I started 2006 in the icy streets by the clock tower in Morpeth Northumberland. On several previous such occasions on New Year's Day I have run in the oldest road race in the country - the Morpeth-Newcastle. However, increasing traffic and pressure on police resources from drunken revellers sadly make it look as though the 100th edition in 2004 may have been the last. (New Year's Day was a public holiday in Northumberland long before the Sassenachs adopted the Scottish custom). As a low-key alternative race Morpeth Harriers now organise a road 11K round one of their regular training loops which I entered in an attempt to be the first Harrier to race in 2006.
My Bedford Harriers vest attracted several comments about being a long way from home. I hope these referred to 250 miles of A1 and not my progress in the race. In fact the finish was closer than expected as the course had to be shortened (to about 6 miles) because of the ice remaining on part of the course. However, I felt I had a good run but my 39-03 was some 8 full minutes behind the leaders and gave me 34th place (well down the field of 100 or so starters). Les Atkinson won the V50 award with an excellent 32 minute effort (nearly 5-minute miling). I only managed 4th place in the small V55 competition.
Morpeth clearly remains a centre of excellence in road running. Names of Alder and Hudspith are engraved in the clubhouse and a pre-Christmas junior race had been won by 15 year-old Marcus Cram. Father Steve was reported to be delighted.
More training needed.