Race Rundown: Leazes Park Winter Wonder, Sunday 3rd February 2019

Sunday 3rd February 2019 …… North East Marathon Club Winter Wonder at Leazes Park, Newcastle…..#“Training run in mind”….. The day started fairly early as I was picking up fellow Harriers Justin Cox and Gary Thwaites on the way …. Alarm went off around 6.10 am, up and ready…. Quick breakfast, porridge with blueberries, Mmm , and a nice coffee… A good start for a marathon run ???? (So they say).

To start…. it was minus eight outside! A quick clean of the windows and headed off, heating on and seats warming up, perfect…. The roads weren’t great but made good time picking the boys up and got there right on time as we didn’t want to be hanging about on a morning that was….. COLD !!! We parked the car and had a little walk to the park, talking about the usual stuff… what was ahead and what runs we’ve been doing, aches and pains, and of course, when you go with Gary, food !!!!! Got to the park and registered and met the other runners taking part.

T he Marathon Club has a very laid back feel and very friendly which is great, no pressure, just enjoyment. The course looked very icy in places but with our sensible heads on it was runnable. At the briefing there was a presentation of a 100 Marathon vest for Helen Schofield, which is some achievement – Well done Helen. After all the safety talk and being told it wasn’t a race or PB weather we were off, bang on 9am!!!!

Nice and slow for the first few laps just to see where the feet needed to be heading around the park. It would take sixteen laps if you were to run the full distance…. 26.2, or you could run more, as you had six hours. The park was lovely to run around, it had a few hills but these added to the enjoyment…..1.6 miles per lap, which I found was great to forget about the mileage and just count the laps ……But as I said, no pressure with these winter wonders, one can run as far as one would like – a lot use them as great training runs, myself included. My plan was to run eighteen miles…. After three laps I had to stop for a gentleman stop….. but I won’t go in to that!!! Getting back to it was fine but I didn’t want to leave the warmth of the building…..

After a while I got carried away (I blame the blueberries…..) Feeling good at eighteen miles I pushed on, another three miles or two laps. Still feeling ok, I thought why not just run the full distance…… The course started getting better as the day went on and the sun came out. Seeing other runners along the way giving each other encouraging words helped the laps disappear. Justin Cox out in front looking good with Gary Thwaites pushing on in third place, great stuff, and Ben Swales running great too. You do meet a lot of new people along the way at all these events and over the years at other events too. Nice seeing people again.

So back to the run. All good. I mainly ran by myself for most of it at a nice steady safe pace. I did tag onto Melanie Horan, the marathon club secretary and had a little chat…. til she pulled away up the hills going on to completing her 94th marathon!!!!!! With only two laps to go, legs feeling heavy !!! I had my number taken for the records – four laps – which gave me a little scare as they had missed a lap. But my watch came to the rescue with the mileage on show “phew”?…. This is when I spotted Mr Justin Cox at the cafe with a big cup of coffee!!!! ‘Go on Ray only two laps to go !!!!!!!’ Cheers …… COXY. Then Gary shouted ‘I’ve got you some chocolate cake !!!!’ Nice one…. Gazza. With that running through my head I pushed on with only one more lap to go !!!

Well as I said, all was great, when I saw Melanie ahead and pushed to catch her up … And I did til I hit the bottom of the hill for the last time and BANG!!!!! Left leg cramped up big time!!! Felt sorry for myself thinking I should have stuck to my training plan miles??? After a little stretch, I power walked up the hill… which sometimes is just as quick..???? At the top a gentleman shouted ‘Don’t push it there’s always another race to WIN!!!’ Win, I thought ?? I’m just training…. I’m sure he was just encouraging me…. I set off again, a nice downhill section which helped the tired old legs… once back at it only a little way to go, felt great to complete the distance which I didn’t think I would be doing that morning.

Had a nice warmly welcome in by all…… and after receiving my medal and socks, crisps and chocolate bar, things looked up … it was in the bag …. Jackpot: 26.67 miles. Plus this was my first official marathon as a new member to the marathon club. Then Gary passed the chocolate cake to me… magic, just what I needed… BUT a coffee would have been nice too Justin Cox ?! Well done Gary on completing your 88th marathon, they’re starting to rack up now….. Nice seeing Peter and Debbie King having a walk around the park too. Thanks for the pics.

The “true” heroes of the day were all the volunteers and marshals for standing in those cold conditions. These events wouldn’t happen if we didn’t have volunteers… Thanks again. Once warmed up we watched a few in…. We made our way back to the car…… As promised while driving up, as “ALL” good athletes, we carb’d back up at the Golden Arches !!!!!!… ( #McDonald’s) …. A steady drive back, dropping the boys off and wished them well . I then headed back to a nice hot bath which was made ready by my understanding wife of a runner ???? .

After a lovely bath and little stretch it was time to carb back up “full time” with this !!! (Parmo!) It will take another marathon or two to burn this off !!!!!

To me these run events have helped put the miles in while training for other marathons etc , which helps when needing to find long runs in the winter months. If anybody’s looking at moving the miles up, they are great and a good price too. Have a look on their website…. http://northeastmarathonclub.co.uk

A great day had by all, thanks everybody…… See you all at the next event.

“Ray out …..”

By Ray Carmichael

Results: http://www.northeastmarathonclub.co.uk/winter-wonder-runs.php

Event photos: https://photos.app.goo.gl/wxpoyNGh3hQ7imrD9

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