Description of the Race
The 1862 Blaydon Races Song is the National Anthem of Tyneside. The words of the song are used as a basis for everything in the race where possible. For example the event takes place every “Ninth of June” in accord with the song’s first line:- “Aa went to Blaydon Races t’was on the Ninth of June”
The runners assemble at the public house “Balmbras” in central Newcastle (just as the travellers to see the Blaydon Horse races did in 1862) and are started on their run with the actual handbell mentioned in the song, which is brought out specially, under guard, from The Discovery Museum, Newcastle and “away they gan alang Collingwood Street” on their way to Scotswood Road and Scotswood Bridge to finish in Blaydon itself . The race itself has been instrumental in maintaining interest in local traditions in general and in the Blaydon Races song in particular. The large crowd in Blaydon Shopping Precinct car park welcomes the runners who receive local food and beer and the all important tee-shirt along with their goody bags and certificate. Not all of the tired finishers are tempted by the black pudding, tripe and pickled onions always on offer! The race welcomes all over 16 years and even provides the Kiddars’ Fun Run at Blaydon before the senior race for 9 to 16 year-old local schoolchildren.
The Road Race has been organised annually by Blaydon H & AC since 9th June 1981 and seeks to incorporate much local tradition in an annual run for all, to include top-rank athletes and humble joggers all “Gannin Alang the Scotswood Road”. From just 212 competitors in the inaugural Race the field has grown to 4400 runners who tackle the 5.6 mile course between Newcastle and Blaydon.
The list of winners (Lads and Lasses) is a Who’s Who of Regional Athletics with some of the country’s finest athletes keen to compete for the impressive prizes. Good competition for local top-liners from around the UK and abroad means that Blaydon record times are always under threat.
The ’King’ and ‘Queen’ of Scotswood Road
Olympic silver medalist Mike McLeod is undoubtedly the greatest with seven wins including three consecutive victories as a Gadgie (Veteran) in 1992-94. The four wins by Blaydon’s own Olympian Jill Hunter in 1985-88 outstrip her rivals.
Kenyan Patrick Makau set the ‘old’ Lads’ course record in 2006 at 26mins 13sec with Russian Yelena Burykina bringing the Lasses’ mark down to 29min 18sec in 2003.
Music and Dance
The ritual singing of the song takes place at the start every year and the Hazel Rayson Dance Troupe perform the Can-Can at the start as well as travelling to the Finish. The unique atmosphere at the start continues during the course of the race and is frequently mentioned by the runners