At the start of the year the Run Northumberland Half seemed like the ideal target to get me into shape for the start of the running season. Standing on the start line I can’t say that things had gone to plan, my training had been hit and miss and I had managed to actually put weight on rather than get back in shape.
Still here I was with 13.1 miles ahead of me and it felt good to be back on a starting line. Of course the start was delayed and the extra ten minutes standing in a cold 20 mile an hour wind didn’t go down too well with the runners I was with, but having heard dire warnings about the organisation of this event I had been pleasantly surprised by how smoothly things went.
We set off and I weaved my way slowly from towards the back, the wind was awful and the course seemed at times like it was constantly uphill, but I made steady progress and seemed to keep a steady pace of just under the 8 minute mile mark.
Water stations were provided every couple of miles and while the roads were open to the public, the traffic was very light and sat in the middle of a pack of around 800 runners it was pretty obvious that a race was taking place.
At the six mile mark I’d just climbed a big hill and overtaken a lot of people when the road turned and I was running straight into the wind, that seemed to last about two miles, but on the whole I found the strong winds quite refreshing, though I know lots of people didn’t.
At this point I was probably at the highest place in the race and you had views across Northumberland. It’s undoubtably picturesque, but I had my head down and I a not sure that I was sold on that as a reason to do the run (which others had suggested to me). At this point I expected a number of long downhill sections, having climbed a fair bit in the first half of the race, but that didn’t seem to happen, perhaps because my legs were getting increasingly tired as the miles went on and my lack of training showed.
I counted down the last few miles and was grateful to a couple of people from North Shields Poly for Jelly Babies as we hit mile 12. From there you could almost see the finish line and I finished in around 1.43 which is a similar place to where I started my season in 2013 (building to a 1.24 half at the Great North Run).
At the finish runners were rewarded with a t-shirt, water and cereal bar.
Overall I think the Run Northumberland Half is a hilly and hard half, but I’m glad I ran it. The route was good and Kirkley Hall was an excellent place to start and end the race.