North Shields Poly Run For Bob – 8th Jan 2017


Unfortunately personal life can some times get in the way of the runs we have planned and I was originally hoping to do the recce run for my next race, Hedgehope Winter Wipeout by High Fell Events, which was being led by Guided Trail Running Experiences Northumberland.  A friend, or so he calls himself, had arranged a 30th birthday party on the Friday night and as much as I had tried to get out of it he wouldn’t let me so I knew I would be unable to do this run or any other for that matter the next day.  I am not a big drinker and I really suffer the after affects and tend to lose a whole day of my life the next day where I go through the process of telling myself I will never drink again only to relent at the next party or get together.  So if I couldn’t do this race I thought I would at least try for one on the Sunday where I should be feeling better.

As luck would have it there was a very local race available in the form of Run For Bob which is organised by North Shields Polytechnic Club.  This race is actually done in memory of a local runner called Bob Peart who sadly passed away in 2001 due to Cancer.  I don’t really know much of Bob Peart but I did find this article about him if anyone is interested in the man behind the race. As this run is done in Memory of Bob it seems fitting that all of the proceeds of the race go to the charity North East Promenaders Against Cancer so not only do you get to run you also get to help in your own little way in the fight against cancer – win, win in my opinion 🙂 .

Event Statistics.

For those that are interested in the race stats these were listed as follows:

  • Event Provider: North Shields Polytechnic Club.
  • Race Type: Trail run (along a coastal path and through Holywell Dene).
  • Distance: 12.87 km / 8 miles.
  • Climb: No info available but I originally assumed before the race that it was undulating.

Map below taken from my Garmin at the end of the race.

The race.

I got to the race registration point, NSPC Club HQ by the track in Churchill Playing Fields, about 10 minutes before the registration closed.  This gave me just enough time to apply my number, make a toilet stop and then make my way to the start line.  Now for those that may be planning on tackling this run next year the race actually starts 10 minutes walk away at the War Memorial next to Spanish City in Whitley Bay so allow some time for this.

Registration and finish area at North Shields Poly HQ.

The start point was quite busy and after a short safety briefing, from a North Shields Poly official, an official from North East Promenaders Against Cancer took the time to thank us for helping to raise money and that our efforts were really helping fight cancer – she of course got a round of applause from us runners for her speech and efforts.  We near enough got started on time at 10.30 am, apart from a small wait for a few stragglers.

The start area, at the War Memorial, next to The Spanish City.

I have broken the race down into 3 logical sections:

Section 1 – The run along the coast.

This section was 3.2 miles in length and ran directly along the coast with the sea to the right.  The first 0.9 miles is run mainly along the paths next to or on the promenade before being directed onto the fields of Whitley Bay Mini Golf Course.  The field was approx. 0.4 miles and quite muddy in sections which I should have taken as an indicator of the mud to come.

At the end of the field we were directed right back down onto the promenade where we made our way to St Mary’s Lighthouse (approx. another 0.4 miles).  I managed to pass a couple of runners on this section as the field started to thin out.  Once at St Mary’s Lighthouse we were directed across the road to the first ‘trail’ part of the run which lasted about 1.25 miles running along the cliff tops.

Cliff top view on section 1 after St Mary’s Lighthouse. Image taken from Google Street View.

The last 0.25 miles took us back onto the road leading to section 2.

Section 2 – Into Holywell Dene we go.

The start of this section took us down the bank to the river where we entered Holywell Dene by passing underneath the bridge.   As I didn’t know the route and hadn’t been along Holywell Dene before I was relying on a mixture of the race marshals and following the runners in front of me to keep me right.  However the issue with this approach is that if the runner in front goes the wrong way then you also do.

This is exactly what happened as me and the runner just in front of me ended up going over the bridge to the right hand side of the river rather than stopping on the left hand side.  The runner in front of me did appear to ask the race marshal, next to the bridge, which way to go and the marshal seemed to indicate to go right which is why he went right and I obviously followed. It wasn’t until we got past the bridge that we saw some people, who were taking photos, on the other side of the river telling us we were going the wrong way.

The start of section 2. Going down to the riverside to take us into Holywell Dene. Image from Google street view.

After quickly doubling back across the bridge we were soon back on our way and even though we only lost about 30 secs or so another 6 runners passed us.  Now I know that this was a run and not a race but I still wanted to finish as close to the race winner as possible so this was minor set back.

Image just after we got back onto the ‘correct’ side of the river.
Image from NSPC Facebook page – used with the kind permission from Jason Stirland .

I have to admit that I loved this section of the run as it is totally off road, lots of trees and fields and most importantly lots of muddy trails which is what I prefer. I have never been to Holywell Dene before so I was quite surprised at how isolated it felt considering how close it is to built up areas such as Whitley Bay. What also surprised me was how muddy it was and if I had of known this then I would have maybe went with different shoes with better grip.  The muddy tracks continued for about 3.3 miles and apart from a few little ups and downs it is relativity flat which surprised me as I assumed Holywell Dene would be hillier.

Anyways, after the initial set back of losing 6 places I did manage to gain back a couple of places about a mile into this section however these were quickly lost again about a mile later when a male and a female runner, who had steadily made their way through the field passed me.  I decided to try and keep with them if I could.

Section 3 – The finishing stretch.

At about the 6.5 mile mark we finally saw some sign of civilisation as the wooded view of Holywell Dene gave way to a housing estate on either side of the muddy track.  I assumed we were coming up to the finish because of the distance on my Garmin however this seemed to be confirmed by the male runner who had passed me in the last couple of miles who suddenly took off at a hell of a pace where he must of passed about 5 runners in about 30 to 40 metres.  I was quite impressed by this but unfortunately I was not able to be quite as quick or as impressive.

Instead I aimed my sights on the female runner who was still just ahead of me. I had read that the finish line was about 300 meters or so around the track at the HQ so I thought that if I could keep close enough to the her then I might be able to pass her and maybe the other runner I saw just ahead of her. The left u-turn into the track was quite tight and slippy and I nearly paid for this as I slipped going through the gate but managed to save some dignity by grabbing the fence to save myself.

The tight entrance back to the track and finish line.

Once I got onto the track I managed to put in a bit extra effort and I was just able to pass the female runner on the finishing straight just before the line however just fell short of catching anyone else.

The finish area on the far side of the track.

After catching my breath and shaking the hands of the 2 runners in front of me and behind me I made my way to the registration area and was pleasantly surprised to be given a goody bag.  Now everyone likes surprises, especially when they are running related, so I was pretty happy to receive a new water bottle and pair of socks – happy days 🙂 .

Me at the end, trying to catch my breath, just after collecting my ‘goody’ bag.
New bottle and socks from the ‘goody’ bag.
It was muddier than I thought it would be 🙂

How did I do?

I completed the course in 54 minutes and 05 secs.  I do not know my exact placing as this was labelled as “a run, not a race and there will be no timekeepers and no results”. However regardless of placing my time was roughly what I expected so I was quite pleased with it especially as I felt a little tired and sick around the 4.5 mile section (probably something to do with Friday’s unwanted drinking session).

My Garmin recorded the race stats as per the following:

Profile Graph (Elevation in feet, Distance in miles):

Race results and images.

There are no results due to this being a run rather than a race however the following report posted on Facebook stated:

This mornings Run for Bob produced a record number of entrants – 155, and record money raised of £1,453.10.
The first Male home was Jon French for Blyth Harriers.
The first Female home was Rachelle Falloon from Alnwick Harriers.

I don’t believe that there are any official photos however there are lots of photos that have been uploaded to the North Shields Poly Facebook page.

What did I learn from this race?

Do not drink too much alcohol close to a race. 🙂

How would I rate this race?

Category Score Comments
Overall score 4/5 I really enjoyed the run especially the off road part through Hollywell Dene (section 2).
Would you do it again? 5/5 Yes, its a good race.
Course 4/5 I enjoyed the course.  The first section along the coast has some great views however my favourite part was definately the muddy run through Holywell Dene (section 2) which felt quite isolated from civilisation.
PB potential 3.5/5 If you are wearing the correct trainers to deal with the muddy sections of the course I can see no reason why a PB cannot be achieved as the course was surprisingly flatter than I assumed it would be.
Atmosphere 5/5 The atmosphere was excellent and I couldn’t believe how noisy the registration point was due to all of the talking amongst the runners.
Organisation 5/5 Overall the organisation was excellent and NSPC should be proud of the event they have put on. There were also Coffee, tea and cakes on at the end which is a welcome bonus.
Value for money 5/5 At only £8 entry (£1 per mile) this is excellent value especially when you factor in that we got a goody bag at the end with socks and a drinks bottle in it. (Entry is on the day only).
Beginner-friendliness 4.5/5 Very well suited for beginners as there were plenty of race officials and the course is quite flat(ish).

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