This report comes courtesy of our new reporter, Amanda Hall. Welcome Amanda!
Northumberland Coastal Run 2014 (Photos by Andrew Dyson, Paul Murphy & Stephen Hall)
By Amanda Hall
So, after determinedly saying last year that I would never do it again I once again found myself waiting at Monkseaton metro station for the ‘fun bus’ to take me to the start of the Northumberland Coastal Run.
Voted number 1 run in the UK by Runners World it is by far the most beautiful, scenic race I’ve ever ran. However as I learned last year, it’s not one to be underestimated. Starting on the beach at Beadnell (which incidentally is a VERY long beach) the 14-mile undulating route then heads south all the way to Alnmouth via coastal trails, footpaths and sand.
Back on the ‘fun bus’ filled with 49 people, spirits were high. Most were runners but there were also many others who came along to support along the route and provide post-run entertainment! I believe this was the largest ‘Poly Tour’ bus we’ve ever had which is quite amazing. 45 Poly runners completed the run although it was a close call for Greg Penn who almost missed the start!
With a later start than in previous years due to the tides, the sun was blazing as we lined up on Beadnell beach. Perfect conditions for running, if you’re a camel! Hot, hot, hot! The aim of the day was to get to the finish safely and enjoy the fantastic views along the way.
Starting on the beach meant wet, soggy feet from very early on. Lovely! For us average runners the rocks at the end of the beach were a welcome reprieve as a very orderly queue formed to scramble off the sand. Our joy was short-lived however as after a brief spell on paths and road we were back onto the sand again. Who knew Ron’s sea strides sessions would come in so handy?
We were then welcomed by Dunstanburgh Castle. The castle was barely visible last year due to mist therefore this was a great sight. We are very lucky to live and be able to run in such beautiful surroundings. The route around the castle was very narrow and required some nimble footwork to stay on your feet. Those EMC sessions around the lighthouse definitely helped with this part.
As we headed into Craster Village at the half-way point, Clare Swift was a welcome sight with her words of encouragement. It was almost enough to distract from the smell of fish and chips. The Robson family and Jacky Penn provided a much needed pick-me-up at mile 9, strategically placed at the side of the little bridge handing out water to all Poly runners. I have never been so happy to see some friendly faces! Thank you all so much, it was much appreciated! The smile on my face quickly faded half way up the monster hill that followed.
A few more miles and we were almost onto Alnmouth beach with ‘2 miles ish’ to go. If you’d never ran this race before you could be fooled into thinking you were almost at the finish. Alnmouth beach however is a magical beach for it is never ending. The support along the final stretch from fellow Poly runners and complete strangers was fantastic and really helped to pull you along.
Much anticipation surrounded the finisher’s t-shirt after a poor effort last year and it didn’t disappoint. Look out for a bright orange t-shirt coming to a running club near you soon J
The race was won by Kevin Jeffress of Sunderland Harriers in a very impressive time of 1:18.57 following a disqualification of the actual first runner due to a mix-up of number transfer. Kevin was followed by Darren Purvis (Birtley AC) in second place with our very own Iain Twaddle securing 3rd (1:20.48). The legendary ‘naked runner’ Greg Penn put his clothes back on to finish as 1st V50 in a cracking time of 1:28.19. The Poly men secured the male team prize – well done lads. Claire McManus had a fantastic run, finishing as 2nd lady with a time of 1:31.34, narrowly missing out on 1st place to Debbie Appleton (Havering Mayesbrook AC). A fantastic performance from all other Poly runners with many improving on previous years’ results despite the hot conditions – you should all be very proud of yourselves.
In true Poly fashion, the post-run debrief was held in the local beer garden (it is important to replenish lost fluids after all) where us runners were finally able to enjoy the sun and have a catch-up with everyone. A huge thank you must go to our Club Captain Vaughan Hemy for all of his efforts to keep us in check throughout the day. From organising the bus, collecting race numbers and getting the pints in, Vaughan really does go that extra mile J
As for the ‘singing’ on the bus on the way home, as Richard Hanley put it ‘what goes on tour, stays on tour.’