Beadnell to Alnmouth Coastal Run – Race Report

Tyne Bridge Harriers’ very own ‘Dubliner’ Tony Carter reflects on his superb victory in this years Coastal Run.

The Beadnell to Alnmouth Coastal Run is a favourite among many runners, so popular that it sells out within 48 hours and runners come over to the UK just to do it, attracted by the scenery along the Northumberland coast including several beaches, seaside villages and the old Dunstanburgh Castle. The course itself is not properly defined with the runners themselves deciding the route, but over the years an informal course had formed taking the runners along roads, beaches and coastal paths.

This year’s edition is the third time TBH runners have entered the race, and in last year’s race we got 3rd individual place (myself) as well as 3rd team (myself, Kevin Jeffress and Dave Moir), and we were looking to improve on these results this year. With 29 TBH runners in this year’s race, some coming back for another year and some doing it for the first time, we were determined to get a good result and improve on the club’s record for this race.

The race started from Beadnell beach, and as I arrived I was absolutely buzzing for it seeing everyone again after flying from Dublin the day before. I had an idea what my form was like from a half marathon I did last week (more on that next week) and thought I can have a good go at challenging it. Despite the recent hot weather, most of the race was covered in fog for the first 45 minutes of the race providing at least some protection from the heat and the sun, and a head wind for the entirety of the race was slightly cooling too. At 10.30, the race was off with conditions being slightly tough underfoot from a rippled beach created by the tides. Confusion reigned as the lead group I was in continued along the beach despite two spectators on the beach pointed to the direction to the road. I just followed my gut reaction and turned back up the dune and onto the road going along the established route.

The road through Newton-by-the-Sea provided runners with a firmer footing that would allow a faster pace and most importantly a chance to recover from the first couple miles of beach that was sapping to the legs before another 2 miles of beach along Embleton Bay. TBH runners were welcomed onto the foggy beach by cheerleaders Lizzy Clamp and Vicki Deritis, and runners had the freedom to choose their route especially in the last half of the beach before joining the trail towards Dunstanburgh Castle which posed for some interesting route tactics: do you stick to the beach as long as possible taking a shorter route? Or do you take the more firmer but longer trail route over the dunes? My personal choice was the firm sand near the soft sand for some grip and a shorter distance, and getting off the beach before a bunch of rocks where I recalled I had trouble navigating from last year, and whatever rocks I faced I ran over in ease with thanks to a bit of fell running experience I did this year. My mind was rather foggy where in the race I was and where the next runners were, so I kept up a steady race pace regardless of where I was (although at times it felt more like a long hard Sunday run than a race).

The route from the beach became a trail path past the castle on the way to Craster. Sharp-eyed runners would have been able to see cuts in the path to take advantage of to get a shorter line, but at times was precarious with the rocks that stuck out until reaching a set of gates along the public footpath. At this point I knew I was first after asking the first aiders what position I was, much to my surprise after not knowing for the past 3 miles and not being able to see anyone ahead or behind due to the conditions. I was left in the fog on how far second place was behind, and knew I had work cut out for the remaining 8 to 9 miles to not get caught up.

Being back on the road through Craster provided another opportunity for runners to recover a bit on more firmer ground. The locals were out in force as they cheered all the runners passing through the village houses and businesses. Once more, sharp-eyed runners could shave metres off the course by taking a short path before the T-junction after entering the village. The end of the village marked the approximate half way mark, where the fog was finally starting to lift but the temperatures were starting to make it difficult for everyone racing. Nevertheless we were all going strong, with the TBH men all going strong and the women battling along the tough course.

The paths leading to the next village of Boulmer a few miles away was some of the trickiest of the course, ranging from grass trails, roads and gravel paths with a few climbs and descents thrown in for good measure. It’s also along these parts you can truly understand why runners want to do this purely for the sheer beauty of the Northumberland coast, and why it had been voted as Runner’s World’s best race in the UK. One hour into the race and conditions had become more difficult with the fog almost certainly lifted and the heat was beating down, and together with the ever persistent head wind and tough course conditions, everyone would no doubt be starting to feel slightly fatigued.

Once through Boulmer, the runners were on the longest stretch of road in the race and faced a slight climb to the final beach. The final part of the race went back onto the beach on the way to Alnmouth, providing one last mental and physical challenge as runners once more were faced against the tough underfoot and atmospheric conditions. Once past the rocks, runners were able to see the finish line marked by Alnwick Harrier flags, and were cheered on by many tens of people lining the beach on the way to the finish. As I approached the end, it was great to see the likes of Micky Baker running in the opposite direction, and Paul Hilton, Denise Waugh, Vicki and Lizzy as well as Micky who cycled up to Alnmouth at the finish.

Winning the race was definitely a huge shock for me as it’s the first main race that I’ve won in a race where many top athletes have won this race, especially running over 11 miles by myself. It would have been a sweeter victory if a good race could have been made out of it and I felt luck with the gut feeling I had at the end of the first beach played a huge part of it, but the nature of the Coastal Run dictates that runners can choose the way to the finish, and the conditions of the race make it a tough one to run in the first place.

Further back, Kevin Jeffress got onto the beach in second place, but after a sprint finish involving Conrad Franks of Gateshead, who continued straight on from the first beach and had to catch tens of places as a result, and Keith Hood of Corstorphine AAC, Kev finished in a highly respectable fourth place and improved massively from his 10th place and running over a minute and a half faster from last year. Paul Turnball was next to finish in 9th place, sealing a first place team prize for TBH. Mark Hall finished in the top 20, followed by Darryl Davison, Chris Graham and Mike Norbury in the top 50. The women put in a great effort too: Sophie Marr finished in 11th place in her first race over a long distance race, followed in by Lucy Matheson, Cath Willis and Kerry Reed. Well done to everyone running the race, and it was great to see everyone again before catching a flight back to Dublin that very evening.

1 Tony Carter 01:21:49
4 Kevin Jeffress 01:24:05
9 Paul Turnball 01:27:18
19 Mark Hall 01:30:50
23 Darryl Davison 01:31:18
34 Chris Graham 01:33:03
47 Michael Norbury 01:34:27
69 Andy Harrison 01:37:14
81 John Tollitt 01:38:53
98 David Antill 01:40:18
119 Sophie Marr 01:41:45
147 Nick Varley 01:43:56
185 Allan Wallace 01:46:14
190 Euan Clubbs 01:46:30
221 Nick Pearson 01:48:24
225 Heinrik Aicher 01:48:41
240 Steve Allerdyce 01:49:47
266 Michael Hancock 01:51:09
268 Lucy Matheson 01:51:16
358 Cath Willis 01:56:01
398 Kerry Reed 01:57:49
428 Stuart Dixon 01:59:52
480 Lisa Walker 02:04:00
532 Phillippa Nichol 02:07:26
592 Gavin Townsend 02:12:06
649 Mark Allison 02:16:27
669 Holly White 02:17:24
729 Vicky Forster 02:21:42
830 Kelly Spence 02:36:32

Tony ‘TC’ Carter

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    • John Ross on 15th July 2013 at 16:58
    • Reply

    Great Report Tony,congratulations for winning the 2013 Coastal, from all at Alnwick Harriers

    • Micky Baker on 15th July 2013 at 18:19
    • Reply

    Top man Tony well done mate I wanted to hug you as soon as I seen you on the beach if I knew how much of a lead you had i would of done once again well done mate.

    • Badger on 15th July 2013 at 20:55
    • Reply

    You must have knocked out that report at the same speed you ran the race. Well done TC.

    • on 15th July 2013 at 21:12
    • Reply

    excellent report Tony. well done on your win & to the TBH team & everyone who took part

    • on 16th July 2013 at 09:34
    • Reply

    great report Tony, and cracking race. Nice to have you back in the pack!

  1. congratulations Tony on a fabulous victory. you’ve joined a mighty fine list of previous race winners.

  2. Well done Tony and to everyone who raced on Sunday. Fantastic report, look forward to hearing about more of your recent races in Ireland.

    • Apples on 16th July 2013 at 11:48
    • Reply

    Always good to have TC back in the North East and a TC report is always a good read. He’s in some illustrious company being a winner of the Coastal run. Well done TC

    • Stu Dickson on 16th July 2013 at 13:43
    • Reply

    Well done Tony on a great race and report, captured the conditions and atmosphere perfectly, Great Victory for yourself TBH first team prize and everbody else who competed.

    • Simon Pryde on 16th July 2013 at 21:05
    • Reply

    Well done TC! What a victory! It’s like links golf, where you have to think your way around! Definitely going to tryand do this race next year.

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