Kielder Half Marathon
Kielder Water is a large man-made reservoir in Northumberland in North East England. It is the largest artificial lake in the United Kingdom by capacity of water and it is surrounded by Kielder Forest, the biggest man-made woodland in Europe. I’d never been before but had been blown away by the beauty of the area after a visit earlier this year to a nearby area. My friend had started running this year and as she is lucky enough to live within a stones through of some of the most stunning Scottish Scenery she has been running in and around the Cairngorms of Scotland. She finally bit the bullet and decide she wanted to enter an event so began looking for off road half marathons. Kielder seemed ideal as it was half way between us both and the race itself looked stunning.
Although you can stay at the reservior itself these facilities were shut for the weekend. We booked into a nearby site called Bellingham Camp Site and Steve and I stayed in a camping pod. It was definitely a good idea as we had the first frost of the year and the winds decided to pick up on our last night. I think we would have been pretty cold and miserable if we had been in our tent but the heated pod was super cosy and the facilities at the site included a kitchen and common area.
On the Sunday we drove to the parking area at the finish area of the race and got a shuttle bus back to the start. There was no waiting around and the organisation was great. The start was a bit open to the elements as you are at one side of the dam so we were glad of Ginty’s space blanket to keep us warm. There were plenty of loos and the bag drop was a big lorry that would then transport the bags to the finish. There were about 1000 runners doing the half and another 1000 doing the full marathon distance; although they started at the finish of the event and did a full loop of the reservoir.
The first 4 miles cross the dam and head up into the forest then loop back over the dam, you pretty much stay next to the reservoir then follow compacted trails through the forest. There were plenty of water stops around the course and the organisers had opted for recyclable cans of water. It was a bit odd drinking water from a can but they did the job. The field thins out so we never felt we were stuck in a crowd and there was plenty of opportunity to run on ahead and wait or circle back. From about a mile from the finish you can hear the crowd and I knew this really perked Ginty up as she was starting to flag.
Sadly there had been some issues with the medals so although we did get one as we crossed the line it wasnt an official one so we have been told we will recieve one through the post. The goodie back was a nice canvas one and we got a tshirt so not a bad finishers haul. Daley Thompson was involved with the event and we were super chuffed that he was there at the end and happy to pose for photographs.
There were photographers at various points round the course and all the pictures have been uploaded and are free to download in HD. This is a fantastic bonus as many event photos are really expensive to buy.
One of the 30 or so photos we were able to downlaod for free 🙂
As we crossed the line there were tears; Ginty because she was glad to finish and me because I was so proud to see her finish it and be able to run it with her. It was a fantastic weekend; not just because we were there with friends but because the event is well organised, friendly and provides beautiful views of a stunning part of the world.
I dont want to define Ginty always by her condition but I think its important to mention it. She has MS and was diagnosed several years ago. It came as a huge shock and obviously at the time she was devestated. Since then though she has made her mark firmly in the sand vowing to never let it beat her. She lives life to the full and is a real inspiration to other MS sufferers. So although this event was just another run for me it meant so much more. I was able to support my lifelong friend doing something we both love, with people we both love, in an area of the UK that is breathtakingly beautiful. Whats not to love about that 🙂
Same time next year???