On a Friday night (the 11th of March to be exact) it dawned on me that I had only 1 week until my first half marathon of the year. Having forgotten what it felt like to race I immediately panicked thinking – “what if I’m not prepared?”. Now physically I didn’t think I needed to prepare but having not raced since October it was the race mentality I was lacking. So, like any impulsive race seeking runner, I turned to google for “races near me” and was returned with The Leeds -Liverpool Canal half marathon. The half marathon was named “The Canal Canter” and was organised by a relatively new company – “Its Grim Up North”. Immediately emailed the organisers begging for a place in the race due to start at 9:30am the next morning – and as luck would have it, I was in!

Now having complete my usual no rest for the wicked training routine and skipping rest day I wasn’t hoping for any personal bests, merely something to remind be of the feeling to race before my upcoming pb attempt at Wilmslow. Well the lack of thought and time to overthink must have helped because I managed to bag 1st lady and 6th overall with a time of 1:25:32. The next Canal Canter is in July which after a lovely day I will be signing up to – if you’re considering a nice, friendly and quick race I recommend the Canal Canter and have a summary race review below:

Leeds Liverpool Half Marathon Jenny Watt

COURSE ROUTE & SCENERY: 4/5

Luckily it was a nice Saturday morning for March with a relatively simple route to follow.  – 3.5 mile to the right of the starting line to the first water station, then a quick turnaround to come back, past the starting line and 3 miles in the opposite direction. Once at the final water station runners went back on themselves again heading straight back to the start/finishing line.

The course was relatively flat straight along the canal with some lovely views – although that’s not to say the 6 – 7 hills/bridge ramps in each direction were not challenging.

For me personally, I enjoy courses that come back on the same route as there is something in my mind where I get mental reassurance of coming back the same way – something that tells me I’ll get to the end and know exactly what’s coming and how much energy I need for pacing. Plus, passing other runners is always a motivating factor, providing cheers and shouts for others and getting the same support back.

PB POTENTIAL: 4/5

Now as a relatively small race with a flat and easy course route this course would have gotten a 5/5 for PB potential if it wasn’t for two minor factors:

  1. As a small locally organised race this meant dog walkers and cyclists were all around the route meaning it was often a game of dodging the people – a dangerous game if you’re a speedy runner looking for a PB.
  2. The water at the race stations on the course were in plastic cups. Unfortunately, this means you wear your water vs actually manage to drink any. think id of had more chance of catching raindrops in my mouth – this isn’t too much of an issue if you’re running at a moderate pace but for me it meant dealing with the dehydration. Not a huge issue but one where bottle water may have just made that slight difference.

ORGANISATION: 4/5

The only reason I would knock this rating is the organisation was rather manual as the organiser are a small group, so some queuing to start, standing around at the beginning, water in plastic cups and a timing method of a stop watch to record your number and time – not the most accurate.

VALUE FOR MONEY: 4/5

The race cost £19 to enter if you’re with a running club and I managed to pay on the day – standard price really and although the goodie bags were minimal the tent full of homemade bakes was something to enjoy and look forward to.

Placing Prizes:

Coming in first place was quite thrilling (even if it was a small race) and as a first lady finisher I received a cute little trophy. If you’re looking for cash rewards then this race won’t be the one for you but I was quite content with my little trophy and medal.

Not only that but the HUGE tent of homemade cake waiting at the finish line was a great finishing prize for all the runners and trust me the killer chocolate cake was a prize to remember!

Finisher Goodie Bags: 2/5

The goodie bags for the half marathon were pretty small with a bottle of ale and a snickers.

BEGINNER FRIENDLINESS: 5/5

This is probably one of the friendliest local races you’ll find – the organisers of the event were lovely and very beginner friendly and welcoming.

The actual racers at the front could have been a little bit friendlier and encouraging to others – whilst I cheered people on I was the only one at the front who took the time to smile – I chatted with a lady following the event – this was her first ever race and although she did the 10k, she mentioned being very intimidated by the runners at the front of the half marathon. But I can’t fault the organisers as they were just lovely.

OVERALL RATING: 4/5

Overall lovely scenery on a fast, easy to follow, flat course, great organisers, friendly environment and great enjoyable race!

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