It all serendipitously came together when my friend Julie decided to join me to explore Holy Island and the general surrounds. She even managed to get us a cottage for the whole weekend, courtesy of her kind friend from the area, so we headed down to the little fishing village called Craster on Friday night to settle in. We arrived to a night sky awash with stars and a house already cosy with the coal fire left on for us. Happy Friday indeed.
|View from Bamburgh Castle Registration|
|Reaching the coastal path for the first time at Alnmouth|
At around mile 12 the Norwegian girl who'd been behind me caught up and we chatted for a while before she sped off. I had to remind myself more than once to run my own race and of my promise to Julie that this would be a training run only.
I tried to keep my pace steady and didn't stop at any of the other checkpoints apart from the check the timing chip in and grab a handful of sweets:
CP2: Howick - 12.7 miles 1.51 hrs
CP3: Newton - 18.7 miles 2: 51 hrs
CP4: Seahouses - 24.6 miles 3.46 hrs
I was just enjoying the peace, soaking up the sun and scenery, and was on my own for much of the remainder, apart from around mile 20 when I passed Tony. He was struggling with gastro problems, mentioning a 65 mile treadmill run he'd done for charity last weekend might have been too much! I also ran past a few other guys when we made it down onto the beach at Beadnell. One was one of the 'Vegan Runners' crew and mentioned I was moving into sixth place overall. The beach sections between paths were free and so much fun, apart from the seemingly endless final beach section into Bamburgh, where the marathon runners started passing us and heading up to the castle for the finish. Us ultra runners had to veer right round the castle instead for the final 8 mile loop, north around the paths and roads of Bamburgh to return to the same beach section and finish. Just as we started the final section I was passed again by another girl - who turned out to be the sister of the Norwegian girl in second place. Then all of a sudden Julie appears cheering in the dunes - a welcome support and encourgement not to slow and lose focus.
|Me plodding up the final hill to the castle|
After the final cheeky little hill up to the castle finish line I was done, in 5.31. And pretty dehydrated given I hadn't refilled my hydration pack for the entire race. I was only over the finish line for 2 seconds when the Endurance Life team handed me a print out of my splits - who needs a Garmin! We were all confused about placing - the team included - as the first Norwegian girl had done a disappearing act and the second wasn't in yet either, so it turned out I'd come second female, and third overall, despite my print out stating eighth overall. The ladies came in 10 minutes after and it transpired the first had not taken the final turn off up the hill to the castle finish and continued running along the beach. Quite a few of the guys running had also decided to call it a day for one reason or another at marathon distance, which the organisers had spelled out would be possible and a finishing time still given. Chris Jackson won in 5.05 with Lizzie Wraith close at his heels, first female and second overall in 5.07. There ended up being 4 ladies in the top 5.
So what else can I say - spectacular route, professional and seamless race directing, brilliantly marked course, sunshine, seascapes and later in the weekend, sticky toffee pudding. Julie and I even managed a lovely recovery run the next day alond the Craster section of the route, to soak up more of the scenery and surroundings whilst we could.
|The beach at Bamburgh|
And now the rain has returned but at least I have the first heat training session at Napier to look forward to tomorrow. Happy running days.