I knew I was in trouble when I opened my information email about the Durham Coastal Run to find I was number 20! Now, either, there weren’t many people doing the run or I had been confused for some elite athlete! Numbers were limited to 250 for this, which means a good number didn’t finish or didn’t turn up on the day. Shame. When word gets out about this run I suspect numbers will fill up quickly in subsequent years. Why? Well, it has to be one of the most picturesque runs you can do.
Starting at Nose’s Point in Seaham you run the National Trust maintained coastal path to Crimdon. There is the occasional turn inland to get the distance right or because of inlets from the sea, but even these bits are beautiful. The route is mainly cliff tops with some wooded sections and was clearly marked. Despite this, it turns out the three front runners were disqualified as they missed out one of the turns inland! How they did this is beyond me as it was really well signed.
The organisation, by the National Trust, was superb. Picking up my number at the start went off without a hitch and I bumped into my cousin and fellow runner Craig – the Mordue boys were out in force! The run got under way on time and was well marshalled throughout, with drink stations every few miles. The end was a little bit of a let down as it wasn’t too clear where you actually stopped. But, coffee and cake awaited each runner so we can forgive them this.
The course is dramatic and very tough. I’d ran two half marathons this year at round about two hours and hadn’t shirked the training in preparation for this run but I was fifteen minutes off my usual pace. The first 7 miles or so was undulating but not too difficult. At about the 6-mile mark I ran past an Irish fella who must have been in his seventies. Clearly a life long runner, going in the other direction, on what was, no doubt, a regular route for him. “It’s feckin’ harder, the next feckin’ bit, feckin’ harder than the first feckin’ bit ya fecker, feck! Hard feckin’ work! Keep feckin’ goin’ big lad”. I kid you not! I have not re-written or paraphrased this at all. If anything I might have left out the odd ‘feck’!
…and he wasn’t wrong! I lost track of the amount of times we descended steeply into a gully only to be confronted with the steepest steps in the world at the other side. Now, I don’t mind running up steps but to be honest I defy any of you to actually run up all of these! Steep climbs, big steep steeps, and different sizes – very tough. I was on for a time of about 1 hour 55 minutes at about the 7-mile stage but this just slowed me right up.
Despite all of this, and the (slightly) poor finish I can’t fault this run. It was only £14 and in the ‘goody bag’ (always a favourite of mine!) were a nice t-shirt (a large that actually fits me), an energy bar, (another) water bottle, and a National Trust book on coastal paths and walks that they maintain. Not too shabby I’d suggest.
I look forward to next year but suspect it will be a close call to get in as word is probably out!