HALTWHISTLE HALF MARATHON
Report by Gary Wallace
PB Potential: 3 (possibly four when the walking bit is sorted – which the organisers hope to do for next year)
Scenery: 1(not for me)
Value for money: 3
Beginner friendliness: 3
Club support and social: 4
In short: It’s not Redcar
I love flat, fast races on the asphalt. With that in mind I’d already eyed up the Redcar half marathon for the end of September. However, I’d noted on Facebook that a few club members were planning a trip west for the inaugural Haltwhistle half marathon the same day. The pre-race advertising promised flat and fast too, however I still wasn’t swayed. It promised a scenic route as well. I’m a big fan of heavy industry and I’d take the rusty orange particulate soaked views of Teesport over Northumbrian countryside any day (seriously!). So Redcar it was to be. .
Until a neighbour and fellow runner (Davey Goodfellow) knocked on my door and offered me his spot in Haltwhistle . . . for free (thanks Davey). Conscious of my occasional tellings-off for spending too much money on races (despite one race a month costing roughly the same as a monthly nail job) I graciously accepted.
Name swaps were sorted and a few weeks later my number arrived along with race instructions pointing out a section of the race where we would be required to walk. . . . Yes walk! The route went through somebody’s garden who insisted upon the runners walking over his grass. After a minor hissy fit I soon calmed down and began practicing my ‘quick walk’ technique.
Onward to Haltwhistle . . . the Bounders had an enormous presence. In a race of 200 or so there must have been 1/5 from Blackhill. The organiser was suitably impressed enough to give the club a special mention during the presentation. As were four of my work colleagues who were along for the race too.
For the race itself I had a goal of running sub 80mins. I’d done Edinburgh in May in 80.23 so was hopeful of shaving of that 23 seconds. It was cloudy but warm and humid and those who ran will recall the air was thick with little black flies. . Several of which were inevitably ingested.
I had a canny race. It certainly wasn’t flat. There was a steady climb on the route, which we then descended on the way back following the turn at 6.5miles. The scenery. . Well I didn’t notice any. I got round under the 80minutes and snatched a surprise second place . . . for which I won £30 during a rather awkward presentation afterwards. Not quite enough to turn pro but it’s a start.
As for the walk, well I think it cost me 20 seconds in total so no real loss. I’m told the alternative was to descend and then climb some steps . . . and I bl@@dy hate steps. They have no business being in races!
Final word to thank all the support from fellow runners and supporters on route. I flew through that first mile after the turn when passing all of you on the way back down. It was a real boost.
Here’s to next year. . When I’ll probably do Redcar again