Andy Harrison reports from Sundays Wallington Half Marathon in the Run Northumberland Series
This report may become rambling and long winded, if you want to cut to the chase Micky Baker provided a succinct summary of the course as he crossed the line dripping with sweat, his verdict was two words long and rhymed with “clucking bell”.
What hellish torture could have made such meek and quietly spoken man utter such words? Read on….
I ran the inaugural Wallington Half Marathon last year, it was my first ever race and I had only started running a few months earlier to keep fit through the winter before a bike trip to the Alps last summer. I had fully intended to run the race then burn my trainers before they walked themselves to the bin. 12 months on, with a cupboard full of running shoes, 5 halves and 1 marathon under the belt , and two matching Achilles injuries to show for my trouble I was back hoping for a better time (the bike is still in the shed).
I departed the coast at 7:30 (7:30!!! and that doesn’t include the hour lost to the clocks) in a right pea souper but by the time I reached Wallington the sun was breaking through and it felt like summer. As I waited on the line for the delayed start I couldn’t see any other TBH vests, although I spied Steffen Haugk running really slowly up to the start line (I found out later Steffen had just injured himself on the way up the hill, bad luck Steffen – I’ve heard runners worrying about not making the start line but that’s taking it a bit literally!). There were actually 8 TBH vests running – I need to be more observant.
The course itself is as Dave Rowe described it, a bit lumpy. With a steep downhill start and finish the rest of the course is undulating and makes it difficult to get into a rhythm, with one last long climb between 11 and 12 miles. After the race was started by Olympic hopeful Stacey Smith I tried to not get carried away in the fast first mile before the course turned left towards Middleton. From the off my splits were a bit all over the place dictated very much by the course, but as we turned into Hartburn at about 5 miles, running with Greg Penn of NSP (I think it was he as he was running “tits oot” style with his vest tucked in his shorts) I felt quite strong and was hopeful of a good time. However as the race progressed the mercury rose and the constant little climbs took their toll on my calves, Greg pulled away and my pace dropped above 6:30.
It was at this point as the road stretched out to Scots Gap I saw the first of the TBH vests I had missed earlier up ahead – I found out later it was Ian Jackman. Ian beat me by a minute here last year, he finished a full 3 minutes ahead of me this year in an excellent 1:23 and a full 6 minutes improvement on his 2011 race.
The race continued up and down through the beautiful Northumberland scenery (I say it was beautiful, I only ever looked at the 10 yards of tarmac straight in front of me and that’s only beautiful if its flat). As we approached the last 2 miles I felt stronger again, I’d saved a bit for the last hill and passed the 4 people I could see in front of me on the climb and sprinted (sort of) the last mile downhill to the finish.
I finished in 1hr 26 mins, for the record 4 mins off last years time and given the current injury record and marathon training plan I’m fairly happy with that. Once at the finish there were suddenly TBH vests finishing at regular intervals (where were they at the start?) I saw Dave Rowe and Simon Pryde finish before Mr Micky Baker provided his eloquent summary of the day. At which point this correspondent retired to the tea shop to eat his body weight in scone.
A great day out in lovely surroundings, its not a pb course but then if you want to be guaranteed flat courses run on a track.
Tyne Bridge Harriers Results
16 Ian Jackman 1:23:27
17 Andy Harrison 1:26:25
57 Simon Pryde 1:32:18
77 Dave Rowe 1:35:27
87 Kevin Jeffress 1:36:19
99 Micky Baker 1:37:33
160 James Knox 1:43:51
175 Christopher Mitsides 1:45:19
275 Lisa Walker 1:52:31