Many thanks to Ed for the following article. Looks and sounds a tough one so congratulations from all at Helsby…
I did the Keswick Half Marathon this weekend. As it’s on the Bank Holiday weekend, it’s perfect for combining with a camping trip to Keswick, which leaves just a short jog to the start on the day, and a short stagger back to the tent afterwards.
The organisers claim it’s “probably the most scenic 13 miles 192.5 yards in the country”. It’s certainly beautiful. For those who know the area, you start from Portinscale just outside Keswick and run through Swinside into the Newlands Valley, which you loop round before hooking back around the bottom of Cat Bells to start the circuit of Derwent Water. The floods and bridge damage apparently meant a route change this year, which meant more miles in the valley and hence more hills.
The first six miles through Swinside and Newlands Valley really justified the organisers claims as it was a very scenic, and quiet, part of the Lakes, which made up for the suffering I was going through to some extent. The fast descents on hard tarmac proved to be as punishing as the ascents, and meant my legs were a bit jellified by the time we came round the bottom of Cat Bells and started the circuit of the Water towards the village of Borrowdale. These next three miles were also on fairly quiet roads and mostly downhill, so proved a welcome respite, with plenty of walkers giving vocal support.
From Borrowdale it’s then a four and a half mile run along the B5289 back into Keswick. This road is a lot busier than the other roads in the race, especially on a Bank Holiday weekend, so anyone after scenery would be disappointed by this part. But probably not as disappointed as the caravanners we were holding up. I had no interest in the scenery by this stage. My legs had been battered into submission by the ups and downs of the first part of the race and the last few miles became a grim battle not to stop or lose too many places.
I finished in 1h 39m 07s, comfortably my worst half-marathon time (Four Villages was 1h 31m for me), and the suffering I went through in the last four miles did leave me feeling disappointed with my performance, but the results showed me to be 117th out of 569 finishers, and the winner took 1h 15m 43s (compared with 1h 5m for the Four Villages winner) so probably not as bad as I thought.
Overall a very scenic run, only slightly spoiled by the final run along the busier B5289, definitely recommended if you’re camping up there on the bank holiday weekend, but not an easy one by any stretch of the imagination.
For more details on this Half Marathon please see the following link: