North Lincolnshire Half 2016
Almost every year since this race was revived in 2012, I have made the trip across the river to Scunthorpe for the north Lincolnshire Half Marathon. I have trudged the long walk to the start, enjoyed the copious amounts of tea and sausage/bacon butties and revelled in the atmosphere of the stadium finish. But I’ve never actually run it. So it seemed only fitting that the one year hubby decided he wasn’t going to bother, I went and signed up instead. And boy am I glad I did!
After last years deluge of freezing horizontal rain the weather couldn’t have been better. It was warm but not hot and there was a nice gentle breeze out on the country roads, though nothing strong enough to trouble any of the wind turbines we passed on the way. In other words perfect running weather.
The course is essentially flat (aside from the flyover at 12.5 miles) so it’s always listed as a possible PB race but before the start I wasn’t so sure. For reasons known only to my legs, I always seem to do better on an undulating course where the time lost on the uphill is more than recovered on the long downward stretches (Bridlington is my favourite) and although I’d been putting in the miles they were generally slow and steady.
Lining up for the start I was therefore surprised and pleased to see pacer flags hovering over the assembled crowd. Initially drawn to the 2 hour pacer, as we lined up I noticed that the next one down was not 1:45 as I had assumed it would be but was actually 1:50. My PB was 1:51:58 so this I figured was doable and as we set off I settled in behind the 1:50 posse. The one disadvantage to running with pacers is that you tend to find yourself in the middle of a small huddle and for the first few miles there was not as much room as I would’ve liked. However by half way the advantages were clear. Distracted by the chatter of the crowd I barely noticed that we were running consistently 5-10 seconds within the target pace and I was feeling good.
Going through the 10 mile mark we did a little quick maths and worked out that we were due to finish around 1:49:30. Realising that this meant I could drop 30 seconds per mile for the remaining 3 miles and still get a PB gave me a final boost and as we headed back towards the main road I decided to move ahead and see what I could do. The final long stretch down to the retail park seemed to go on forever and if I have any criticism of the course it is only that there are a couple of long straight stretches that could be soul destroying on a bad day. Happily this was a good day and by the time I hit the flyover I could feel the pull of the finish line and powered down the slope and into the stadium.
The best thing about this race is definitely the finish on the pitch. There’s an over enthusiastic boke on the tannoy, the roar of sizable crowd and for those with the energy the change to elicit oohs and ahhs from this crowd with a glorious sprint finish. There were over 30 Harriers taking part this year and although not all races went to plan I think overall it was a good day. I knocked minutes off my PB as did many others (Kirsty Wilson showing off by finishing a full 7 minutes inside her previous best) and some Harriers also set their best time by finishing their first half marathon races.
At £28 it’s not a cheap race but I was pleased with my medal and t-shirt and together with the superb organisation I think it’s almost worth it. Plus, if you’re chasing times – well there really is no better chance locally.