Border Reivers Half Marathon

RAF Spadeadam, Gilsland, Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Joe O'Neill

It’s amazing what you allow yourself to get roped into when you’re at a low ebb…for example after you’ve just completed your first Spadeadam Border Reivers Half Marathon, have managed to stagger back to Alister’s car for the journey home and have just made yourself comfortable in the front passenger seat…

So there I was and Paul said “Alister tells me that’s your first official run in club colours? Do you want the bad news? There’s a tradition (a likely story!) that if you’re making your debut then you’re expected to write the report of the event for the club website.” Unfortunately I couldn’t back down….Alister had seen me take a pristine Striders’ running vest out of its cellophane packet just before the run so I couldn’t argue…..I’m still not sure about the “tradition” though….

We’d left Durham in pouring rain, driven through a deluge and finally arrived at this remote RAF station on the moors with (certainly on my part) some misgivings about the likely conditions we would face when the race started….but then I’m just a novice at this sort of thing and I was assured by my fellow Striders that all would be well.

The route covers a mixture of tarmac, forest tracks and rocky roads…..pretty muddy today as well, just to keep it interesting.

As it happened, the weather was relatively kind to us; the rain stayed away and the gale only actually howled as we reached the upper part of the course…the rest of the time it was only a gentle in-your-face headwind. Unfortunately (despite being described as “undulating”) most of the course seemed to me to be “upper” so I struggled even more than usual.

Not long after the start I thought everyone had gone home and left me as I didn’t see many other runners till I finally made it back to HQ; obviously no-one else can quite match my ponderous pace.

This may sound as if I had a bad day; on the contrary I can honestly say (now that it’s a few hours later) that I thoroughly enjoyed the experience. There’s obviously a special kind of camaraderie amongst madmen/madwomen who could surely find something better to do on a Wednesday in late October. There was a really good turnout from the Striders and it looked as if, apart from the RAF runners, Elvet Striders was the best-represented club there. In terms of performance all the Striders did their club proud (okay, I was a bit slower than most of the others but I did my best….actually only 5 minutes slower than my previous attempts on a much flatter course so I was fairly happy).

The facilities were really good. There was a very pleasant post-run reception in the mess with hot food and cheap beer and a generous thank you speech from the station commander…..they breed very young Wing Commanders these days!

I’d like to say thanks to all the Striders who looked after me today; it was the first “small” marathon I’d done….unlike the GNR and Redcar there was nowhere to hide! I’ll certainly do it again though…it was quite an adventure.

I’d also like to record my thanks to Jacquie, Denise and Steph following the saga of my running vest order….they’ll know what I mean!

Now to attempt walking upstairs…….

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