Following the 2016 Great North Run, I was keen to set a pattern of running two half marathons a year – one in the spring and one in the autumn. With the exception of spring 2018 (a heady era of moving house in the middle of the Beast from the East and not running very much… so I did two in autumn 2018 instead!), I have managed to stick to this pattern, even during the pandemic; my most recent half was the Virtual Great North Run in September 2020 and my next will be the Virtual Edinburgh Half Marathon in May 2021.
I had liked the atmosphere of the Sunderland 10k the previous year, and Geth wanted to do it for his first 10k race, so I signed up for the half marathon distance and started training in earnest for it that winter. My training paid off and I took 38 minutes and 14 seconds off my GNR time, bringing me closer to the three-hour mark; I also managed to run the whole way without any walk breaks, which always feels like an important achievement.
I’m glad I did the half marathon distance at Sunderland once, but I’ve always stuck to the 10k distance since and will continue to do so in future. The first half of the half marathon route goes through a fairly dull part of Sunderland and it’s difficult to get your bearings, while the second half is the same route as the 10k, which has lots of interesting things to see. It’s also a relatively flat course that provides a great opportunity for a 10k PB once a year, and I don’t like to miss out on that.
The event is scheduled to go ahead in a COVID-safe way in June. I’m really looking forward to it!