Pier to Pier – 19th May 2024

by Amanda Taylor

6.20am alarm and I did not like that one bit but it had to be done, as the organisers of this year’s P2P had decided the race would start at 9am rather than the usual 10.

A 45 minute drive through to Roker, a bus up to Shields, where I sat next to a lad from York who’d chosen to stay in a sea front hotel ahead of the race, hoping to wake up to sunshine over the sea but what he was met with on opening his curtains was a “grey wall”. That pretty much described the weather on the coast that morning but I was thankful for it. Had it been as warm and sunny as the previous day, I’d have suffered terribly as I’m most definitely not a warm weather runner.

Bumped into Gayle and Simon, had a chat and a photo with them then we saw Lord and Lady Smythe so of course we had to get another shot to include Paul who, despite having his arm in a sling, was running his race in memory of a dear friend who he’d sadly lost just that week.

Over 1400 runners gathered close to the pier at Shields to run the distance of roughly 11k, many with a view, no doubt, to being first person off the beach since there was a prize for doing just that. The beach stretch was around about a mile I think but it wasn’t easy going, not just because of the terrain but because there was a bit of a wild stampede at the start.

The race moved off the beach up to The Leas where it was a bit bottle-necky in a couple of places but there was a few different routes you could take as long as you didn’t use the road or footpath, so it was pretty much trail all the way along past Marsden Rock and Souter Lighthouse where we hit the coastal path down towards Sunderland.

I think it was round about 5.25 mile in when we came down onto the concrete prom which was hard and horrible and seemed endless so I was actually thankful to get back onto the beach where the tide had started to come in. A splash through the sea was a welcome relief for the feet but boy did it make the last 400 metres or so a slog towards the finish near Roker pier.

On a brighter day and, if you could get your head up for a look round, it is a beautifully scenic route but the sea fret was in and I had to concentrate on my footing so I didn’t really see much this time, only the heels of the lass who was a second in front of me. I chatted to her while we were waiting to collect our goody bags at the end and while she was a non-club runner she was only 41 – I have to take these little wins!

Last time I ran this race was in 2019, when Sharron Trevor and I chatted the whole way round and did it in about 1 hour 15 mins and the time before that was in 2015, where I remember going eyeballs out but it still took me 1:05:40 so this time I had in my head that I’d be happy to come in under the hour so I was thrilled with my time of 57:01 and 13th/235 FV50.

Speaking of little wins, Wendy Chapman of Sunderland Strollers who got 1st female at Cockfield Chase Fell Race last month ran P2P in 59.10 so that was another one I felt I’d ‘won’ and back at P2P Jackie ‘The Hair’ Murdy of South Shields Harriers stormed home for 1st FV50 in an incredible time of 46:55, 10 minutes ahead of me…..I’m really not sure I have that much more left in me…..but, in case I didn’t mention it already, I did beat Jackie by 0.4 of a second in the 100m sprint at Monkton the other night so…..LITTLE WINS!

At £35 this race is a bit more expensive than most others of a similar distance but we did receive The Mother of all goody bags containing a technical t-shirt, a wooden pier to pier wireless phone charger/stand, a large steel flask, a pen, energy gummies, beer and a little glass lighthouse tile which I love. A great race, very well organised and something just a bit different.

Simon Pickering: 143rd 49:58
Amanda Taylor: 351st 57:01
Paul Smith: 909th 1:09:38
Gayle Askwith: 964th 1:10:54