Trail 10k, 23rd September 2018. A coolish but pleasant morning for
racing. This run was re-established in 2014, with the original Coxhoe
10k on a different route dating back to the 1980s. The modern version
was put together by local runner Iain Twaddle and our own Ean Parsons
and attracts a decent number of Harriers. The course is a good one,
an out and back along the old Kelloe railway line, with a loop around
the plantation (‘pit heaps’) at the far end. This doesn’t really
hint at the two or three taxing hills on the route, the last one a
particular energy sapper, especially with another half mile still to
go once back at the top before the finish. The finish area is where
Coxhoe Hall used to stand (once the home of the Victorian poet
Elizabeth Barrett Browning) and offers a good vantage of those
struggling up the final hill. Well, I always struggle anyway.
is down at Coxhoe Leisure Centre, followed by a fifteen minute walk
up to the start/finish area in the woods. This year I got chatting to
folks at the finish area for too long and only just got to the start
in time. It meant I was right at the front and after just the
briefest of intros we were away. I’ve never started a race so
quickly. I dare not do anything other to avoid tripping other front
runners and only eased off once we were halfway down the first hill.
Turns out it was a successful tactic as normally I’m tripping over
folks on this bit myself. I kept a decent pace throughout, for me,
and beat my best time in five attempts at the course by a minute and
a half. The organisers moved the date back three weeks this year, to
avoid Tees Pride 10k, and I think the cooler morning helped too.
Either way, I was pleased with my performance.
record 200 runners completed the event this year. First Harrier was
Ben Smale (a Coxhoe lad) and first female overall was Lisa Darby, a
brilliant effort. A special mention also to 15 year old Daniel
Avery-McAleese who finished 33rd
overall in 44 minutes. Fifteen Harriers in total took part. It’s a
great local event and even more next year would be super.
This race doesn’t
need much of an introduction, with it being perhaps one of the most
iconic half marathon races in the world. Being a fairly novice
runner I wanted to set myself a challenge and with the race pretty
much on the doorstep I thought why not enter the ballot?! Training
in earnest started in June and I gradually built up the miles through
the weeks. Then came race day – my first attempt at 13.1 miles! I
think I was more nervous in the morning about getting to the start
line having read a lot about busy metro lines but in the end it all
went smoothly and I even had time to meet up with friends from work
who were also racing.
After that, it
was time to go to the start along with approximately 43,000 other
people, unfortunately I didn’t see any of the other 21 Harriers who
were also racing. It is quite an experience to be lined up with that
many people and to know I was in the same race as Mo Farah!
I crossed the
start line 12 minutes after the gun went off, I thought it was going
to be busy at the start but we were all pretty well spread out. I
went off too fast (definitely need to work on my race pacing) but as
I got down towards the Tyne bridge I tried to settle into it, however
that proved tricky with so many people on the road. This wasn’t
helped by people starting to walk at around 3 miles, if you’re
doing a half marathon do some training!
By mile 7, the
legs were starting to complain, time to dig in, and focus, however
easier said than done with everything going on and the heat. Had to
make use of all the water stations and the showers and by mile 10 I
was beginning to slow, the long drag uphill really does take it out
of you. It was quite a relief when it levelled out. Then there was
the short downhill to the sea front, round the corner and then the
end was finally in sight, but that last stretch, it felt so far. I
never thought the finish line would come but getting closer I took
one final look at my watch, saw there was a chance to still get under
2 hours and just went as fast as I could (admittedly not that fast at
the end of 13 miles) but crossed the line exhausted in 1:59:47. I’d
done it, first half marathon completed and really pleased to meet my
goal of sub 2 hours, even if it was only by 13 seconds!
I am glad I can
tick the Great North Run off the list, but I won’t be entering the
ballot this year – too many people and the logistics of trying to
find the family afterwards and getting home put a bit of a dampener
on the day. However, it certainly gave me the bug for running, I’m
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