Limited to 40 competitors, the run was described as ‘We put you on a bus…We blindfold you…We take you to an unknown location…You have no tech, no map, no watch, no idea where you are…Will you make it back to HQ or be lost for ever? ‘The Drop’
Two options were available 10 miles and 15 miles as the crow flies from the start. The Jesmond Jackals (Mark Adamson, Laura Chapman, Tom Dowling, Jonny Greenwell, Oliver Howell, Joe Inns and Niran Patel) all signed up as a team in the 10 mile event.
With impeccable timing the Jesmond Joggers Christmas Party was scheduled the day before The Drop, ruining plans for a heavy sesh. So it was with heavy hearts that the Jesmond Jackals departed from the festivities at a sensible hour in order to wake up bright eyed and bushy tailed and ready to take on The Drop. The weather took a turn for the worse, with ice, rain and snow all predicted, leading to last minute additions to the mandatory kit each person was expected to carry (full waterproofs, whistle, foil blanket, hat, gloves, insulated layers, water, snacks, torch). No navigational equipment was allowed with all watches, mobiles stashed in sealed bags, only to be opened in an emergency.
Sure enough The Jackals woke to find a heavy frost and snowfall overnight leading to treacherous paths. The Jackals all met at The Cosey Dove in Spital Tongues, Oli was unable to join the team on the day and it was no real surprise that Niran ‘The Flake’ Patel would not be coming either, faking an ankle injury on his way in. The Jackals didn’t really understand what to expect, with details of the race specifically vague. After race number collection the Jackals boarded the bus and donned on their blindfolds with excitement. As the bus departed The Jackals attempted to work out where the bus was headed by feeling the turns and speed of the road. The driver being wise to this tactic, chose a circuitous route through town, circling roundabouts and doubling back, thwarting any attempts to work out where he was headed. It worked! The Jackals we were completely clueless when they arrived at their destination.
Blindfolds were removed and the Jackals exited the bus, and watched their fellow competitors scatter off in all directions. It took a beat until Mark A. exclaimed, ‘it’s the start of The Pie and Peas race we are in Ovington’, and sure enough he was right. Knowing exactly which way to go from there did wonders for The Jackals motivation, and they quickly left their competitors behind, as they headed down the hill, through Ovingham, over the Tyne and along the riverside path through to Wylam and following the Hadrian’s Way cycle path back to Newburn. It was a beautiful route along the Tyne, The Jackals appreciating the crunch of the snow and ice underfoot and the crisp air, giving the event a very festive vibe.
Taking it in turns to push the pace, the Jackals made great progress along the riverside path but being mindful of Jonny ‘Gammy Ankle’ Greenwell, Tom ’Dodgy Shin’ Dowling and Laura ‘Covid Lungs’ Chapman; with only Joe and Mark appearing to be completely injury/illness free.
Past Newburn the route took a less beautiful route, through Lemington, over the A1 and northbound to the West Road, cutting through Cowgate, where delightfully crunchy frozen leaves were replaced with frozen dog sh*t and an uphill struggle. Cutting through Nuns Moor the team arrived back at the Cosey Dove and were genuinely surprised to find out we were the first back and with a comfortable lead of over 30mins on 2nd place. Yay!
The team celebrated their success in the warmth of the Cosey Dove with Cheesy Chips (MarkTM) and some free beer courtesy of the generous barman.
JJ Runadvisor – 5 stars!
1st place – Jesmond Jackals – 1:53:56.