Race report from Heidi Finlay on the rather windy Brass Monkey half marathon. Well done to everyone taking part.
The truth is, we all like to hibernate during the winter. The dark nights, the icy paths, Christmas festivities tempting us with just another mince pie and mug of mulled wine, that pesky cough… Why go out and run? I’ll give you one reason: The Brass Monkey Half Marathon. Yorkshire’s finest. 13.1 miles of countryside; single track lanes meandering through fields, winter woodlands, cute cottages in picturesque villages with enthusiastic families holding up posters for “Debbie” or “Press Here for a Boost”.
I’ll be honest. It is a quiet one. There aren’t hoards of people the whole way round, but I kind of like that. I enjoy getting into the rhythm of running. I like not having to shoulder barge past runners in the first mile, who have been too enthusiastic in their expectations (I mean if you are not going to run a sub 2, DON’T STAND in that area at the start!) Very early on you are nice and spaced and you tend to run near your pack the whole way with people who have either trained, or have realistic expectations of what they can do.
The whole thing is hassle free. You can drive down in the morning or stay in a cheap Travelodge the previous night. It’s easy to get to as it starts (and finishes) at the racecourse and there is ample free parking. There are plenty of toilets and a lovely warm stand to meet club mates in. They sell tea and coffee up stairs when you finish. The marshals are friendly and helpful.
Have I convinced you? I haven’t even mentioned that it is “flat and fast”, so if you are chasing a PB it’s a good one. There are two “humps”, shall we call them, on the way out and back, but if you have ever run up the Western Way, The West Road or even Station Road from Newburn to Heddon, these shouldn’t cause you a problem. The course heads out from the racecourse, loops and then heads back.
The negatives? Having to get up at ridiculous o’clock to log on to try and get a very limited place -under 1,800 available. Not being able to control the weather- like today battling “gusty winds”- it could be snowy or icy or just everything at once (let’s face it though- the coastal race was like that in July!) Then finally, trying to be good over Christmas so as not to completely scupper your chances of a PB (not managed that one yet…)
Today there was a good crowd of Ponteland Runners down racing. A few out for the craic (trying to educate the world how to actually pronounce Ponteland), PBs for men and women a-like, (even my 10 second shaving off- a thank you!) and good strong runs for others.
A big shout out to Esme and Tony for taking four minutes off their PB times! A great day had by all.