Castles Half Marathon 21st October 2018

Road running is a foreign land

I’ve never understood the point of road races. Sweaty, gurning testosterone fuelled blokes running expensive races around a course designed by highways engineers. There is no fun or interest I have found in this type of running. I’ve tried all the different types. Scenic (Haweswater) the hilly (Raby Castle), the flat (Blyth) and always regretted it. A few years ago the lure of “pb potential” seduced me to run a 10K up a big hill in Prudhoe. Castles Half Marathon had none of those factors I just needed a race.

Four and a half years since I decided the roads were not for me I risked entering a road race for purely selfish reasons. A decent half marathon time would put me above Dave Reay and help secure the Derwentside A.C. male veteran over 40 prize. With John Donneky and Mark Charlton turning 40 next year it could be my last chance.

About the race

Castles Half Marathon is undulating according to the website of race organisers Run Nation. I hoped the undulations would suit me. It starts and finishes at Bamburgh Castle. Graham Marshall recommended the race he ran it a couple of years ago. An early start was needed, and darkness lifted to leave a beautiful Autumn morning near the coast. The car park was already filling up when I arrived, and the signs of a race were evident. Runners warming up, brightly coloured club t-shirts and flags flying made it easy to find the race HQ. I was able to collect my number and check out the course.

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After a slow warm up and a jog up to the castle (can’t resist a hill) the marathon runners set of down the hill and into the village. While waiting for the start I envied the lone jogger on the beautiful sandy beach below. I reminded myself why I was taking part in the race and continued my pre race warmup.

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The race gets underway

The half marathon started on time. We turned into the village and straight up a hill, things were looking up. I felt I started strongly and quickly realised most of the field had already fallen away. At the 10k point I was in 3rd place and dreaming of an unlikely podium place. The second half of the race was more of a struggle as I willed myself to reach and pass each mile marker and keep up with the escaping leaders. Passing the 13 mile marker and seeing the finish was a huge relief for tired legs and an exhausted brain. I was able to secure the time I needed for the club competition. An unexpected bonus of a 5th place finish and reducing my personal best by 7 minutes meant on the day it couldn’t have gone much better.

A return to road racing in the future?

After the race I expected to go back to cross country and fell running over the next few weeks and put road running to the back of my mind until at least 2023. Fate dealt a blow when I won the vet 40 prize. It is a £20 non-transferable voucher redeemable against another road race. Last laugh to the road running gods!

We hope you enjoyed reading about the Castles Half Marathon. Let us know which road race you enjoyed.

Read more posts on our Dreaming of the fells blog page.

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