Great North Western Half – 2019

I’ve never raced a road half so I wanted to make sure I put in a good effort as part of my buildup for Paris Marathon.

Race information


ASub 1:18:00No
BSub 1:20:00No
CSub 60 min 10 mile splitNo




I’ve been working towards Paris Marathon as my goal race for the first half of the year and so this race fit in nicely as a good time and place to put down a hard effort and see how my training block has been going.

So far, I’m generally happy with my consistent mileage (50-60 mpw) since before Christmas and the addition of regular speed sessions should hopefully start showing and so I went into this race with high hopes of a strong run.


Blackpool is only an hour and a half drive and has plenty of parking (especially in Feb!) so I just made sure I got there in plenty of time to pick up my number and beyond that, it was all pretty uneventful.

I’m working hard to try and de-stress myself before races because I get myself into quite a state sometimes with pressuring myself to do well which has been a mental issue for me for a long time.

It’s weird because it’s not like I’m going to win or that I’m a pro who needs a payday to feed my family – it’s essentially a really hard training run with literally nothing riding on the result one way or another so trying to settle my mind before is sometimes hard. Once we set off, it’s all fine but I wish I didn’t stress so much!

Race strategy

I felt I could run 1:20 within my limits and potentially stretch to 1:18 if I had a good run and looking around the start line there didn’t seem to be that many truly fast looking guys at the front but I knew a few would certainly be capable of at least low 1:1x so I just figured I’d tuck in a row back from the front and run my own race.

My only goals were time based rather than position but looking at past results I felt top 15-20 (of about 900) should be reasonable but I wanted to split sub 60 for 10 miles and ideally hold on for my other two time goals so with the flat early part of the course it would be pretty easy to hold pace.


The course is a looped one with two small initial loops to string out the runners and then two longer loops mixing the lower and upper promenade along the coast. I hadn’t researched it in much detail which normally I would but I assumed it would be flat and fast which generally speaking it was …

Apart from when you get to about 6 miles and switch back onto the higher level of the two promenades and run straight into a hellish combination of undulating path and a headwind that while not gale force was comfortably 15-20mph meaning that the relatively comfortable early pace suddenly dropped 20 seconds a mile (it felt like way more!) and my legs got their first hint that the second half of this one was going to hurt bad!

I’d been running side by side with a guy from a local club and while we weren’t talking we were both comfortable at this point but starting to ramp up the workload a little.

Getting to around 8 miles, you drop back down onto the lower level of the promenade and the pace can pick up again but not enough to counter the slower previous 2 miles and so I went through 10 miles in 1:00:07 – damn! Just outside my goal time there.

My watch was beeping at me by now telling me how I’d forgotten to charge it and it eventually ran out at 10.8 miles just as I looped back onto the undulating headwind section for the second time and frankly I wasn’t bothered – I just needed to keep my legs turning over as best I could but I figure I’d dropped to somewhere in the 6:30/mile pace range at this point and my running companion from earlier had opened a gap on my that I wasn’t going to close.

At least nobody was near me behind and I figured I’d probably be somewhere just inside the top 20.

Eventually, you reach the turn off for the finish instead of the drop down we did on the last lap and it’s a long 300m to the finish and much like Dewsubry 10k recently I caught a glimpse of the finishing clock and knew I wasn’t quite going to be under 1:20 but I was fairly close and crossed the line in 1:20:21.

Overall, I was surprised to find I was 13th and I think about 5th Male Vet 40 so happy with that in the context of the actual race.


We had several members of the club running this one as it’s a good marathon build up race so we met up and went for fish and chips for lunch before heading back.

Frankly, Blackpool is a dump during the day, I dread to think what it’s like after dark so there’s no point hanging around!

What’s next?

Spen 20 miler is next up in a few weeks and that’s it for the Paris Marathon build up races. Time is ticking away fast and I’m not as confident as I hoped I would be for running sub 2:45 with a 35:03 10k and 1:20:21 half in my recent races.

The marathon pace still feels harder work than I’d hoped and a good run at Spen 20 might ease those nerves a little but I’m pondering how to approach Paris at this stage as the marathon nerves begin to kick in a bit.


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