The Pier to Pier Race made a welcome return this weekend after 2 years of Covid postponement. The race is a popular and longstanding event in the North East running calendar efficiently organised by Sunderland Strollers and was sold out well in advance.

The  approximately 7 mile route is one on the most scenic and best local runs. Starting from South Shields beach the route follows the coast  south along the Leas, seaward of the lighthouse at Souter and finally ends on the beach by Roker pier (Bus transport  is laid on from the finish to the start for runners parking by the finish).

Having rubbed on the sun screen (on Rob’s advice) in anticipation of good weather the contingent of eight JJ’s we were met with grey clouds and light rain as they approached the coast. Happily, the shower passed quickly before the start at South Shields beach.  A large throng of runners assembled in readiness by the loos on the sea front for pre race photos and warm ups.   As usual the race coincided with a low tide and runners lined up behind a wide start line across the full width of the beach ready for the start at 10.00

The race started fast and furious across the broad wet sandy beach.  There were shades of “Chariots of Fire”  with runners pounding towards the cliff at the southern end. Runners then negotiated a tricky steep upward section exiting the beach to the grassy clifftop and then onto the paths towards Marsden Grotto and the lighthouse at Souter. As the race  hotted up the sun shone down and runners found their pace.

Skylarks sang overhead as we passed Souter Lighthouse and water station.  The route then snaked past Latimers Fish Shop at Whitburn and on towards Seaburn and Roker. We passed along the seafront promenade, down some steps to the wide beach. At this point the finish is in sight at last but frustratingly still some distance away.  Poseidon again waved his trident approvingly as runners pounded across the wet sand to the flags of the finishing funnel by the pier.

All eight JJ’s finished strongly.  Cliff Veitch was the first JJ across the line in 48.34 followed closely by Simon Wells and Geoff Blair. Beth Deutsch was the first female JJ across the line in 55.49 leading Kate Black. Rob Dooley paced his race nicely as part of his Edinburgh race training (good luck Rob!) followed by David Newman. Martyn Collins closed the book in a great time of 1.06.

The Pier to Pier is always a tough run, undulating  with a mix of surfaces- sand ,tarmac and trail. It is not a race for “bouncy shoes”. As ever the runner’s efforts were rewarded with one of the best goody bags of any local run: crisps, chocolate, water, coasters, a race t shirt and best of all: cans of beautifully chilled local Vaux  “Pier Bier” a well-earned reward for a good effort.

Final positions and chip times:

83   Cliff Veitch  (MV50)        0:48:34

152  Simon Wells (MV50)      0:52:44

201  Geoff Blair (MV60)         0:54:39

237  Beth Deutsch (Senior)    0:55:49

355   Kate Black (FV50)          0:58:49

408  Rob Dooley (MV40)        1:00:19

526  David Newman (MV60)  1:03:48

607  Martyn Collins (MV50)   1:06:10

Cliff Veitch 16/5/22