Alnwick Castle Trail Half Marathon – 17th March 2024

By Gerry Hehir

Sunday morning, after the presentation evening, saw me and Jane set off on our next half marathon run, this time we were heading north up to Alnwick Castle and a run around the castle grounds.

We met up with our very own Crook star Kelly who had decided to add a trail half marathon to her marathon training programme. We all gathered below the castle walls next to the river (wet and muddy) the ground looked as clarty as the xc course from the previous week.

The pre-race briefing also failed to instil confidence that it was going to get any better (😅). We were told that course was a series of clarty paths and and number of climbs, the steepest and longest was at about 6.5miles. Hey-ho it could be worse haha.

So at 10am we were off.. Kelly was off like a bullet, Jane was skipping through the mud and I was breathing (just). It started uphill and continued uphill for a while just undulating paths through the mud. I started off making sure that I kept my H/R down and under control. As we approached the 1st mile marker I was just behind Jane who was running brilliant and Kelly was a bit further away but I was starting to get into a rhythm.

Those of you who know me will know that I can just keep going uphill. Jane caught and went past Kelly and I followed shortly after her. Kelly was running really well and was starting to understand the difference between road and trail half marathons. Jane and myself kept swapping places for a while.

The first of several challenging climbs was at 3 miles, about 200-300 metres, but the very top 30 metres were very steep. Me and Jane just managed to keep running but loads had already started walking the last bit. What goes up as they say comes down and we had a steep, muddy decent for the next mile or so.

I was starting to edge ahead of Jane who was nursing an ankle problem. At 5 miles I thought they had got it wrong about the steep climb they’d warned us about, it was tough and energy sapping. But NO at 6-ish miles we turned a corner and there was the hill from hell, I’m sure they’d imported it from the Himalayas hahaha. I kept my pace and effort going and was catching and passing other runners. I was feeling really strong and happy that I could keep pushing on.

Another shock was just around the corner at 10 miles there was that first hill looming in front of me again, I managed to make it to the top again and overheard a couple that I just got past saying that I was a flipping mountain goat haha (something that platonic Jayne has accused me of before). I knew I had only 3+ miles to go and was on course for a reasonable time.

I kept pushing on as I didn’t want anyone (Jane) sneaking up and going past. I pushed hard through the mud I could see the finish line looming so a final push and crossing the line in 2:06:06 happy to finally finish I didn’t have to wait very long for Jane who had been tracking me but just couldn’t close the gap.

She was looking strong and finishing in a fantastic time of 2:08:13. Kelly was next and she looked strong in 2:11:56. We were all shattered, it had been a very tough course and everyone had given their best effort on a tough day. To quote “I’ve ran in Hamsterley Forest 10k and other half marathons but this run was on another level“, couldn’t agree more.

So we tried and I think we did our club proud

Gerry 2:06:06 (2nd in age 60-69)
Jane 2:08:13 (6th 50-59 age)
Kelly 2:11::56 (16th 40-49 age)