Okay I think I am finally up to date with my race reviews with my most recent race – the Siglion Sunderland Half Marathon. Sunderland isn’t known to be one of the best places to visit – especially if like me you’re a Newcastle supporter but I entered the Sunderland half marathon for 3 reasons:
- I used to live there so a lot of the route goes back to memories from when I was 7 – 12 (which really took my mind of the race and back to when I was young)
- It was an excuse to go home for the weekend
- I needed a training race before Chester Half Marathon
And to be honest Sunderland did not disappoint – despite a bit of an unusual route Paula Radcliffe was also running the half marathon so it’s safe to say motivation was high!
This was one of my most memorable and best races yet – 1ith around 1500 people taking part I came in third place (female) and 40th overall with the two females before me being Paula Radcliffe and Alyson Dixon. Okay, okay – I know that this was probably their “easy” pace but to even come in and race with these athletes was amazing and I was so so happy on the day, getting to stand on the stage next to Paula and Alyson. I didn’t however beat my personal best with a time of 1:25:24 – so I was 3 seconds off but the course was challenging with strong cold winds and a winding up and downhill course. If you’re thinking about doing the Sunderland Half marathon check out my review below!
COURSE ROUTE & SCENERY: 3.5/5
Okay so unfortunately Sunderland isn’t the nicest city but to be honest scenery wise the route was nice, however it all felt a little repetitive until mile 9.
The race started in Keel Square, where there is a race town and plenty of support with the Sun FM on stage, music and stalls – it then goes through the city centre streets and up towards Grange Town (a steady incline – but definitely some hill work to push through). The route then comes back on itself, back into the city centre and then back out again to grange town – but this time bit further passing backhouse park on the right. Then you follow the course round to go back yet again to the city centre – swear to god I felt like I had run past Wilkinson’s about 5 times in the end. You finally come out of the winding route to the starting line and head straight towards the bridge – once over the bridge you go through Roker park and down to the seafront, eventually heading back across the bridge to the start/finish line.
The route itself had quite a few inclines and although the hills weren’t huge – they certainly did add up and contribute to that lactic acid and muscle fatigue – so it takes some mental battles to keep speed consistent – especially with the strong coastal winds. And whatever goes up – must come down, so with every uphill there was a refreshing downhill, where luckily, I managed to make up some speed downhill by putting some good technique to the test.
The course was quite tedious and repetitive until mile 9, then once you head for the bridge there’s a great change of scenery and the last few miles of the race, although are tough, are pretty enjoyable.
The support was also great in the race with spectators cheering you on – the only other thing I perhaps didn’t like was that the streets in the city centre weren’t cordoned off – so you felt like you might hit a shopper here and there!
Overall organisation was good with plenty of water stations around. Also, worth noting a few years ago the course was actually too short and didn’t count as a half marathon – so this time they had professionals measuring the distances to ensure the race distance was correct.
Baggage collection was easy at the multi storey car park near-by and your race time was text to you within seconds – also I loved the actual race number which was made of a felt material vs paper!
The only thing I’d knock a point off for is the isotonic drinks were in cartons with open tops – hard to drink out of and that the start was 15 – 20 minutes delayed – and on a chilly day with powerful winds you felt each minute. I used a foil from a previous race and looked like an “oven ready” runner.
PB POTENTIAL: 4/5
The winds and hills were challenging so might be tough for some looking to get PBs but having Paula Radcliffe there was enough to motivate me to power on so I’d say with only 3 seconds off my PB – it’s a good race to get a PB.
VALUE FOR MONEY: 5/5
Meeting an Olympic and world record runner – what more could you ask for! At £29 the Sunderland half marathon was excellent value for money with the Sun FM offering entertainment all day long.
Finisher Goodie Bags: 4/5
The bag itself was made of material – always a good thing because you can reuse it! It contained Ritz cracker crisps (AGAIN! Sick of these now), a share size bag of Graze Black Pepper cashew nuts & chickpeas (yummy), a mini bag of Haribo (not big enough 😉) and a large bottle of sun cream. To be honest it would have been great to get some chocolate in their too.
BEGINNER FRIENDLINESS: 5/5
Another good city race for beginners and the Sun FM stage entertainment and mini race town was a warm and welcoming environment if you’re just starting out – plus you could also do the 10K run which started 15 mins before the half marathon race.
OVERALL RATING: 5/5
I got third place and got to meet Paula Radcliffe so this race gets a 5 from me! And to be honest – North East races are the best and friendliest races around 😉 – click here to find out more or enter the Sunderland 10k/half marathon.