Northumberland Coastal run

[Sun 17th Jul] 


For the first time in many years, the Coastal Run was not included in this year’s club Grand Prix.  No doubt this was the main reason that there were only about half (13) of the usual number of entries from Blyth, although the need to remember (and bother?) to enter online on a cold Saturday in January will not have helped!  There were also quite a few no-shows this year – only two thirds of those entered managed to finish, no doubt not helped by the weather forecast for rain - and plenty of it.

Sure enough, we all woke on Sunday morning to the sound of rain lashing against the windows (and in one case to the sound of a phone ringing to announce that another Blyth member was not fancying it any more!).  It rained all the way up to Beadnell as well, but miraculously stopped just as we arrived.  Thanks to Iain’s efforts, we all had our numbers and timing chips without having to queue for them and inspection of the beach showed that – as predicted – the tide was right out.  Good news for anyone after a good time, as that meant that the course was going to be quite a bit shorter this year than last.

Suddenly it was time to start, and quite a lot of runners were taken by surprise, as was the photographer who suddenly found several hundred runners coming at him and couldn’t get out of the way.  He was last seen picking himself back up and dusting himself down after several runners had taken the shortest route over him!

Not only had it dried up in time for the race but it was actually positively warm and with a noticeable head wind as well.  All proceeded well, with Blyth packing well towards the middle for the most part, until we got to the southern end of Embleton Sands, where the rocky section (leading towards the path past Dunstanburgh) proved even more of an obstacle than usual – quite a few of us just ground to a complete stop as we tried to pick our way through without crashing over on the wet boulders.

The run continued on its well-established route with good progress from all our runners as those (from other clubs) not familiar with this event suffered from going off too fast.  The course was really muddy in a few places but the popular course of action from the hardy souls in green-and-white was just to go straight through the muddy puddles, even if one of us got a bit too ambitious and came crashing to earth (clue: he was the last Blyth runner to finish, as explained by his blooded knee).

The last two miles along Alnmouth beach were as tough as ever but it stayed dry right up to the point when all of the Blyth runners had finished.  Good timing – the predicted thunderstorm arrived at 12:45 and ten minutes later everything was drenched (not least the runners near the baggage bus).  It was time to cancel the picnic on the beach and give the prize giving at the Red Lion a miss.

A good time was had by all in this most scenic of events organised by our good neighbours at Alnwick Harriers.  There were 807 finishers (from around 1200 entries).  Our runners were placed as follows: -





David Bradley



Suzanne Hunter



Iain Singer



Steve Dobby



David Roberts



Julie Lemin



Phillippa Baxter



Stephen Nendick



Davina Lonsdale



Adele Lonsdale



Keith Willshire


Dave R


The first ever Beadnell to Alnmouth Race was held 1979, there were only 12 competitors, before this it had been a training run for Archie Jenkins and a group of runners. In the beginning competitors had to choose their route starting in the sandy bay next to Beadnell Harbour and then heading south running to Alnmouth (approximately 14 miles).

In the first two to three years many changes were made to the route as runners found the short cuts and quickest routes. Apart from one or two sensitive areas the course is unmarked and competitors are responsible for choosing their own route. The course is however, now well established as it makes its way from Beadnell to Alnmouth using public footpaths and roadways. The course which most competitors choose to run is approximately 14 miles long (depending on whether the tide is in or out) and makes its way as follows:

Start at Beadnell Bay and head South via Newton Links, Low Newton By The Sea, Dunstan Golf Course, Dunstanburgh Castle, Craster Village, The Heughs, Cullernose Point, Howick (Sea Houses Farm), Sugar Sands, Boulmer, Foxton Beach, and finishes on the beach at Alnmouth.

Having ran this race the previously I was aware of the demands that this course presented, running on sand, coastal paths (mud, grass, rocks or hardcore) and road so selecting the correct footwear is the first important hurdle. After the atrocious weather experienced in Alnwick on the Saturday  I thought  the worse for Sunday but upon arriving at Beadnell the rain had ceased and apart from a strong head wind the conditions were perfect. I was actually quite early as I thought it was a 10 o’clock start and it wasn’t until I bumped into Steve Dobby that I realized it was a 10:30start.. For the start, the runners line up in an extended line from the sand dunes down to the sea front, jockeying for the most advantageous position, on this occasion not all runners heard the count-down and many were caught off-guard when the hooter went off to signal the start – I was one of these as Dave Bradley and I were still talking when we saw the mass crowd disappear. Now I thought that I had reached my low points in my running during the previous twelve months (Announcer wishing everybody a safe journey home when I still had half a lap to go at the NE X Country Champs, Marshalls looking at their watches as I went past, marshals dismantling the course as I started my last lap, not being good enough to be picked for the Good Friday Relays) but my nadir was still to come – having skillfully negotiated the rocks as Embleton Bay, managing to keep my feet on the slippy cliff paths, I managed to fall over into a puddle on  a flat track – this was just after I told a runner “That you get just as wet and muddy tippy tappying around the puddles as you do going straight through them” .  However on the plus side I managed to finish before the thunder/lightening and heavy rain came.

The scenery is truly breath taking and I would advise all our new members to consider this race within their racing calendar for next year as although a tough course it certainly is an experience that very few other races provide.


PS: This race is always popular and entries were full after one week in January/February (1200 limit) BUT there were ‘only’ 807 finishers so just under 400 people didn’t turn up.