Northumberland Coastal Run July 14th 2013

42      1:33:40    Mathew Kingston
60      1:36:09    Tom Oliphant
100    1:40:29    Jeremy Smith
126    1:42:07    Chris Jones
129    1:42:14    Sumanth Nayak
191    1:46:32    Rez Prathalingam
206    1:47:33    Jeremy Ellman
222    1:48:24    Kate Sergeant
224    1:48:36    Graham Leslie    3rd V60
294    1:53:18    David Beaney
450    2:01:57    Jonathan Mains
517    2:06:14    David Reay
530    2:07:13    Bill Milbourne
556    2:09:22    Dave Manners

This is one of those races, much like the Kielder Marathon, that look great on paper but when you do them, realize just how horrendous they are. Of course, the memory soon fades, you sign up again the next year thinking it surely wasn’t that bad and go through another round of hell. I’ve found that races that have misleading descriptions like ‘scenic’ and ‘gentle trails’ are the worst. When you’re going flat out and feel like keeling over on the side of the road, the scenery is the last thing on your mind.

I won’t bore you with the details, you can read my report from last year. Conditions were similar, maybe slightly warmer with a lighter headwind. I’ve been in no condition to ‘race’ in the past few months so I thought I’d just enjoy it and treat it as a scenic training run, especially since I should be tapering for an ultra I’m doing later this month. But as always, when everyone shot off at the start, I got sucked in and went off way too fast. Last year, I went headfirst into a stream on the first beach, jarred my knee and hobbled the remaining twelve miles. Thankfully, this time it was only ankle deep, so I managed to stay on my feet and in one piece for the rest of the race.

As for the ‘scenery’, there really wasn’t much to see as most of it was shrouded in mist for at least the first eight miles. More than the headwind, the undulations, and the gravelly trails, the worst thing about this race is the sand. I think there’s at least four or five miles of hard, rippled sand which absolutely destroys your rhythm. With my minimal shoes, I wasn’t looking forward to the gravel trails but it was the rock hard, uneven sand that did most of the damage.

After twelve miles of pain, the organisers save the worst for last. The last mile and a half is on a beach that seems like it’ll never end. When you do finally see the finish flag and speed up a bit, the final thirty-ish yards are on super soft sand so a sprint is out of the question. Despite being able to run the entire way this year, I only managed to knock three minutes off!

Don’t let this cynical report put you off doing it though. It’s a great race, very ‘scenic’!

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