The Blackpool coastline in February was never going to host anything other than a fairly breezy race, but the 25th Great North West Half on Blackpool seafront this year was something else.
The flat, fast two lap course started off from opposite the Hilton hotel, where the Runners’ World pacers bravely lined up with their flags as the commentator sent us on our way with some good old Northern cheer. For the first three miles, all was blissful, until we turned back into what can only be described as a ridiculous headwind. The flat, well-marshalled route took us back along the seafront towards Blackpool Tower, before we turned back and picked up the glorious tailwind again.
One more lap of this pleasant course, and we arrived at the finish, to rapturous applause, a pretty medal, and most importantly, plenty of snacks in the goody bag. The race used the nearby Hilton Hotel as Race HQ, which provided plentiful loos, speedy number collection for those who had entered online, a bag drop (not secure but it was still pretty helpful!) and most importantly, a supply of cheap, piping hot tea to help defrost chilly hands after the race.
On what certainly wasn’t a PB day, the course still produced fast times, with the male winner romping home in 1:14 and the first lady flying through in 1:25- for those out for a PB, tactical teamwork in a pack helped all on their way to faster times, and for those out for a good experience, who can beat running along the Promenade, alongside the famous Blackpool Illuminations? The course saw many runners turn out to try their first half-marathon (somewhat bravely) and they were really well-supported, with a range of Runners’ World pacers there to support them to finish times ranging from 1:30 all the way to 2:30.
To say the conditions are never ideal in Blackpool, this race is eternally well-loved by locals and club runners from further afield, and for the reasonable price of £20 for an entry, is a good deal for a flat, chip-timed half and a hefty dose of nostalgia!