As we drove towards Brampton mist obscured the landscape all the way from Whitley Bay to Gilsland. However once we hit Haltwhistle we emerged into bright sunshine proving that occasionally, ‘West is Best’. Maybe it had been a good idea to get up at 7am after all. At the William Howard School which was race HQ, all was ordered calm as runners from Lancashire, Scotland and the North East arrived to sit about in the warmth for an hour before the race. I can particularly recommend the numerous ladies toilets-can’t vouch for the gents but there seemed to be as many. No queues, even at peak time five minutes before the race start time.
At 11.25 we all spilled onto the road like a giant multi-coloured oil slick. Our chauffeur Jen had decided not to race. She’d loaded up with Halls Soothers and her head and throat felt no better, so decided to drive back to Carlisle and meet us there. There were 11 Poly runners, and there was a feeling that maybe we should think about hiring a minibus next year, as we have in the past.
The locals of Brampton displayed their usual indifference to the race, but there was a small knot of supporters outside the school. We looped round the village then headed west with the smell of hay barns in our nostrils and the excited mooing of cows who clearly didn’t remember the runners from the previous year. Once up a tedious hill at two miles, the route takes you around several villages built of sturdy Cumbrian red stone. There the people are friendlier, though runners do have to share the road with cars. After seven miles the route joins the B6264 once more and from that point it’s a steady run mostly downhill (though there is a last gasp summit at the Near Boot traffic lights to contend with).
I know that fellow Poly runners remark upon my ability to both run and talk at the same time. The reason for this though is that it takes away the pain. If I can find someone who both runs at the same pace and is prepared to put up with my inane utterings, then I am able to eat up the miles almost without thinking. This doesn’t work in shorter races however, as I try to run faster for those. Anyway I was in luck-Gordon from Saltwell Harriers became my transient companion from three miles in until the end. And I also found that HE liked to talk and run, so we discussed work, football, Barcelona, coaching, the treatment for collapsed lungs and how Gordon was one of eight siblings, his mum being still alive at age 84!
So, a good day out for Poly in the Vets’ categories with Greg Penn coming 3rd in his age category, Ian Richardson 3rd in his. My sister, Alison Cummings was 2nd in her age category and I was 2nd in mine. We were 4th Men’s Vets team (Greg Penn, Jason Stirland, Paul Robertson) and 8th Ladies team (Michelle Thompson, Alison Cummings, Jenny Simpson).