Blaydon Race 2024 Race Report and Results

By: Brian Jenkins

Race Date: 9th June 2024

Distance: 5.8 Miles

Venue: Newcastle-Upon-Tyne, Tyne and Wear

This race is unapologetically Geordie (and why not), even the e-mailed race instructions (for competitors) begins with the words:

AWAY WE GAN AGAIN Wee heor wu gan agyen. If ya reedin this ye’re one o the select fower thoosan nine hundrd who hev gettin race entries.

It is run by the Blaydon Harrier & Athletics Club, and the route is based on the Geordie anthem “The Blaydon Races” (by George Ridley) a re-telling of a journey from Newcastle to watch a Victorian horse race, which starts:

Aa went to Blaydon Races, ’twas on the ninth of Joon,
Eiteen hundred an’ sixty-two, on a summer’s efternoon;
Aa tyuk the ‘bus frae Balmbra’s, an’ she wis heavy laden,
Away we went ‘lang Collin’wood Street, that’s on the road to Blaydon.

It (the modern race) is a highly popular event, meaning that entry is via a ballot, with competitors coming from all over the country.

The route has been added to since last year with the distance increased to 5.8 miles from the previous 5.4 miles, with the start remaining on Newcastle’s Quayside, on the bank of the River Tyne with the iconic Tyne Bridge looming large in the distance.

The bag drop, however, was in Gateshead, fortunately accessible using the Millenium Bridge over the Tyne. Unfortunately the downpour prior to the race made dropping-off baggage as close to the race start time a very tempting proposition.

Starters were assigned 1 of 3 different colour-coded waves (based on predicted finish times) but the starting pens were closed-off, so all 3 waves were intermingled outside waiting for the pens (with specified areas in the pens for the 3 waves) to be opened. After a rendition of the song the race is named after, the road to the start was opened and racers streamed-in and were shepherded towards the start line and were set off, all 3 waves together, and headed off underneath the Tyne Bridge.

One natural consequence of the lack of enforcement of the 3 waves was that the first mile (some of it through some fairly narrow streets) runners jostled to get past slower runners. All very good if ducking and weaving appeals to your competitive instincts.

The route itself is largely inspired by the lyrics of the song:

Thor wis lots o’ lads an’ lassies there, aal wi’ smiling faces,
Gannin’ alang the Scotswood Road, to see the Blaydon Races.

We headed west and crossed the Tyne over the Scotswood Bridge and into Blaydon:

We flew across the Chain Bridge reet into Blaydon toon,
The bellman he was callin’ there, they call him Jackie Broon;

There are a couple of out-and-back sections, and the route’s final section starts with a section of light trails, with a finish on grass.

Crossing the line, finishers were handed a ham and pease pudding stottie (think of a sandwich, and good Geordie fare) a goodie bag containing a can of official finishers’ beer (lager by the way) and a few other items.

Then it was a case of finding the baggage collection point and then joining the line of runners making their way to the bus stop (a bit of a trek), for the trip back to where the bag drop was originally located (back in Gateshead).

Many aspects of the song were followed quite closely, not just the route and holding it on the “ninth of Joon”. The weather forecast for the day suggested that Mother Nature too was making an effort:

The rain it poor’d aall the day an’ mayed the groons quite muddy,
Coffy Johnny had a white hat on – they war shootin’ “Whe stole the cuddy.”

But fortunately the rain stayed-off for the race itself.

Fortunately the bus journey (back in my case) was uneventful (unlike in the song):

We flew past Airmstrang’s factory, and up to the “Robin Adair”,
Just gannin’ doon te the railway bridge, the ‘bus wheel flew off there.
The lassies lost their crinolines off, an’ the veils that hide their faces,
An’ aw got two black eyes an’ a broken nose gannin’ te Blaydon Races.

All-in-all, a good race, and certainly an experience.

The race was won by Calum Johnson (Gateshead Harriers & AC) in 27:41 and Sonia Samuels (Sale Harriers) in 31:28

Striders’ Results:

Pos Name Category Cat Pos Second Cat Second Cat Pos Net Time
1550 Brian Jenkins V50 126 GADGIES 667 44:30.2
1959 Gerry Rowland SEN 165 48:20.8
3231 Caroline Brash V45 176 DAMES 633 56:23.6


Full Results:

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