I ran the Blaydon Race for the first time and was amazed by the support along the whole route

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The experience was one our reporter won’t forget for a while!

Having moved to the North East from further afield nearly ten years ago, I felt as though I had been to most events across the region which help me truly understand the region, but one was missing.

After getting into running following university, I ran my first Great North Run in 2023 and, in addition to confirming my place for the 2024 event, I had a smaller, but arguably more historical race in my sights.

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Every June 9, runners from across the North East and beyond line up to take on the route of the famous song, which initially celebrated the route taken to get to the race track on the south side of the Tyne and this year saw over 4,000 runners take on the iconic route “alang the Scotswood Road.”

Blaydon Harriers and Athletics Club line up before the 2024 Blaydon Race.Blaydon Harriers and Athletics Club line up before the 2024 Blaydon Race.
Blaydon Harriers and Athletics Club line up before the 2024 Blaydon Race. | Jason Button

The forecast for the Sunday evening wasn’t great, but luckily any rain had come and gone before the start of the race with plenty of runners avoiding the downpours in Quayside bars.

The best sight of the day came before the race when runners from Blaydon Harrier and Athletics Club, who put on the event each year, line up with a club banner at the front of the first pen and lead runners towards the start line.

Unlike the Great North Run and other events such as the Gateshead half, the race is fully organised by a club rather than a company, making it one of the best known independent and club-run events in the country.

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After a bit of a chaotic start which saw participants rush in and out of the three pens used to keep everyone running with people at the same pace, the skies cleared, everyone sang the famous George "Geordie" Ridley song before the Lord Mayor of Newcastle got all 4,345 runners underway.

The first kilometre or so was incredible as the route brought the Quayside to a halt with the road full of runners heading west and out of the city and as a Blaydon rookie it really felt like you were part of something big for the city, especially with so many families taking time out their evening to line the opening part of the course.

After a quieter period, we reached Scotswood Road and the crowds returned, from live music and DJ sets to kids playing music out their speakers and sticking their hands out for high fives.

On a personal note, I was worried how I would find the race. I had only returned from Edinburgh the previous day after spending hours on my feet over the previous couple of days, but with each high five and each entertainment point any pain left my body and I started to really take in everything the North East event offered - despite a couple of tough inclines at miles two and five.

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Heading over the Scotswood Bridge, the crowds only continued to grow with people heading out their homes to cheer on loved ones, especially with this being the part of Gateshead which is not covered by the Great North Run route.

These only grew as we reached the final stretch on Shibdon Road, which then saw the route head off road and onto nearby playing fields, at which point the horizon opened up to see each side two or three spectators deep, giving each runner a deafening tunnel of noise to finish the route.

Traditionally, the race doesn’t offer medals, with finishers instead being given a t shirt, stottie and specially brewed beer for the occasion, all of which were hugely appreciated after pushing hard on already heavy legs!

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The celebratory special beer at the end of the Blaydon RaceThe celebratory special beer at the end of the Blaydon Race
The celebratory special beer at the end of the Blaydon Race | Jason Button

The route is marked at just under six miles, again offering something different to other events across the region and, with no one able to push for a 10k personal best, it allowed each participant the chance to fully enjoy the event without feeling the need to push hard to get a time in comparison to other races.

With a bit of ballot luck, you’ll see me there once again in 2025!

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