Tag Archives: Tim Skelton

Keswick Half Marathon, Sunday, May 6, 2018

Tim Skelton

Over the past few years, there seems to have been an increase in the add-ons available when booking races. Tech t-shirts, medals, coasters etc…. The Keswick Half Marathon was no different (with t-shirts and slate coasters available) but a “pleasant” surprise was that they included a heatwave for free.

I thoroughly enjoyed last year’s race which I would easily describe as the most scenic and beautiful I’ve ever entered. It is very well organised with registration being held at the rugby club, 1 mile from the start at Portinscale. On paper, this sounds like a right pain but in reality, it adds to the atmosphere and enjoyment of the day. The race is limited to 1000 with some EotD.

As everyone streams along the path flanked by sheep and fields you can see everyone actively relaxing whilst they warm up. I spent the time strolling along with my wife, Jane, whilst Club shirt spotting. There seemed to be an awful lot of our usual XC enemy from the Poly. I knew this was going to be a very different affair but I had my heart set on beating as many of the red/black lot as possible.

The start was held just over Portinscale’s mini Humber Bridge. Many of the Purple Army congregated and nattered before the race with some of the Bob Graham Round support team also in attendance to wish us well on the tarmac. All of a sudden the race director seemed to be counting down from 10 and we were off…. very little warning.

The initial mile winds through the village past a lot of parked cars and supporters. It reminds me a little of the start of the cash-cow that is the Blaydon race.

After we break free from the houses the race follows a lovely road enveloped by trees. It gave us respite from the direct sunshine. My phone had said 21C as we started and it was only going to get hotter. (I hate the heat! I might mention that again later, a few times!).

We passed my friends waving in Swinside and made our way up the first horrid little hit past the adventure centre. From here until mile 10 there was no tree cover. That was it….sun sun sun. I had predicted it so hydrated a lot and covered myself in lots of sun cream.

I know this area like the back of my hand and this is one of the reasons I keep coming back and will probably do so next year. The roads are quiet for the first third of the race. Our Scottish dynamo, Allan, then overtook me at the start of THAT hill on mile 5. By then I’d realised I had totally underestimated how crap I was in the sun and gone off too quickly. I love hills….but not hills with no breeze and in this heat. I was struggling and annoyed with myself already. My head always lets me down in these situations and I knew it was going to be a very tough 8 miles from now on. At the top of the hill, there was a big animal trough with fresh water running into it from a stream….in went my head and arms to try to cool down (I hate being hot!). This provided much respite and I sped up for the next mile.

The views opened up with a stunning vista across the water. The problem now was that every walker in the NW lakes seemed to know this too and there were cars and vans parked all over.

The issue of it being an open road race didn’t really bother me last year but because of the long weekend and sun, everyone seemed to have made their way to the side of Catbells. The sun was belting down now and like a newborn baby, I was struggling to control my temperature. Suddenly I saw a mini waterfall and jumped under it…..then Penny passed. This was on 7 miles. I tried to talk myself into following her for as long as I could but I just didn’t have it in me.

The views around were simply stunning though so I just decided to take them in and plod along as best I could. Originally I had a target of 1:45hrs but this was downgraded to 1:50hrs due to the heat.

As mentioned earlier, the organisation for this race is excellent. In total there were 7 water stations (1 of which was put on last minute by a local hotel). These tables were very much needed and I dread to think what would happen if there were fewer. The smiley volunteers must have been sweltering as they greeted us with the cold water (I have no idea how they managed to keep it thus).

As I crossed the final section from Grange to Keswick I was met by someone shouting “Come on Tim, Penny is just ahead of you!!” I have no idea who it was and we all think it was just some friendly chap who had noticed the purple named vests. It did spur me on and although it wasn’t a fast 3 miles along the road to Keswick, I did manage to feel stronger than the previous year. (Being in shade did help).

The final section took us into the town centre and past all the day visitors.

One helpful local lad stood with a hosepipe squirting us all on the final few hundred yards. At this point, I slowed to run with a couple of fellow runners when I heard them say, “I cannot do this anymore. It’s too hot!”.

Unfortunately, by doing this it allowed one of the red/black enemy to pass me with only 200 yards to go. I left it until about 80 yards and left my new found friends and sprinted to overtake the Poly runner. Luckily I took him with 10 yards to go and finished in a sluggish 1:54:38 (6 mins slower than last year).

I was met by a smiling Stuart Scott some 10 hours after his successful Bob Graham Round! Gareth was also there basking in the glory (and sun) of coming second in an amazing 1:21:19.

This is what I love about the Club….regardless of our individual speeds, successes and pace, we all support each other and wear our purple with pride.

Jane finished in a very respectable 2:37hrs in her first proper race of length as an Elvet Strider, shortly after Anna, Catherine and Andrew.

I’ll be back next year. It’s too pretty a route not to….I just hope I get some drizzle next time. I’d love to think that more Elvet Striders could join us!! It’s a fantastic day out.

 

PositionAct TimeSurnameFirst nameCatSex
101.13.30Arthur
Blackburn Harriers
ChrisM
2101.32.38Rich
Steel City Striders
JenniferF
201.21.19PritchardGarethM
7101.42.12RenwickAllanV45M
14501.50.09BrowellPennyV45F
20501.54.38SkeltonTimM
24601.57.44RaynerAndrewM
33102.06.07BradleyJeanV60F
36602.08.53DaviesAndrewV40M
50602.23.06SeeleyAnnaV35F
50702.23.06SmithCatherineV40F
61302.37.05SkeltonJaneV35F
62202.40.11FarnsworthChristineV65F
67802.52.42BrownVickyV35F

Keswick Half Marathon, Keswick, Cumbria, Sunday, April 30, 2017

13.1 miles

Tim Skelton

I love Keswick. It seems to have everything an outdoorsy family would want. I’ve been going there every year since I was born so now my wife and I use any excuse to take our 2 there to explore and be outside. When I saw the Keswick Half Marathon pop up on my Facebook suggested events I was on it in a shot. I know the area very well so that would surely be an advantage?

 

The race was a lovely flat (cough) route starting at the rocky swing bridge at Portinscale. (see elevation image). The route was an anti-clockwise traverse around Derwent water with an added loop in Newlands to get the mileage up to 13.1.

 

We set off at home early doors with the plan to arrive in the centre of Keswick to collect my number for 10:30am. The race started at a very respectable time of 11:30am which was another tick in the box for me. I hate early races! I find the hydration/getting food on board very hard for early morning races. We arrived in good time and had a wander over to the Rugby club who were hosting the race to raise fund for their development teams (they also have an amazing beer festival in June which is fantastic) – the finish line was at the centre of their rugby pitches. There was a slight haze overhead and the sun was shining but there was a biting blustery wind. The race limit was 1000 so I was expecting a good buzz around the club and I was not disappointed. Everyone was wandering around in club colours and “active wear”. Once I collected my number it was time to pass on my Purple hoodie to my wife and go for a nice 1 mile warmup to the start line. This actually worked out really well as it forced everyone into a proper warmup be it a nice walk or run.

 

The start was bang on 11:30am and took everyone through the village of Portinscale which was full of lots of supporting friends and family. There was a great friendly feel about this race which developed over the course. I met the same people throughout as I passed them and they passed me back. Plenty of local and NE club runners were out in force so there was a good air of camaraderie.

 

The first hills came quite quickly and I was met by family in Newlands as I started a nice pacey down hill section…..as we all know about these nice bits though is that they are usually met by something to take you back up again….and after 15mins I was met by one hell of a hill and a very steep ascent. There was little time to strap on my oxygen bottle I had to just go for it. The air by now had warmed up but it was still very blustery in parts. The hill kept on coming as if it was toying with us. It even added in some tight corners to throw us off our stride. By now I was passing quite a few people as I love my hills. I did suspect this might come back and bite me on the bum but I was enjoying myself too much to worry about the latter part of the race. I figured the Lucozade tablets I was carrying would do the trick….as long as I had something left for a sprint finish I didn’t really care.

 

Although this was a road race, it was not closed to traffic. A motorbike decided it wanted to  tootle down the single track road we were on. Shouts of “MOTORBIKE!” cascaded along the line to ensure nobody got squished (although it was only crawling along). Then we hit the 4th and 5th big hill sections…I say this because all in all my Garmin counted about 19 in total. These were massive in terms of the rate of ascent. I got on my tiptoes and pushed on trying to pretends in my head it was only as big as the DLI hill but in reality this was a monster. At the top we were met by smiling families and locals shouting their encouragement, many strangely wearing hats made of flowers (I think this was related to May day the next day).

 

Once on the top the views were simply amazing. Anyone who know the area will love the vista from the side of Catbells looking down onto Borrowdale. The sun was shining through the slight haze and all the peaks were visible. This section was a long downhill aiming to take us into Grange and across onto the main road back up to Keswick. I knew the last 4-5 miles would be tough but I was enjoying the race for the now. I cannot imagine there is a prettier race out there. The views all around were simply stunning and there was plenty of opportunity to take them all in as it was on road and not trail.

 

After we passed through Grange we turned left and we knew it was a long road back up to Keswick. This is the bit I wasn’t really looking forward to as I knew it was a long slow incline with traffic all the way to the finish. In reality it was horrid but everyone seemed to club together at this point with words of encouragement and support. I imagine only the elite runners had good legs after 10 miles so I just had to knuckle down and get on with it….although this is never my strong point. At the 10 mile point there was a shout of “only a parkrun left!” and we all seemed to up out game a tad.

 

The last mile took us into the south side of Keswick and round the rugby club where I knew my family and Neil Sleeman would be waiting. There was no chance of being the first strider home today. After seeing him on the DT20 I knew he’d have finished long ahead of me. I always look forward to the finishes. It is my motivation through much of the latter part of races. Finish strong, take as many people out with my sprint finish as possible. Here I knew I would have the added incentive of my kids and wife being there cheering me on. I rounded the corner and put my food down as soon as I hit the grass. There was a very loud tannoy with a woman shouting encouragement. I managed to stretch my legs and not trip up (always a worry) and pass about 6-7 people in the last 50 yards.

 

Once I caught my breath I was given a really nice white tech tshirt, a banana, bottle of water and some shortbread. All quite decent for the £15 it cost me to enter. A lot cheaper than many of our other local half marathons and 4 times cheaper than the most famous half marathon in the world ™. Excellent value and I cannot recommend this race enough. Yes it is hilly. Yes it hurt my legs but the views and 4-5 water stations made up for that.

 

Well done to Neil (pictured) who finished in an amazing 1:29 and Jean Bradley in 1:53:54.

 

 

 

 

 

Tim Skelton – 198/683 – 1:48:23