Wednesday, 14 May 2014

The first Newcastle to Blaydon road race

As regular readers of this blog will know, my aim following my recent tribulations is to get some sort of fitness back for this years Blaydon Race on 9th June.

Those who have been reading my blog for some time will also know that I have posted about the traditions behind the race and how the route follows as near as possible the route described in Geordie Ridley's song of 1862.

The Blaydon Race in its current format is organised by Blaydon Harriers and has been running (excuse the pun) since 1981. However, how many people know that the first Newcastle to Blaydon road race was held over a 5 mile course as part of The Blaydon Race centenary celebrations in 1962.

As a 5 year old at the time I must admit to not remembering the road race to well, but I do have vivid memories of standing outside The Ord Arms pub on a packed Scotswood Road just before you reached Scotswood Bridge, watching the parade and floats go past enroute to Blaydon.

The race in 1962 had 99 competitors and was won by Tommy Elliott of Gateshead Harriers in a time of 29.41.  Footage of the race can be seen as part of a film of the celebrations here If you are only interested in the race rather than watch the full 40 minutes or so then footage can be found between 4.05 and 5.38 minutes, 6.48 to 7.37 and 10.12 to 11.00.  There is some charmingly dated commentary to go along with the film such as the comments regarding Tommy Elliott's winning time, where the narrator comments on whether the time means anything to the watcher but going on to say " it seems to be generally considered to be a pretty good effort."

Another interesting aspect of the film is the size of the crowds at the finish, with the runners only having enough room to squeeze themselves across the line.

There was also an athletics meeting held at the Municipal Stadium in Newcastle which featured races of up to 2 miles footage of which can be seen between 23.07 minutes and 24.28 on the film.

For those interested in other sports there was also a cycling race and rowing races.

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