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Hadrian’s Wall Half Marathon
Sunday 5th June
This is a race that deserves to grow and one day reach its ambitious upper limit of 300 runners. Sadly, this day, only 49 finished, which must have been disappointing for the organisers and their chosen charity, Northumberland National Park Mountain Rescue.
The organisers went out of their way to ensure a safe and well marshalled event. St. John’s Ambulance were out in force. The course was well chosen and, except for trek to the start and the last mile, the course was well marked, scenic and a pleasure to run.
The race HQ was at a nice campsite, which included free, hot showers and a tea room. However, the runners email stated ’please allow 18 mins to get to the start.’ That turned out to be a wee bit optimistic. True, a fit runner could do that but if any supporters wanted to come and see you off, it would have been better to allow 30 mins, given that it was up a steep hill. Still, given the small field, they waited for the stragglers. The alternative was to have an uphill start. What’s wrong with that?
It would be better to think of this as a 13.1 mile fell race anyway. The website’s statement that; ‘the only significant climbs being along the wall itself’ was the sort of thing a dyed-in-the-wool fell-runner would say. I really want to do this race again. It is very enjoyable but, next year, I’m going to take the sort of kit that I would always have on a long fell run: full body cover (carried if not worn), whistle, energy drink, phone and possibly a button compass. Even in June, the rain, visibility and temperature can’t be guaranteed.
The only other fly in the ointment is that quite a few people ended up getting lost in the last mile, as well marked trails gave way to open moor marked with bits of white tape attached to stakes. I wasn’t alone in wondering whether I’d followed the official course at the end or got mixed up with the course markers from the start. Up to mile 12, I was pretty sure I’d finish in under two hours. I ended up coming in after 2 hours, 9 minutes and 30 seconds. I’ll wear the Garmin next year.
The men’s race was won by Les Smith in 1:34:14. The ladies race was won by Laura Davies in 1:54:41.