Tag Archives: Durham Coast Half Marathon

Durham Coast Half Marathon, Sunday, June 16, 2019

James Lee

Courtesy of Jan Panke

As excuses go, Sunday being Father’s Day was pretty good for getting my wife and kids out to Seaham. We hadn’t seen the sea for a while and didn’t know this bit of the coast. They watched the race start, saw the view, and headed down to the beach to look for sea glass in the sunshine.

In the race, Graeme Watt and Michael Littlewood shot off as expected but I wasn’t too far behind – I counted 12 in front of me and it was a fast, fairly flat start. The path was clear enough to enjoy the scenery as well. As the gaps got bigger it became clear that I and another guy were pretty even. He was good at the ups, I knew the pace on the flat and we both enjoyed the downs. I followed him for a few miles, then passed him – and found he’d been helping me find the route, too.

Courtesy of Jan Panke

Every now and again there was a stream that had cut down to the sea. At one point I could see the front of the race just 100m away – but they were on the other side of the stream and a mile ahead. We had to go inland, down and up and back out to the coast but it was good to see the leaders flying.

The race information warned about the 320 steps in those down and ups. Before the race I had gone over the river at Finchale Priory to practice a few times – but those steps are nice easy ones (I now realise). The steps along the coast are a whole lot higher so it was quite a relief to see everyone walking up them. Being in 13th place wasn’t too unlucky then – I’m not sure I’d want to watch the leaders on those climbs! The key was to start running at the top. I suspect that’s when my heart rate hit 178.

Then it started raining. In case you’re wondering, my family, with their waterproofs by the buildings of Seaham, got a few spots of rain on the beach. A few miles South it was pouring down on my Striders vest. Then we got to the stream that almost stopped the race. Over-the-ankle paddling, and we were told to stay in the middle of the ‘path’. It felt like running in lead boots for a while after that, so it was great to have Jan Young encouraging me up the hill. It also meant that Tony and I, still running together, exchanged names. Pairing up is great when it works, and we exchanged thanks at the end.

I didn’t cross the line with Tony, though. This was my longest race since 2003. Back then I was training for the London marathon, mostly alone and on the roads down South. I had learned that I could run up to 17 miles with no fuel. Turns out that, if you push hard enough off-road, the limits around 12. Tony edged away and, instead of speeding up on the flat finish, I lost places. Thanks to Allen Renwick’s yells of encouragement I did run over the line – but boy was I glad to see those cakes.

Thanks to all for the shouts and photos; the course and the education. I’m looking forward to the Northumberland Coastal Run.

Results for Durham Coast Half Marathon

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Durham Coast Half Marathon, Seaham, Sunday, June 15, 2014

Danny Lim, Sarah Fawcett

“The cakes are a mile away!”, read the final mile marker. I cheered quietly to myself, bereft of energy to say anything aloud. My legs were thrashed for lack of a technical term and I was struggling to maintain my current pace. Much of the last 12 miles had been undulating with several steep descents into wooded denes, followed by equally steep climbs. We were treated to birds eye views of secluded coves, wooded valleys, beaches and the shimmering sea. Remnants of Durham’s coal-mining past was still visible if you looked carefully; spoil heaps, slipways, railway bridges and the odd lump of coal on the beach.

There were sections where I was tempted to cut across to save on the distance but the route was very well-marked and I had to remind myself that this wasn’t a fell race. I liked the low-key and friendly nature of this race. For me, the part was the friendliness of the event from runners and supporters alike. At the finish, every runner was cheered on as if finishing the 100 metres in the Olympic Finals. What a homecoming and what a selection of cakes laid out for us! It was the creamiest, tastiest Victoria Sponge I have tasted.

I do think that this race has the potential to become a big event in the years to come. It was a well-organised, fun day out. And given that it is local and easy to enter, perhaps we should consider it for the Grand Prix next year?

A steamy strider scene.

… Sarah Fawcett

Having heard how scenic, friendly and well organised this was last year, I was a late entrant for this off road race and one of only 6 Striders running on the day, Richard Hall having to pull out due to injury.

The descriptions I had heard were all true.  The route takes you along some relatively little known beautiful countryside, and indeed the National Trust, the main organisers, cite this as one of the reasons for the run, to show more people the beauty of the area.

Being a small event, 200 ish on the day, it had the warmth and scale of a club event.  We picked our numbers up on arrival, we’re offered maps although assured of regular way marking, and joined a small queue for the portaloos.  What a shame that 2/3 of the entry money collected had to pay for these.  Come on Durham County Council, next year please can the organisers have your facilities at Spectrum Business Park, for free?

There was a 10 minute delay to the start because some villains had thought it a jolly jape to undo some of the 2 days hard work of the volunteers, and remove some of the way marking.  A suitable punishment for the wrongdoers would be to make them run this course, but more of that anon.

The weather was perfect; cool and still, and as the sea fret lifted we could see all the way to Redcar.  The lady next to me thought that was where we were going.  Fortunately distance can be deceptive and Crimdon was a lot closer.

The first dene, and therefore the first set of steps down and up, came within the first 2 miles and was a taste of what was to come.  I blithely admired the exposed magnesium limestone ( I read the leaflet afterwards) on the way down and then walked up the staircase the other side.  I was prepared to walk all of the 300 steps up, and so this wasn’t a surprise to me. The second set of upness seemed to have lost its cable car/furnicular railway. I can’t believe that those canny Victorians wouldn’t have thought this an essential addition to this nearly sheer rockface. Instead those lovely National Trust people had put in safe and sturdy steps. What was not very sporting was the very jolly official photographer who was perched near the top capturing people’s agony whilst keeping up the friendly banter.

We saw Hawthorn Dene, Horden Dene, Crimdon Dene and goodness knows where else. All equally scenic, all well signposted, all carved like deep gashes in the seaside border of County Durham. I was told that there were 4 or 5 sets of steps. I counted six, including an evilly placed last set not much more than a mile from the finish. Between the denes we went along the cliff top paths and through pretty wooded areas. The last mile marker stated “cake in one mile”. Fabulous; that is my sort of race. As the caravan park came into view I knew I was close to the finish line and apart needing to avoid kids on scooters and adults wandering aimlessly along the promenade I managed a spurt to the finish line and to the waiting Striders, and more importantly, delicious homemade cake.

Six stride out at Seaham.

My team mates did brilliantly; Danny Lim flew in at 1.50. The fastest Strider and well up the field John Hutchinson beat the 2hr threat at 1hr 59 mins. The most cake consuming Strider Jackie McKenna got an incredible 2hr 01min and was 6th female overall Paul Beal achieved 2.04 and was thrilled to not be doing Blaydon on the same day like last year Ian Spencer looked relaxed and happy with a great 2.14 And I brought up the Strider pack with 2.15 and was equally happy with the run and with the cake. Bizarrely and incredibly I was awarded a bottle of wine for being first Old Bird in. I probably should offer it back because the results show I was actually second in my age category but it is too late!

I thoroughly recommend this little gem to anyone who wants a locally based challenge, in a beautiful area, in a friendly, well organised event. Thank you to all concerned


Pos Name Club Cat Catpos Time
1 Mike Jefferies Billingham Marsh Harriers MS 1 1:20’18
20 Sarah Burrell FS 1 1:39’12
55 Danny Lim MS 27 1:50’03
84 John Hutchinson MV55 1 1:59’53
87 Jackie McKenna FS 5 2:01’08
95 Paul Beal MV50 11 2:04’59
123 Ian Spencer MV50 14 2:14’09
126 Sarah Fawcett FV50 2 2:15’37

183 finishers

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Durham Coast Half Marathon, Sunday, June 9, 2013

Matt Claydon

This was the inaugural Durham Coast Half Marathon heading south from Seaham down to Crimdon Park. A surprisingly scenic run for those like me that had only ever walked the dog at Blackhall Rocks. For most this included a 2mile stretch up and down Hawthorn Dene, unfortunately the first three home apparently omitted this part of the race through no fault of their own. Spare a thought for two of them who had finished on the podium at the Sunderland Half Marathon last month only to find out the full distance had not been covered then either (source: Peterlee Star).

Personally, I would have been quite happy to knock a few metres off the race, but I would have chosen to miss out the steep steps up the side of each dene we passed through. I ran up the first, jogged the next, then walked, then crawled. It was absolutely exhausting. Had I been a little more organised I would have noted these inclines on the map provided and set off at a more sensible pace. As it was I set off at my usual pace, which as usual proved to be too fast. After a couple of miles a peloton of 6 or 7 runners had formed about 50m ahead of me, with the race leaders already out of sight. My aim was to catch them and try to stick with them as long as possible. This proved to be optimistic as they forged ahead, although I managed to catch a couple of stragglers giving me hope. By the time I had scaled the second steep steps this hope hade long faded and I settled down to run my own race.

Company was few and far between with the 200+ runners stretched out along the clifftop. By 9miles I had reached the point where I just wanted it to be over, the inclines having drained all my energy. I was grateful that it was at least an overcast day and not the scorcher that Saturday had been. Small mercies. At this point I was somewhat bemused by a fellow runner having stopped ahead of me to take a phone call. I hoped it was not an emergency, but he helpfully pointed out the route ahead. I felt a little unsure as I reached the top of the sand dunes, and just as I was about to head down on to the beach I was compelled to shout back to him for confirmation. ‘No, sorry, I meant down the steps over there’ he replied. So off I set to try and retake a runner that had taken the opportunity to pass me, passing the missing marshal as she appeared from the bushes. I managed to catch the guy a couple of times as we worked our way to the finish, but he succeeded in the final push. I must admit feeling a little deflated when the substitute marshal also overtook me.

Still all in all I was pleased at the end, I managed a decent time (1.36) on a tough route, and if I manage a PB at Newton Aycliffe next week this will be why. Obviously the organisation needs a little work, but I can hardly complain I had intended to park up at the finish and get the bus up to the start, but was so badly prepared I got the race upside down and ended up at the start. At least I had time for a quick kip.

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