Castles Half Marathon 21st October 2018 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 the scenic (Haweswater) the hilly (Raby Castle), the flat (Blyth) and been seduced into entering by “pb potential” (Prudhoe) but I’ve always regretted it. After 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 club vet 40 prize. With John Donneky and Mark Charlton turning 40 next year it could be my last chance.
Castles Half Marathon is described as undulating by Run Nation who organise the race. It starts and finishes at Bamburgh Castle. The race was recommended by Graham who 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 where numbers were to be collected.
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 was envious of the lone jogger on the beautiful sandy beach below but reminded myself why I was taking part in the race.
The half marathon started on time and 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 leaders. The 13 mile marker and a finish into the village and down to the castle was a huge relief for tired legs and an exhausted brain. A 5th place finish and a nine-minute pb were unexpected and a bonus on a day which couldn’t have gone much better.
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 me a blow when I won the vet 40 prize which is a £20 non-transferable voucher redeemable against another road race. Last laugh to the road running gods!
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