Sunderland Half Marathon Race Report

rob_sunAs with Blyth, this was a race I was looking to shoot for a PB (my current being 1:18:01 at the Great North Run last year), however my efforts were again thwarted by the weather.
The forecast for the day was 20mph winds and heavy rain, and the forecasters were certainly spot on with their predictions.
As we set off for the first couple of hundred metres I was running with the leaders at the front of the race. Quick look at my garmin – 5-20 pace, ok that’s a bit tasty – time to slow down.
I let the leaders shoot off & settled into around 10th place – after a few miles the first group were out of sight and I could see 2 runners about 100m & 200m in front of me.
After about 4 miles my calves started to hurt – uh-ho, that probably means I’m not fully recovered from the 3 peaks last week, I just hoped they wouldn’t cramp up later in the race.
All sorts of things go through your head in the early stages of a race like this – can I hold this pace for the rest of the race, what am I going to feel like at mile 10, but the main thought that was going through my head at this point was “I wish this wind & rain would **** off”.
Despite the conditions I was still averaging about 5-53, but I know I was yet to feel the weathers full force. This happened when I turned into Ryhope Road and I was running head first into a ferocious head wind. Wow that slows you down.
It’s easy to think that this is a fast course, but you forget about all the slight uphill/downhill sections and little twists & turns like the U turn at the end of Ryhope road – thankfully this meant the wind was behind me, at least for now.
It was at this point when I realised the runner in front of me was Andrew Jackman, who I work with. I had been gradually gaining ground on him & went past him at about mile 8.
Then it was time to head north over the Wearmouth Bridge for the final few miles. I always find that around mile 9 is the equivalent of miles 18-19 in a marathon. It’s where the questions of “have I set off too fast” and “can I maintain this pace for the rest of the race” are answered.
Today the answers seemed to be “No” and “Yes” and I got a little burst of energy at this point. The next runner was about 200m in front of me and I didn’t think I’d be able to catch him – he’d went past me at about mile 4 and was obviously running well. I just tried to maintain the pace I was running at – around 5-56 at this point.
Onto the sea front & fully exposed to the cold wind and heavy rain – the route takes another U turn & then into Roker point. As I turned I saw another runner close behind me – wow he’s made up some ground in the last few miles.
This gave me a bit of extra impetus to push on through the park, although I was nearly blew over coming out of it. It was now running straight into a strong headwind again and it was at this point that I knew I wasn’t going to beat my PB, the wind was just too strong.
The runner behind went past me with about a mile to go, I tried to hold him off but he was just too strong for me at this point and I was exhausted.
As we turned onto the final straight I spotted another runner just in front of me, not the one who had went past me but obviously someone who was struggling. Could I catch him and the other runner before the finish?
I tried as hard as I could but it didn’t happen, they beat me by about 10 seconds and I crossed the line in 1:18:23 in 11th place (if the race had been 2 months later I would have been first V40 and won £50 – something to aim for next year).
I don’t think I’ve ever been so cold or wet in a race before (other than a fell race), but you have to take the rough with the smooth – you can’t control the weather on race day.
Congratulations to the other brave hoops running today in both the half and 10k races:

Nathanael Ogborn           1:26:00
Shaunak Deshpande       1:35:15
Michael Gills              1:47:25
Craig Hendry                     1:58:25


John Walton       44:29

Dave Candlish    49:05

Jacqui Candlish  49:47

Trevor Sirmond 56:42

Chris Watson     1:00:32