydon Races song.

My lifelong friend, Jim McCullough, took part in the race for the first time on Saturday night, so there was a little added pressure, apart from the rain.

After wishing Jim all the best, I muscled my way into the already damp 4,000-strong crowd and headed off through Newcastle city centre.

A few brave Saturday night revellers emerged out of pubs to cheer or mock us, but being morally superior runners, we ignored their jibes.

The rain was inches deep as he went gannin' along the Scotswood Road, but I didn't feel like singing Beach Boys classics.

However, I received a boost towards the end when I met up with Corporal Andy Garthwaite, the South Tyneside soldier who lost his right arm when he was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade while serving his country in Afghanistan.

Andy was doing well in the race, but admitted he was "canny tired." I knew how he felt, but pushed on towards the end.

The finish this year was at a place called Shibdon Ponds, where soaken race staff handed out goody bags, including the all-important Blaydon Race T-shirt.

Will I be back for more in 2013? Of course, but I hope the sun has got his hat on next year.

Terry Kelly


  1. Where did you get that hat !

  2. Arnold Palmer!