By Jeremy Smith
The Coastal run has always been a popular event – it was my late father-in-law’s favourite event and in his memory Claremont presents the Colin Archibold Trophy (more of which later) – and, since being highlighted in one of the running magazines as one of most scenic runs in the country, tends to close for entries the same day that it opens. The run attracts runners from outside the area – there are always an extraordinary number from Yorkshire – last year a significant number ran for Stadium (Huddersfield) and this year there were 28 running from Horsforth (Leeds)!
The run is similar to the Pier-to-Pier run in that there is no set route although, in practice, runners take the same route – last year, however, the front runners managed to lose themselves in the sea fret and take a detour so it was a considerable surprise when they overtook me four miles into the run (it was the first time I have ever led Conrad Franks)! There was no chance that would happen this year. The run usually starts at 10.30 am, but, because of the tides, the run did not start until 1.45 pm. By then the skies were blue, the sun was beating down and it was so HOT – quite the hottest weather in which I have ever run a race (and on the North East coast – incredible!).
The run starts on the beach at Beadnell. The first mile or so is run on the sand and through the sea – initially, you try to avoid the puddles, but you soon find out that you have to cross a “river“ so all that effort proves to be wasted. The run then takes you through Newton by the Sea (where there is the first drinks station) and then back onto the beach at Low Newton (next to the Ship Inn – one of the finest pubs in the area and, given the timings of the run, temptingly open!). As we ran along the beach towards Dunstanburgh Castle, I was already starting to feel tired – as it turned out, I think I managed to overtake only one runner – from Morpeth – during the rest of the run while being overtaken by about 30!
The run then passes Dunstanburgh Castle and follows the coastal path to Craster and another excellent pub, the Jolly Fisherman – I heard that two of the later runners were so dehydrated by the time they reached Craster that they went into the pub (without any money) and were rewarded with a couple of pints (of diet coke, I think) by the landlord who had taken pity on them!
Craster marks the halfway point (only), and then the run follows the coastal path south of the village until it reaches the road just north of Howick – the run follows the road for about a mile before joining the coastal path again near the iron age hut (which had been featured on the BBC series Coast a few years ago). The route then undulates (ie it is hilly) for another mile or so before we reach Boumer and another mile of running along the road (where I overtook the Morpeth Harrier) before returning to the beach just to the north of Alnmouth golf club and a final two mile trudge towards the end on the beach at Alnmouth.
I was exhausted, although remarkably I had managed to finish the run in the quickest time that I have raced the run (this was my fourth time) and was also the first finisher from Claremont. The Colin Archibold Trophy is awarded to the first Claremont finisher – male and female finishers in alternative years, with this year being awarded to the first male finisher – so I will be the very proud holder of the trophy when it is awarded to me by my mother-in-law at the Christmas party!
Congratulations to all the Claremont runners who participated and completed – a remarkable achievement given the heat.