The picturesque Kielder landscape framed a weekend of 5 events that left competitors physically drained but surely satisfied.
The Active Northumberland Kielder Events will always be blessed with the sensual sights, sounds and charm of the serene setting. However, when the weather also plays its part, you’ve surely found yourself at one of Britain’s most pleasurable and stimulating places.
Now, pleasurable is not a word you would always associate with the running of a Marathon but surely even the most fatigued of competitor must have let their mind drift. Deviating for a delightful moment towards the captivating countryside they currently found themselves running around.
The two day event began on Saturday with the Run Bike Run event and also a 10k race. The following day, Kielder Marathon, Half Marathon and various junior races provided thousands of runners and spectators with a wonderful reason to get out and see what Northern Europe’s largest man-made lake, Kielder Water, had to offer.
Teviotdale Harriers were represented by Pam Paxton in her 6th Kielder Marathon, whilst Kirsty Hughes, Bruce Hughes, Greg Walker and Michael Yule lined up to tackle the Half Marathon.
Both events set off at the same time but began at different locations. The Marathon, which claims to be Britain’s ‘most beautiful,’ begins at Leaplish Waterside Park and encircles the shore line before finishing back at Leaplish.
The Half Marathon begins at one side of Kielder Dam, heading along to the other before performing a loop that sees runners head back along the Dam having completed the first 4 miles of their race. They then follow the final 9 miles of the Marathon route along the Kielder Keepsake Trail to the Leaplish finish.
With many sights to see and many trails and terrains to navigate, runners were never idle. From the Kielder Columns to Robins Hut, from the Janus Chairs to Freya’s Cabin. ‘Steep inclines/declines’ mixed with ‘tight bends’ kept runners focused and sometimes eager to see what awaited them around the next corner.
Although, when around the next corner was the climb up Bull Crag, it wasn’t always fun!
Water and Isotonic stops were plentiful and much needed on such a warm, still day. Who would have thought in October runners would be so grateful for the shaded spots provided by the tree lined trails they found themselves winding around.
Pam Paxton (4:22:48) completed her Marathon on this testing trail route and finished 263rd of the 627 runners. This run gave her a 10th place in the FV40 category.
As Pam made her way around, the half Marathon runners raced towards the completion of their event.
Kielder Kudos must be given to Greg Walker as he set off with intent from the start. Lying 4th by the end of the Dam, Greg (1:22:23) found himself finishing the race in that same position.
Next to finish in the much commented upon Harriers vest was Bruce Hughes (1:28:33) in 13th place. Michael Yule (1:37:58) finished 72nd overall and 15th MV40. Kirsty Hughes (2:05:32) completed the quartet and came home 364th overall and a credible 32nd FV40 among the 705 Half Marathon runners.
With an abundance of friendly, helpful marshals dotted frequently around the route, once runners had begun they could concentrate on putting one foot in front of the other, from start to finish with no further problems.
In the interests of balance though, the pre-race staging of the parking, with an initial two toilets and bus journey into the start could certainly be slicker. One long line filled with hundreds of runners and spectators with no sight around the corner left many anxious as to whether they would be making the run on time.
Subsequently the start was delayed as runners who had arrived 45 minutes before the event waited for a bus that would transport them to the start line, all be it, not properly warmed up.
Once aboard, the short bus journey did run smoothly and the sight of former World 1500m Champion Steve Cram organising things as you stepped off, quickly eased the tension.
Kielder and all its beauty staged a hugely impressive run and route that left many memories that weren’t just discomfort and tiredness.