"Very disappointing" - Local runners furious as historic Blaydon Race changes entry process

Blaydon Race 2023: Which roads in Newcastle and Gateshead are closed for the event?. (Photo by Ian Forsyth/Getty Images)Blaydon Race 2023: Which roads in Newcastle and Gateshead are closed for the event?. (Photo by Ian Forsyth/Getty Images)
Blaydon Race 2023: Which roads in Newcastle and Gateshead are closed for the event?. (Photo by Ian Forsyth/Getty Images)

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The annual race is traditionally the largest club race in the UK, but new changes have left some runners unimpressed.

We all know the Blaydon Race as a route and a song, but for many local running enthusiasts the 'ninth of June' remains a major date in the calendar.

The Blaydon Race, which began in 1981, is a race of just under six miles and now takes participants from the Quayside along Scotswood Road and into Blaydon after the initial starting position at the city Centre Bigg Market was moved.

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This year has marked a major change for how runners sign up to the event and it has left plenty of local participants frustrated. After years of places being allocated on a 'first come first served' basis which has seen the race sell out in less than 24 in previous years, organisers have replaced the system with a ballot, much like the Great North Run.

In a statement released by race organisers on Tuesday, January 9, the plans were announced, saying: "Say goodbye to the mad dash and stressful queues! We're introducing a ballot system this year, levelling the playing field for everyone. No more timing your online presence just right. You've got over a week to snag your spot hassle-free.

With 4,700 spots up for grabs, it's a 50/50 split between UKA Affiliated and Unaffiliated runners. And this year your entry covers pre and post-race buses too!

You've got until Saturday 17th February to throw your hat in the ring. Successful runners will receive an email to pay and secure their spot by Friday 23rd February, while those who haven't paid up might see their chance passed on to others. The race is on!"

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Fans of the race were not pleased by the change, with plenty taking to social media to express their disappointment.

One said "Doubt I'll get a spot. When it goes to a ballot you get many more speculative entries "just in case" There were places available hours after entries opened this year after the initial rush."

Another added: "Very disappointing to be honest - part of the fun of the Blaydon race is for huge turnouts by local running clubs who often include the race in their internal club championships and as a social. Changing to a ballot system means a lot of people at clubs will miss out."

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"My streak of doing them all since 1997 might be over then" said another.

However, it wasn't all negativity for the race, which has traditionally tailored itself to runners who are paid members of running clubs rather than those without official clubs, known as 'unaffiliated' runners.

One such potential participant commented: "As a non affiliated runner, who is also a Blaydoner. Thank you so much for opening this up for runners who are just as committed to their running as affiliated runners. A much fairer system."

The 2024 Blaydon Race will start at 6:15pm on Sunday, June 9.

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