Sunday, 8 November 2009

The first "6 Bridges Challenge" complete!

9 am Sunday morning and it was time for my first attempt at what I'm going to call the "6 Bridges Challenge". Earlier in the week I'd made an appeal for some company on the run and I was pleasantly surprised to see 2 former allies sign up to run the 10.5 mile course. Joining me for this run were Chris Cowan (aka Chopper) and Paul Jackson (aka Jacko). Two years ago, these guys helped me get through day 16 of the run from John O'Groats to Lands End. I'm pleased to say that their help today was as greatly appreciated today as it was back then. You can read all about their contribution in 2007 here and here.

We set off from the Millennium Bridge shortly after 9 am in bitterly cold and pouring wet conditions. There weren't many complaints though. As you can see from the map, this run lived up to it's name and involved crossing the Tyne 6 times! The first crossing was the Millennium Bridge. Next up was the short climb up Bottle Bank and over the Tyne Bridge. There was a lot of standing water on the bridge and Jacko played his part by running on the outside and taking the majority of it. After the Tyne Bridge we were soon on our way down Dean Street and over the Swing Bridge. After that, it was a case of climbing up Bottle Bank again. This time we swung a right around the Hilton and over the High Level Bridge.

The High Level Bridge afforded us a few minutes in the dry after which we turned left and ran past Central Station and onto the Redheugh Bridge. This was bridge number 5 and mile number 3.

The next 3.5 miles took us through Dunston, past the Metrocentre and onto the 6th and final Bridge; The Scotswood Bridge. The banter was in full flow by this point and it really helped make the miles go by.

Thankfully the rain stopped by the time we reached the Quayside Market and me and the lads reached the finish point after 10.5 easy 10ish minute miles. To be precise, we finished the 1st ever "6 Bridges Challenge" in 01:45:14. Moreover, and without wanting to sound at all patronising, considering that Jacko and Chopper hadn't done any serious middle distance running recently they did remarkably well to get round while looking quite fresh at theend. They certainly did as much talking as putting one foot in front of the other and the banter was top class all of the way round.

All in all I was very pleased with today's run and more importantly the route itself. There aren't too many tricky bits to contend with. As ever on a run, though, you've got to be mindful of the traffic. The only real section to take great care on is passing over the railway line near the Scotswood Bridge. It's a case of looking left, right, left, right, left, right then crossing. Oh and one last look before you go.

Being a Geordie, I find the scenery of this route quite something to behold. The Quayside has undergone quite a transformation over recent years and it's a joy to take in the 6 bridges, the Sage Gateshead and the Baltic in 1 run.

I'll be having another crack at this route next Sunday morning, leaving the Millennium Bridge at 9am and throw open the invite to anyone out there who would like to join me. At the time of writing, a few have already signed up to try the route including Mike Lewis who I've ran a few longer runs with this year.

I've now ran 91 miles over the last 8 days including, of course, that epic 37 mile run from Shotley Bridge to Blyth. The majority of my skeleton feels like I've just ran 10 miles though. This is yet another positive sign as to the progress that has been made over the last 12 months.

I'm absolutely raring to go in this week 54. I'll be looking to get at least 50 miles done as well as 2 sessions in the gym with Mark Fleming and perhaps a couple of Spinning classes if time permits. Thanks to Jacko and Chopper for helping me get the week off to a great start. The full route can be viewed here.