Pier to Pier 15k
I imagine that Ron McAndrew the organiser of the Pier to Pier 15K was a bit concerned for this race when the Fleetwood Pier burned down in September. The race between Blackpool North Pier and Fleetwood Pier would be missing a landmark at its finish at this running of the event but that was nothing to stop the event from happening. It was a little awkward though telling people I was running the Pier to Pier race when that wasn't strictly an accurate description any longer.
In fact it was probably the news surrounding the Fleetwood fire that made up my mind to enter the race. I'd been aware of the race and thought that a seaside run was a nice idea, but I wasn't sure the race would be for me, perhaps put off by the slightly unconventional distance of 15k (9.3 miles) seeing as I'd never run that distance before, although its not far off 10 miles. Nevertheless I was enthusiastic about the event, the setting and slightly nervous about the new distance and new challenge.
Because the race was from point to point that rather than a lap course like usual this raised a few issues, one of which being the race HQ, which was at the finish in Fleetwood, so anyone registering late or storing baggage would have to go Fleetwood before going to Blackpool for the start. I thought this was rather strange, even though there was a free shuttle bus for taking runners to the start. I wondered perhaps couldn't they have had the HQ at the start and then during the course of the race taken baggage and things by van and set up at the finish.
I didn't take a bag so that I didn't have any need to go to Fleetwood before the start and I could go straight to Blackpool North Pier. I'd been expecting colder weather than there was, partly because of the misty morning we'd had in the North-West, so I came with long sleeves, which weren't necessary. There was also less wind than I had come to expect from my previous trips to Blackpool.
There was a little confusion at the start because the race went in the other direction initially from the way everyone had lined up, as there was a small 1.5 lap around the promenade before getting on the way to Fleetwood.
I wasn't too sure of how to pace my race but I feel that I went off a bit quicker than planned, which I seem to always do, with the first mile in about 6 minutes and 15 seconds. I slowed a bit initially after that but not too much.
I had thought that running along by the sea would be nice and it was for a while. Visibility was improving and the rippling water in the distance was pleasant coupled with the soothing sounds of the waves on the shore. Of course the scenery doesn't change much at all and there was a hint of tedium at some stages of the run.
I had heard that the route would be marked in miles and there would be 5k and 10k markers too, but these markers were nowhere to be seen.
Around 4.5 miles the route departed from the seafront and went inland a bit, firstly up a small bank and then through a park and round a few streets before getting back to the seafront. That was the only deviation in the route.
Shortly after that I was passed by two runners. The field was really spread out so this didn't happen very much. A little while later I took back one of those places but after that there was no overtaking for the rest of the race, which was still a long time. The runner in front of me was quite a way off and only getting further. Soon I couldn't always see him if there was a bend in the route, but mostly I could see him in the distance. The runners behind me were certainly closer but not particularly close at all. At times it felt I was running completely on my own, almost resembling a training run, which is a bit worrying in a race situation.
My pace resembled 10k pace, slightly slower, so I was fine to 6 miles running like that, but the was still another 5k after that, and that was quite a bit harder, and it was difficult to go as hard as that for further so I lost a bit of time in the final third.
With no Pier to look out for it was a little hard to see the finish coming and it seemed for a while that it would never come. I was hoping to finish as near to 1 hour as possible and I finished in 1:02:51 which was near what I was expecting to do, maybe a little better.
There had only been one drinks station on the route but that was made up for at the end of the race where they had plenty of water and every flavour of Lucozade sport. Also there were bananas, Jaffa cakes, Kitkats and these fruit bars that I like called School Bars.
In addition to that there was a t-shirt for all runners. It was a basic white t-shirt but I liked that the where it said on it Pier to Pier the second 'Pier' had flames drawn out of it, and underneath it said Blackpool Pier - Fleetwood Pier but Fleetwood Pier had been crossed out.
I wasn't sure how I was going to get back to Blackpool, I was thinking about getting the tram, but I was able to get a lift back from a veteran couple that Ron knew. They were very nice and helpful and there were many friendly people that I met before and after the race that made it a pleasant experience.
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