The one and only Keith Rooney reports from the 1st race of the Jesmond Dene Handicap series.
It was sticky, the air filled with bothersome clouds of midges, I hated the blighters, they got in your mouth, up your nose and were a general pain in the arse to run through: but and this was a big but, it was warm, absolutely, bloody, marvelously warm! The winter had finally given way, I thought, as I sauntered through the humid deep green shade of Jesmond Dene, proudly displaying my black and white livery, accompanied by the young dynamo Leodhais and one of TBH’s rising new stars Jon The Artful Dodger Moss. I was familiar with the route from last year, but this time there were certain alterations to be mindful of; I didn’t like the look of the smooth steps the runners would have to negotiate and the route seemed hellishly twisty. What with that and the neck breaking descents and uphills slogs, it was going to be difficult to maintain pace, I thought, as we headed back to the start on the Armstrong Bridge.
The organisation was decent, the motorised paramedics a reassuring site, just the numbers seemed disappointing, 60 odd. Still, had to focus, exchanged the obligatory “av a gud’n” or “good luck”, set the garmin and then the multi-coloured mob of runners was streaming across the Armstrong Bridge, breaking abruptly left and plunging into the dean. I had decided to wear only the TBH top and it was just as well, for I was soon drenched in sweat. The route was narrow and windy, and it occurred to me, had the turn out been greater, there could have been problems on the path; as it was, apart from some initial pushing and jostling on the bridge, any fears of mishaps of that sort quickly evaporated, as the runners thinned out nicely. The first section to the mill house consisted of some pretty severe gradients and I have to admit my energy was sapped quickly, my pace dropping to 7.20 on the climbs. The problem was, I couldn’t make up the difference on the downhills, they were just TOO downhill, and I had to put the breaks on for fear of going arse over tip. And then those bloody steps! I was tempted to jump the lot, but visions of me rolling in the dirt and gravel, spluttering expletives with a sprained ankle, acted as a sufficient deterrent. The hill back up to the bridge, I felt I coped with reasonably well. Head down, arms pumping I re-emerged onto the bridge, where I was confronted with a wall of noise.
The various camp followers had congregated to cheer on their colours and amidst the babel, I detected the inevitable
” Roooooooney! Rooooooney!” Noting Badger Tollitt gesticulating wildly as I gambolled past. I also noted the reassuring presences of Father Baker and Monsieur Duff. The final section looked easy, but the pull up to the library end was arduous and again I was momentarily reduced to a walk as I rounded the metal pillar. This was the only part of the race, where I seemed to get in a battle with someone, namely the second lady home and representing the host club. I thought, I’d shaken her, but the chorus of noise at the finish line taught me otherwise and with a mischievous skip, she beat me to the finish by a second. Still, I was pleased, I’d smashed my PB for this course by 2 minutes and 20 seconds at 21.35 my fastest time last year being 23.54. It’s a tough mother, as 5ks go, one might say gruelling, but meat and drink to all running purists and I’ll certainly be making the effort to complete the series. I would say, however, for those, who do complete them all, there should be at least a little something as a reward; might help keep the numbers up.
Congrats to 007Fenwick and the Old Spartan, for their usual scintillating performance at the sharp end. And of course thanks for all the shouts from the TBH loyalists. Let’s see if for the next one, we can get a big black and white crowd out running, ey!
Full results to follow soon.