Monday, September 20, 2010

The World’s Biggest Half-Marathon.

That’s what the Great North Run is billed as, and with 54,000 entrants this year, who am I to argue?

I had a relaxing couple of days before Sunday, plenty of rest and carbo-loading on pasta. But by Saturday morning I was chafing for a bit of hard exercise, so Meg and I took a walk up Beacon Hill.

Summit Trig Point
At 800 feet it’s the second highest point in Leicestershire (beaten by the 900 foot Bardon Hill), and is formed from igneous precambrian sedimentary rock, the outfall from an extinct volcano to the West.

The Old Man of the Beacon

Looking North

On the horizon, just to the right of the cow in the middle distance, you can see two power station cooling towers and a tall chimney.
I couldn’t think of a facility with only a pair of towers in that direction, only Ratcliffe and that has eight. Looking at the OS map solves the problem. The towers at this plant are aligned N-S, and from this distance (9½ miles), only the southern two can be seen.

Some fine sets of horns
Fly Agaric (Amanita muscaria)
We both enjoyed the couple of hours up there, getting the blood pumping and fresh air into the lungs.

It was an early night, in bed for 9 and up at 3, on the road at 4 and arriving at South Shields at around 7:30. We always park near the finish, ready for a quick getaway.

There’s a shuttle bus service runs from here to the start, and I got there at about 9 o’clock.

Looking down at the start. It’s nearly ¾ of a mile long!
It soon filled up with people.
The weather was damp up until start time at 10:40, then it cleared up, staying overcast and cool, good running conditions.

I didn’t get a PB, coming in at 01:46, the 4606th across the line.

I had a bit of a battle for position with this chap in the last mile, but I got there first.

Maybe I’m getting a bit old for this…..

Well, I thought that till I was waiting in line to get my dry kit, and got chatting to a guy behind me. He’s done all 30 GNR’s and at 74 still returned a very respectable 01:52!

Sculpture on the traffic island near Gypsies Green.
The winner of the men’s race was Haile Gebrselassie from Ethiopia, honouring a promise made to Brendan Foster 10 years ago. He came in in 00:59:32, not a record but a great time. The women’s winner was another accomplished Ethiopian, Berhane Adere. Our hope, Mara Yamauchi, came in 5th, behind 3 Portugeuse runners.

We had a bit of an epic drive back, having to detour over to the A1 after an accident closed all three lanes on the M1 near Nottingham.
After 4½ hours we got back to the marina, I had a bit of trouble getting out of the driving seat!

A quick dog walk, shower, meal and bed was the schedule.

I took the car back today, dropping the cratch cover in to be modified at Tops Tarpaulins in Sileby on route. Reg at Redhill couldn’t fit it in till October.
We’ve got tonight in the marina, and then we’re out onto the river again tomorrow.

My Justgiving webpage is still open, so there’s still time to contribute to Cancer Research UK.

Locks 0, miles 0.

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