Eight members made the trip to this year’s Alnwick Trail Runner festival, with two members opting for the 10k race and the remaining six taking part in the half-marathon race. (A 5k race was also part of the festival).
Julie Shaw and Michelle Ankers ran the 10k race, and taking into account the undulating profile of the course, both should be happy with their finishing times.
Representing the club in the half-marathon were Emma Wright, Bryan Ankers, Neil Capstick, Henrik Aicher, Ryan Hogben and myself. And despite several sharp ascents and the usual trail run obstacles – cattle grids, copious amounts of sheep doings and pesky stones finding their way into your shoes – we all ran good times, with Emma knocking 5 minutes off her 2012 time.
If members are looking for a challenging half-marathon for 2014, I’d definitely recommend this one.
Member’s results 10k
Member’s results Half Marathon
This was another one of those races where I’d entered months in advance – October 2012 in fact – and despite the late course change due to ground-works on Alnwick Castle estate my enthusiasm began to rise in the days leading up to the event. Training had been going really well, all my little niggles appeared to be on the wane and I thought what better way to round off a strenuous week than by running a leisurely half-marathon through the picturesque Northumberland countryside.
Conditions overhead were ideal for racing, with grey skies and the occasional shower keeping things cool, not to mention keeping the midges’ at bay. Unfortunately, the same couldn’t be said for conditions underfoot. Within the first half mile I realised trail paths and road shoes aren’t a good combination, the thin soles of my trainers offering little protection against the huge number of stones and pebbles along the way. Another hazard to contend with was the numerous cattle grids on the route. Picture the scene. You’re running across a cattle grid, you slip, your foot falls between the metal grating and SNAP!! There goes your ankle. That’s the thought that races through my mind every time I approach a grid and I don’t mind admitting I walked (gingerly) across everyone, even though it cost me several places in the race.
After 4 miles the course took us into some woods and we hit the first hill. Although not particularly steep, it did go on a bit and I managed to claw back one or two places. Dropping down the other side of the hill, and then crossing a divot-strewn field, the half-marathon route joined up with the 10k route (the half-marathon took place at the same time as a 10k and 5k race) and yet another lengthy ascent. Any pre-conceived ideas of a leisurely run had long disappeared but whilst running up this climb my thoughts turned to “Why the hell am I doing this?” “My training has been going well, I’ve got no injuries and I’ve just had a busy week”.
Reaching the top of the hill, the two races went their separate ways, with 10k runners heading straight on and the half-marathoner’s turning right. Up another climb!! Up until this point I had been literally cruising the hills, but this one got the better of me and I resorted to the tried and tested ‘walk-with-hands-on-knees’ up the climb. 10 or 20 seconds later I resumed running and soon reached the top of the hill. After a short, sharp decline the route followed a path, leading to a race marshal standing at the 8 mile marker, handing out water and jelly babies. After the fuel top-up, it was back on with the race, and whether it was the water, sweets or the fact we were in the latter stages of the race, I suddenly felt refreshed and able to push on the pace. Mile 9 was despatched with a 6:08, followed by a 5:50 mile and then a 5:49.
However, with just a few miles to go I began to feel my legs get progressively heavier – running 2 sub six minutes miles probably wasn’t the wisest decision I’ve ever made – and I decided to slow the pace, making sure I got to the finishing line. It was at this point a marshal shouted out “You’re in 6th place” and I suddenly became enveloped in fog of confusion. It had never crossed my mind that I would be so high in the placing’s, but now I was, I was fearful of losing any places to my competitors. Crap!!
Not knowing what sort of advantage I had over the runners behind me, there was no other option but to push on towards the finish line. Double crap!!
The ground-works on the Castle estate meant the final mile of the race was an out-and-back loop, providing me an opportunity to see where the runners were behind me. Turning at the far end of the loop, and with about half a mile to the finish, I could see I had about a 100/200m advantage over the next runner, with the guy behind him a further 50m away. If I could just maintain my steady pace then I’d surely keep my place.
And thankfully that’s how it panned out, with my time of 1:22:41 earning 6th place in the race.
I have to say, for a half-marathon that goes into the heart of the countryside, I only saw about 6 marshals on the whole route, but thanks to the excellent signage I never once had the fear of going off-track or taking a wrong turn. Something for other events to consider? And I must pay thanks to the organisors for putting on a great event. It’s difficult hosting one race at a time, never mind three, yet everyone agreed afterwards that they’d had a great day.
Congratulations to Harry Coates (Wallsend Harriers) on a fine victory. Harry was involved in a mighty tussle with Conrad Franks (Gateshead Harriers) for most of the race before eventually breaking away and finishing a couple of minutes ahead of his competitor.
Full results can be found here: