Louise Kelly reports on Sunday’s stroll along the Northumberland coastline.
Northumberland Coastal Run: sunday, 20th July 2014
Once again I find myself at the start line of a race that I entered last minute by way of transfer from Laura Dickson. Something which is becoming a bit of a habit with me. The day began with the sound of the alarm clock sounding at six am, followed by the swift hitting of the snooze button. Two snooze alerts later I reluctantly dragged myself out of bed. Why? Why am I doing this on my weekend off? Ah, yes! I remember, I’m an idiot who likes to run! A bowl of porridge and a bagel later and I was on the first metro of the day on my way to TBH headquarters aka the pool, to be picked up by Evie Maholam as she had secured a place on the North Shields Poly coach for us along with Rusty Maholam.
After a short coach ride north to Beadnall, where the weather had gone from being overcast and miserable to glorious sunshine. As we piled on to the beach plenty of black and white vests could be seen. James Dunce, Adrian Brooks, Emma Brooks, Michael Nemeth, Rachel Adamson, Kym Eden, Louise Rodgers, Sophie Marr and Colin Dilks to name but a few.
Eventually after a fifteen minute delay we were off. I knew before I ran this that it would be challenging and that I would end up walking sections of this route. Still the first thing that came to mind was that I hate sand, especially to run on. It is energy sapping and for a first time running on it slightly disheartening especially when I knew I was running well below my usually half marathon pace. Still I vowed to plod on and go for as long as possible. I was informed afterwards that a mile on sand is the equivalent of 2 miles on tarmac (this is hearsay and I would love confirmation of this). Despite this the view of all the runners stretched out along the coast was an awesome sight and one that I enjoyed seeing. Soon I found myself on tarmac and was for a change thankful for it. The familiar sight of George Routledge and his camera soon greeted me, it isn’t a race unless Geogre is there in my books, as did the first water station. The contents of which were poured directly on to my head and down my back and front. The glorious sunshine had become unbearable heat at this point. Soon we where back on the sand and again I could see runners stretched in front of me along the beach. The next mile and a bit was tough going and I found myself exhausted and thankful when I had to walk to safely pick my way over the rocks as a left the beach behind for the second time.
Now I found myself on the running ground that I relish and love – trails. The excitement of running on grass and earth overtook me and I soon felt a re-newed energy as I followed the twists and turns of this section of the course, running not only with my feet but also with my eyes as I searched for areas to place my feet. However my joy was should short lived as I had to stop and walk as five runners in front of me had decided to walk a particularly narrow and rocky part of the course. Eventually I came to a wider section and was able to run once more and leave the ‘walkers’ behind.
The ‘almost halfway’ point approached and a cheer from Annette Kelly, along with the second water station and two cups of water. The contents of which once again, after a quick sip, ended up being poured over myself. I was at this point looking like a entry into a very unusually wet t-shirt competition. A bridge followed quickly by a steep hill greeted me. This in turn was greeted with a ‘Oh dear a hill! Do I really have to run up that?’ to which the marshal replied ‘Most have walked it’. The completion of mile 8 approached and the sight of David Daniels’ smiling face greeted me, I half expected him to run past me at some point to get to a cheering point further along the course. The second bridge approached and my legs were not prepared for the change in terrain as my legs decided to go several different ways at once. I can only imagine that I looked like a dangling puppet at this point as a tried to regain my balance much to the amusement of the coast guards stood at the other side of the bridge.
Mile after mile came and went along with the third and final water station where I clearly looked like I needed two bottles as I was handed them but I gladly took them and a thought popped into my head, photo pose is sorted now! So I ran and walked and ran and walked for at this point I was drained and only the very idea of quitting being a none option kept me going. At last the final two mile sign approached and I turned towards the beach for the third and final time.
Funny thing happened next. You see I wasn’t expecting stairs. My legs certainly weren’t expecting stairs and informed me of this my means of not co-operating with my brain to get me down them in a dignified manner. In fact I needed a few seconds to compute and accept the fact that I was stood on sand once more. Off I ran along the beach once more, cursing in my head of how much I hated sand. I was soon greeted by a marshal and a Crook AC harrrier making there way through the rather long and what looked like a complex section of seaweed and rocks. That had to be carefully navigated through. All the while I was thinking the majority of competitors would have just ran over this. How the hell did they do it with out breaking their necks or some other bone? I could only assume that they leaped over like some sort of super charged gazelle or floated over them. Both answers are totally plausible and not the imaginings of a hyperactive imagination. Honest. At the end of this section the Crook runner was greeted by two of his fellow runners who had completed the run already and had decided to jog him back in. At this point the marshal turned to me and said stay with them. Which I planned to do but I could see the finish and by god did I not half want to get there quickly. So I made a bee line for the end and left the Crook crew behind. I was cheered on by Rusty and Michelle (from North Shields Poly) who had finished and were making there way through a cooler filled with food and liquid refreshment of the alcoholic variety. A quick pose for a photo followed. The result of which can be found on Facebook and off I went. I approached the finish to be cheered on by Sara James, Vicki Deritis and other TBH’ers. This was followed by me dropping one of my bottles which I dutifully picked back up. Can’t be seen to be littering now. Before crossing the finish line and thanking that it was over.
The question remains – would I recommend this to another runner? Yes, I would. Why? Simply because this was a test of endurance on both the body and the mind, in terms of physical and mental strength. Personally, I came away from this race with a renewed love for running and a sense of complete and utter peaceful serenity. I felt so calm out there just listening to the waves crashing on the sand as I ran. I felt a clarity that I have only felt once before where my body responded in the way I wanted it to.
Race results can be found here.