Alnwick Harriers Coastal Run race report by Jorge Bronze.
On 18th July I headed up to Northumberland, the county where I was
brought up, to prepare myself for the Alnwick Harrier’s flagship event: The
I’d purchased my entry back in February on a Friday night at 12:02am and
on arriving back post parkrun around 10:30am I checked to see that all 1300
places had already sold out. It is a very popular race.
A little history:
The first ever Beadnell to Alnmouth Race was held 1979, there were only 12
competitors. In the beginning competitors had to choose their route starting
in the sandy bay next to Beadnell Harbour and then head south, running to
Alnmouth. This is approximately 14 miles depending on whether the tide is in
or out. The winning time of the first race was 1 hour 22:30. 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. Nowadays, the course is well established as it makes its way from
Beadnell to Alnmouth using a combination of beach, public footpaths and
The start is at Beadnell Bay. A wonderful little beach, that looks out to
Dunstanburgh Castle and is lined with fishing boats. All runners line up along
the beach with those looking for an advantage standing as close to the North
Sea as possible so that their route along the beach is as short as it can be.
The starting gun is shot and everyone scrambles for position. The sand is
firm but slippery underfoot and there are rocks and piles of seaweed to be
avoided. Within a few minutes, the race is spread out and everyone seems to
hit their rhythm. It’s important to get into the correct pace early so as to not
waste energy whilst running on sand.
The race heads south on the beach for around 1.5 miles before a quick climb
up onto the dunes to the sturdier ground of trail around Newton Links. After
a mile or so of trail we hit the road and pass through Newton By The Sea
where the first water station is located. It seems as if every resident of the
village has come out to cheer and the atmosphere is incredible, with people
whooping and yelling for their friends and family.
The race heads down the road, toward The Ship Inn in Low Newton, and
crosses through a gate back onto the beach. The sand is a bit softer here
compared to Beadnell and has been churned up by the quicker runners, but
less than a mile later we’re off the beach and back onto trail.
The race goes through Dunstan Golf Course and around the bottom of
Dunstanburgh Castle. At this point the course provides the most staggering
of views. I’m looking out from behind the castle toward the coast the scene
is breath taking. Fortunately I catch my breath and carry on toward Craster.
Craster provides similar scenes to Newton, with crowds of people lining the
route, some families even handing out jelly babies! This is the longest stretch
of road the race will see, with about 2 miles of constant road past the Castle
and through Craster. The second water station is on the way out of Craster
and now the race heads back to the trail.
I pass Cullernose Point whilst carefully watching my step to avoid the cliff
edge and then rejoin a road to head through Howick and on toward Boulmer
where the final water station is located. Throwing my bottle into the
collection bin at Foxton I check my watch to see I’ve covered 18.5km at this
point and the race is heading toward the finish. The race cuts onto a small
trail through the dunes and heads back to the beach.
Alnmouth beach is one of the most beautiful, untouched beaches in the
country. But after 19km, its beauty goes a little unappreciated! I can see the
finish line at this point as the beach is totally open and exposed but I’m very
conscious of how far 2km is on tired legs with sand underfoot.
I crossed the line in 1:31:11 in 49th place with 21.3KM covered. The scenes
at the finish are great, with hundreds of spectators lining the finish and all
those out for a day on the beach clearly being drawn in to support. There’s a
great moment when a dad heads for the finish and all four of his young
daughters run out to hold his hands over the finish line.
First male finished in 1:15:42 and first woman crossed the line in 1:29:36.
I’ll certainly be back next year for the next edition of The Coastal Run and I
would highly recommend to anyone who loves running interesting routes
with spectacular views.