Everything You Need to Know about the Blaydon Race 2023
This Friday runners will be gannin' alang the Scotswood Road once again for the 41st Blaydon Race
Friday 9th June 2023 marks the 41st staging of the North East’s most iconic road race, The Blaydon Race. A super fast 6-mile race from Newcastle City Centre to Blaydon Town, the race has grown from 250 entries in 1981 to 4,500, and is the North East’s premier and largest club race, organised entirely by volunteers from Blaydon Harriers and Athletics Club. The much-needed funds raised from the race are shared with chosen fellow charity partners and used to further support the club in promoting participation in local athletics, physical activity and wellbeing.
With welcome support from this year’s main sponsor Start Fitness, one of the biggest independent sports retailers in Europe, as well as a raft of other race partners including Metro Radio, Cash for Kids, First Mortgage, Hadrian’s Border Brewery, Pink Lane Bakery, Synergi, Tarmac, Parkers Executive Chauffeurs and Team Valley Group, the Blaydon Race team, made up of nearly 200 volunteers, are working hard behind the scenes for this year’s race.
With the start of the race moving to the iconic Newcastle Quayside, they’ve worked hard to offer runners, supporters and spectators a great race experience, adding to Newcastle’s civic pride and the region’s proud sporting heritage. Starting in the shadow of the Tyne Bridge at 7.15pm, a number of invited guests will be there to support its start and send the 4,500 runners on their way, including Lord Mayor of Newcastle, Councillor Veronica Dunn.
A new addition to the race’s Start Countdown will see world renowned opera singer and local Consett-born lad, Graeme Danby, lead the crowd in a rendition of George Ridley’s iconic folk song. This promises to create a unique and special atmosphere on the Quayside and offer a fitting curtain raiser to the race. ‘I’m delighted to return to the North East for such a prestigious event and wish all taking part every success,’ says Graeme.
They are also delighted to welcome local lass and former Lioness and England Goalkeeper Carly Telford back to Newcastle to ensure that the Blaydon Race Bell is in the safest of hands to start the race and send the runners on their way. Carly says: ‘I’m delighted and privileged to be invited and involved in the start of this year’s Blaydon Race. As a local lass I’m especially proud of the opportunity to cheer on and support fellow athletes. It has to be up there as one of the most iconic Geordie things to be part of!’
The first Blaydon horse races were held in 1861 on a circular island in the Tyne called Blaydon Island. Due to the event’s huge success, the organisers decided to hold the event again the following year on the 9th of June. The well-known Geordie folk song, The Blaydon Races, was written by Gateshead-born Geordie Ridley. It chronicled an eventful coach ride from Newcastle, across the Tyne to the Blaydon Races on the 9th June 1862. First performed at Balmbra’s in the Cloth Market, the folk song has become an unofficial anthem of Tyneside and is frequently sung by supporters of Newcastle United and Newcastle Falcons.
The horse meetings continued until 1865 and later revived in 1887, but due to improvements to the River Tyne, Blaydon Island had been removed and the track was moved to Stella Haughs. They continued annually, but due to a decline in popularity and civil disorder caused by alleged horse race rigging, the last Blaydon horse races took place in 1916.
Evolving from a historic horse race to a modern road race, Jim Dewar of Blaydon Harriers came up with the idea for the running race and it has gone from strength to strength since 1981. Taking place on the 9th June, it follows the route that the racegoers took in the 1862 Geordie Ridley song. Last year, the start of the race was relocated to the iconic Newcastle Quayside under the Tyne Bridge, reinforcing and reconnecting the race’s heritage with both the city and the region.