Great North West Half Marathon (20th February 2016) – Gone with the wind.

en-route to blackpool

I’ve always enjoyed the Great North West Half Marathon in a perverse kind of way. It’s a true battle of man (or woman) against the elements. Depending on what kind of runner you are the inevitable wind either slows you down to the point where you might even be walking or you power through it. I’ve always used it as a tune up for the rest of the years exertions and the experience of a tough half last year before Manchester Marathon seemed to benefit me in the long run.

Every year I finish it and every year I say “Never Again” to the point that it has become a running joke.

This year, however, when I finished and I uttered the immortal words “Never Again” I knew that I meant it.

We left Carlisle just before 8am. Last year a bus of DH Runners headed down to brave the conditions including supporters. This year, however, there were three of us and one supporter.

Conditions on the way down weren’t great. It had been icy early morning, it was raining and misty in places. This is possibly why a guy caning along at over 90mph suddenly lost control of his vehicle and started heading towards the central reservation. Luckily he, narrowly, managed to avoiding making contact with the central reservation (and us) and brought his vehicle to a stand. I’ll never understand why people can’t temper their speed to the conditions but more on that later.

After a quick stop at the services we were en-route to Blackpool for around 10am which gave us an hour to get sorted before the race started. The race numbers were to be picked up outside and not at The Hilton as per previous years. Most runners would also get changed and leave their bags in a baggage area at The Hilton as well but not this year as it appeared it was out of bounds to runners who weren’t guests.

After fighting through the big crowd who appeared to have parked themselves near the event HQ desks for shelter we picked up our race numbers. It was odd to find that there was no chip timing. On booking the run it clearly stated that races were chip timed and I’m assuming this was also reflected in the price. But yeah, the race definitely wasn’t chip timed.

The amount of portable toilets seemed inadequate for the amount of people taking part which meant a horrendous queue was formed immediately. A quick change in the loos wasn’t ideal. If I’d known there wouldn’t be anywhere to get changed I’d have done so at the service station when we stopped. This may seem like one big moan but it’s more the fact that none of this information was conveyed. All it would have took was a line in the race notes to say the race wasn’t chip timed and runners couldn’t use The Hilton like previous years. Anyway, that’s by the by.

The race started at 11am and we started somewhere in the middle of the pack. As I started to move through the crowd I heard someone shout “Steve” and turned to find that Marc (Over at Run Hemingway Run) was also taking part. This was a nice surprise as I hadn’t officially met him in person before. We’d been facebook buddies for the past couple of years after we had stumbled across each other’s blogs but we’d yet to actually meet properly. We had a quick chat and I was soon on my merry way to brave the next few miles.

To be honest, weather wise, it wasn’t too bad for the first six mile. It was relatively warm enough as far as this time of year goes and , barring the water coming over the top and soaking people, it wasn’t raining too much other than the odd drizzle. But when you turned the corner into mile six/seven and the wind hit you that’s when you knew you were in for a struggle. For the next few miles it was all about battling against the elements and keeping going until turning again for the loop around. I caught some time up for the next couple of miles but it wasn’t long until I was back into the wind for the last push to the finish.

In the last mile my mouth was absolutely brimming with saliva so I ducked over to the side to spit it out only to find the wind take it away right into the face of a lady behind me. I apologised immediately because I wouldn’t be happy with that at all if it happened to me. I’m usually very careful where I spit if I need to but it was definitely the winds fault not mine. Sorry!!!

I finished in a disappointing 1:58.32 in position 518.

The wind just absolutely done me in this year. Add into the fact that my training hasn’t gone great due to one reason and another and my time probably isn’t far off where I actually am fitness wise at the moment.

blackpool medals

And so we all reconvened and headed off to Harry Ramsden’s to console ourselves. The fish and chips definitely put a smile on our faces.

blackpool fish and chips

I took part in Harry’s Man vs Fish challenge and polished my bumper meal off in just over 20 minutes which bagged me a T-Shirt and a certificate (so it wasn’t totally a waste of a day).

man vs fish

Sadly, on the way back the traffic was backed up due to a bad accident. As we passed it looked like there were a few vehicles involved and the news was already reporting a possible fatality. We found out the next day that a person had died. But no sooner had the traffic cleared then people were absolutely caning it well over the speed limit. It’s incredible to witness that people have just passed the scene of a terrible accident and it hasn’t sunk in enough for them to temper their speed. Speeding and talking or messaging on mobiles while driving will probably forever be a bugbear of mine. I’d prefer people keep their head up and eyes on the road because in all likelihood if they have an accident it’s more likely they’ll hurt someone else than themselves.

Anyhow, another half marathon in the bag in testing conditions. I’m usually very impressed with the organisation (and pre-organisation) of this race but this year, in my opinion, it didn’t seem great. It just would’ve been nice to know that some of the things past entrants were expecting weren’t actually going to be available. Just my opinion that’s all.

And so, given that and given the conditions I’ll probably give Blackpool a miss for the foreseeable future. Barcelona seems to be calling again next year. Blackpool can stick its weather up its arse. Next up for me is Trimpell 20. Hailed as the perfect pre-london race it’s also a good tester for those doing Manchester or Brighton marathon. Plus my plan says 20 miles for that day so it’s pretty much nailed on.

Until next time

Dream, Believe, Train, Achieve.

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2 thoughts on “Great North West Half Marathon (20th February 2016) – Gone with the wind.

  1. I really enjoyed that. I read so many American Running blogs full of cheesy you can do it motivational enthusiasm it’s nice to have some proper English cynicism. Thanks!

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