Near perfect conditions for this time of year made the Norman Woodcock Memorial Race possible to take place which was a great relief for the organisers and marshals. The late start time of 2pm meant a nice sleep-in for the runners and organisers but come 2pm the runners and new course were ready.
The new course consisted of 3 laps of the path on the inside of the Gosforth Racecourse. The traffic free course was a big hit with the runners and made for a much easier race to run in. The race itself was run by 180 runners. The men's race was won by Morpeth Harrier Nick McCormick in a time of 23.48 minutes. Followed by Phil Hurst of Elswick Harriers in a time of 24.14 minutes. The women's race was won by Angela Hibbs of Chester Le Street in a time of 28.56mins and a new 5 mile pb of 56 seconds. Second women was Rachel Howarth of Leigh Harriers in a time of 29.21 minutes. A Jenkins of Morpeth Harriers was the first veteran over 50 home in a great time of 29.46 minutes and 30th place overall, Morpeth Harriers were the successful men's team with Wallsend taking the women's team prize. Full results can be found on the Elswick Harriers website.
One runner told www.northernrunningguide.com: "Not having to worry about cars sneaking up behind you and squeezing past on the road while you try to run flat out and try to pass some back marks was, in the past, not ideal. But the new course, undulating and all on tarmac paths, proved a much more sensible route for the race."
The canteen at the finish with warm snacks and drinks was a lovely haven for the runners after the race and with the good parking facilities and well marshalled course (with marshals standing with cones by the odd pothole that was on the paths on the racing route to warn the runners) this is definitely a race that I look to put in my racing diary every year. It may even be the same race route next year!