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Blaydon Race

“Always on the 9th June” is the tag line of the Blaydon Race, in homage to the lyrics of the famous Geordie folk song which the race takes its name from. The road race itself was first ran in 1981 and the route mirrors the words of the song, setting off from Balmbra’s before heading along Collingwood Street on the way to Blaydon.

The Blaydon Race could in all fairness lay claim to being the North East’s second most popular race with entries closing within hours of their release for the last few years. Thankfully I was organised enough to bag a spot at 6am on release day before sneaking back to bed for an hour.

Having run the race in 2013 and 2014 I knew what to expect this time round, and knew that I would have to get some miles in even though in the scheme of it 5.7 miles isn’t the furthest run.

One problem with this was the worsening of my achilles tendonitis which in turn caused a subtle involuntary change in my running action, which in turn led to patella tendonitis in my opposite knee. I decided to try and rest it as long as I could and stopped running totally from the end of January until early April, leaving myself six weeks to get in to shape.

In my wisdom I failed to adjust my already questionable diet during my 10 week layoff which in hindsight wasn’t the best.

With this in mind I decided to try something a little different in the run up to BR2015. With the best will in the world I am never going to be a salad and granola kind of person. Whilst discussing this with a fellow runner he suggested trying Quorn as an alternative. Being a big fan of ‘the meat’ I was initially reluctant arguing “it isn’t the same” and “it doesn’t taste right”. After some gentle persuasion I decided to give it a go, even if it was just to prove my point.

With this in mind I took myself over to www.quorn.co.uk firstly to find out what it actually was, and secondly what kind of food I could try. I am no scientist so the finer details were sidestepped in favour of looking at what I could have for tea. The first thing that jumped out at me was Quorn sausages. Coupled with an unusually fair April evening I fired up the barbecue and alongside the rest of the meat (small steps!) I threw on four Quorn meat-free Cumberland sausages. Thankfully I didn’t blacken them and was able to identify them from the rest of the meat. I must confess to being reticent when taking my first bite but was pleasantly surprised not only at the taste but at the texture as well. It felt like eating a sausage, which is key when you are eating a sausage.

After the success of the initial test, I decided to step things up a bit and made myself a chilli con carne using Quorn mince as opposed to traditional beef mince. This was again a very simple process and due to the spice in the dish it was almost indistinguishable from a chilli beef con carne. The next time I made this I substituted the rice for a ‘paleo’ version of cauliflower rice, and the dish was such a success that the missus confessed she preferred it to the original. The selling point for me was this dish was less than half the calories of chilli beef con carne and rice, helping me lose some of the beef (pun intended) that I hoped to pre race.

Whilst looking in to things further I found that Mo Farah was a big fan of Quorn too, and he knows a thing or two about training and running. I made a point of preparing two or three Quorn dishes a week. I’ll be honest, there were a couple of disasters but I think that was more down to my cooking than anything else. The success stories range from sausage casserole to chilli con carne and homemade burgers to meatball kebabs (my personal favourite).

I went in to the race feeling in pretty good shape after my dietary revolution and was confident of a good run. Unfortunately it was a case of best laid plans becoming undone as my run was hampered by starting too far at the back of the field leading to a slow start, a exceptionally hot summers evening and a tight thigh muscle striking me four miles in. I was two minutes slower than the previous year but still finished in a respectable 51 minutes and 40 seconds with an average pace of 8:59 per mile.

The Quorn revolution has continued since and will certainly form part of my diet and training regime ahead of the big one, the fast approaching Great North Run 2015.

About James Williams

Describing myself as a ‘runner’ doesn’t sound natural, but a quick check of Nike+ suggests that having ran more than 100 miles since May I may well actually be a ‘so-called runner’.

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