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I originally planned to go to Blackpool to support my friend Bryan whilst he ran the marathon.  He had wanted to run Manchester but it was the same day as the first championship race for Warrington Road Runners, Whitley 10k, so he decided to run Blackpool instead.  At the Manchester expo I was told that Blackpool was going to have a very good medal so I decided to sign up and just plod, treat it as a long training run.  There was a couple of other club members going too and a number of Warrington Running Club members running so it would be a fun event even though the rest of the country was focussed on that other race in the capital.

The race HQ was on a field next to the Hilton hotel.  This was my first Fylde Coast Running event (I’ve been looking at them for a while but they’re hard for me to get to unless someone who drives is going to) and I was really impressed with the organisation.  Number collection was really easy and there was lots of toilets, including the ones in the hotel.  We were there pretty early, so that Bryan could get himself ready for the 26.2, and it was quite fun to watch the build up of runners.  There was around 1,000 runners in total for the three distances and they pretty much just took over the hotel so good on them for letting us use it.  I really liked the commentator guy too, he made the morning a lot more entertaining.


Blackpool Half Route

The race started just outside of the hotel at 10am.  It was a very slow congested start but only for the first couple of 100 meters and then everyone spread out a bit and started moving pretty fast, probably too fast for some of the marathon runners.  Our first mile heading towards the Blackpool tower took 9:02 which is quite fast considering the slow start.  The aim was to run slow with Bryan but the problem was I couldn’t get him to slow down so I was actaully struggling to keep up with him.  I’m rubbish at starting fast and always struggle more in the first half of the race so having Bryan pushing me probably did me a lot of good.  We did the 3.4 miles to South shore in 32 minutes which was quite good for a half marathon but not quite as good for him going for a sub 4:45 marathon.  We followed the same road back to the tower which was pretty much a gradual uphill (don’t believe anyone when they tell you it’s a flat course) and so we slowed down a bit.  Once we got back to where we started the course then headed out towards Cleveleys and Queen’s Promenade for another three miles before turning back the the start again where I’d finish and where Bryan would have to redo the entire course again.


Blackpool Half Elevation

I was enjoying plodding along.  The course was actually quite pretty and it was lovely to see the beach with the tide out but it certainly wasn’t flat.  By mile 8 though I was starting to get that funny feeling I get sometimes where my head goes fuzzy and everything doesn’t seem quite real.  I knew if i stopped then I’d start having an episode so i just needed to not think and just run so I had to leave Bryan which I felt a bit bad about but I was probably just annoying him anyways and he was doing really well.  After I left I pretty much just felt like I was flying for the last five miles.  I ran past lots and lots of people along the last stretch of the prom.  The heat was a killer and I felt like I was burning but I kept going.  The last water station had been at mile 9 before we turned to head to the finish and although it was really great to have water every three miles it was really in this stretch that I need it and there wasn’t any until the finish.  It was really sheltered so there was no wind at all but the sun was just relentless.  For some bits there was a thin stretch of shade that me and a few others tried to run in but water would have really helped.

I ended up catching up with Tracey and Lindsay (who had just ran Manchester marathon the week before but was still going really strong) from Warrington Running Club and crossed the line just before them in 2:03:22, a pb by 3 and a half minutes.  I even managed a sprint finish.  Am very pleased with my time because I hadn’t intended on going fast and I hate running in the sun but I always seem to run well when I’m next to the sea (maybe it’s because I hate countryside races, you seen one tree you’ve seen them all).  I was only 21 seconds off a club standard but my whole aim was just to run the whole race so i don’t mind, will get it next time (maybe).  Lindsay had only entered the race because I’d told her that the medal was meant to be good, thankfully it was otherwise she might have chased me round the course again.  We also got a nice technical t-shirt too, which I wasn’t expecting, as well as a banana and a bottle of water.  An energy drink would have been nice but for the cost of the race, £22, you can’t complain really.  It was great to have the ever amazing Jenna from WRC turn up to support us too (I know Bryan was really thankfully for the cheers that she and the rest of WRC gave him) and it helped give it that last push up a really evil steep ramp just before the final half a mile.

I stayed around at the finish for a while with WRC and watched the marathon winner do a pretty impressive finish.  I then went to get changed in the Hilton so I could get back to watch mark finish.  It was quite a good location because you could watch for the finishers along the bottom prom before they turned around to head back to the finish about a mile and a half later.  Whilst I was watching Mark finish there was quite a bit of swearing and shouting from some people who had been sent the wrong way by a marshall.  Not sure what happened exactly but that can’t be good at the end of a marathon.  I have to say that the marshalls I reacted with were all amazing.  Hopefully it will all be resolved.  Bryan finished just over an hour after Mark in 4:36:13, a pb by almost 13 minutes for him.  The support was starting the thin towards the end and he had 7 miles of head wind so he did incredibly well.  The commentator guy was still going and really trying to encourage the people still there to cheer for eveyone, he did a great job.  He listened out for people’s names too so that he could cheer them on as well.

Overall it’s not a bad half marathon and I enjoyed my first Fylde Coast running experience.  It’s cheap but you get a lot for the money and the course is pretty good (as long as you’re not expecting it to be flat flat) and there’s plenty to look at whilst you’re running.  I’m not sure i could have re-done the course a second time for the marathon but as long as the weather is ok it would certainly be a fast course and i really love the medal.  One of the event staff told me that the medal for the Windmill Half on the 19th July is even better but I already have a race that day.