This was part of the ‘Winter Wonder’ series organised by North East Marathon Club. I’ve been a member of NEMC for two years and enjoy their local, low key events. The Winter Wonders have generally been a Newcastle Town Moor fixture but this year have started to branch out to such places as Herrington and, next month, Hardwick Park. You don’t have to be a marathon runner to be a member of NEMC and the Winter Wonders are designed accordingly for runners of all distances. They tend to be multi-lap events, for participants to run as far as they wish within a six hour window. There are no finishing placings as such and sometimes runners’ own times are used as their ‘official’ time. I also like them because you get to run past the refreshment table for snacks and drinks every few miles, avoiding the need to carry your own kit.
Fellow Harriers Justin Cox and Ben Smale also took part. Justin needs no introduction. Ben is an unassuming guy from Coxhoe and a good runner (first Harrier at the Coxhoe Trail 10k the other month) and we shared a lift. Coxhoe, by the way, is a hotbed of running talent, just ask Mil Walton. Following Storm Deirdre and her freezing rain the previous day, this was a chilly but rather pleasant sunny morning for running. I chose road shoes based on the tarmac path at the start, but soon questioned that once we danced through some downhill icy slush. Despite having to stop twice to empty stones out of said shoes, it was a decent decision. Herrington Park, a colliery until 1985 with the largest spoil heap in the North East, is in the shadow of Penshaw Monument and the course was a 5km loop on good paths. There were several inclines but they served more to break up the run rather than tire out and it was an enjoyable event in good surroundings. I’m not training for anything in particular so was happy to call it a day after five laps and sixteen miles. Further ahead Ben had decided the same. He’s recently completed five marathons in five days at an event near Bolton so felt he didn’t to push himself too much. Justin lapped me on lap four, well ahead of anyone else. I happen to also know the guy in second place, Elvet’s Gareth Pritchard from Coxhoe (hotbed, I did say).
75 runners completed the event, each deciding their own distance, with 25 doing a full marathon or more. All entry monies were for charity too, raising an impressive £1,500 for Special Olympics Sunderland. For the record, I completed my five laps (16.2 miles) in 2hrs 27:40, and Ben in 2 hrs 17. I stiffened up on the last lap but was pleased overall. Justin ran 8 laps+, the full marathon distance in 3hrs 1:33; a great effort for a training run, eight minutes quicker than anyone else.
A bonus was that Herrington Park has an electric car charging station, which got me all the way home too. Result!
Full results from a very well organised event can be found at: http://www.northeastmarathonclub.co.uk/winter-wonder-runs.php
by Pete King