ELITE athletes and fun runners alike brought Newcastle city centre to a standstill yesterday for the 33rd Blaydon Road Race.
The sun shone for the immensely popular annual race, which has become an iconic event on the region’s calendar.
The course is inspired by Geordie Ridley’s classic song, the Blaydon Races, which rang out on the streets in the minutes before the start.
Entertainment included the usual tradition of can-can girls, whilst St Nicholas’ Cathedral chimes joined in with the Blaydon Bell to mark the start of the race.
The race attracts runners of all ages and abilities, with many returning year after year.
Hannah Alderton, 45, from Kenton, Newcastle, said: “This is my third Blaydon Race and I love taking part and seeing so many people turn out to support it.
“The weather turned out really well, which is a big improvement on last year when we had torrential rain to contend with. I think everyone from the North East should do the Blaydon Race at least once, because it’s a great day out and you’ll meet lots of friendly people.”
John Stephenson, 57, from Low Fell, Gateshead, said: “I’ve been a member of a running club since 2007 and this is my fifth Blaydon Race.
“I keep coming back to it, because it’s such a fantastic event. Later in the year, I’ll also be doing the coastal race and my third Kielder Marathon.”
Graham Harrison, 49, from Gateshead, was completing his 15th Blaydon Race. The health club business manager said: “I’ve been running for the last 30 years and am a member of Saltwell Running Club.
“I like to do the Blaydon Race because the atmosphere is fantastic all along the way, from start to finish. I wouldn’t want to miss it.”
There were also a number of first-timers who couldn’t wait to get across the start line.
Alastair Williams, 48, from Ryton, Gateshead, said: “This is my first Blaydon Race, but seeing everyone here has made me realise I should have done it before now. I wasn’t expecting the atmosphere to be this good. I will definitely be doing it again.”
The route took the 4,000 runners from Balmbras in Newcastle city centre, down Collingwood Street and along the Scotswood Road past Armstrong’s factory, ending at Shibdon Road playing fields in Blaydon, Gateshead.
The race charity for 2013 is Heel and Toe Children’s Charity, which offers free, conductive education therapy to children with cerebral palsy, dyspraxia and other motor disorders across the North East.
For further information on the charity’s work, visit their website www.heelandtoe.org.uk or call 0191 386 8606.