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Hamsterley Forest Half Marathon

Report by Kim Brown

On Sunday July 21st I headed up to Hamsterley Forest, which is west of Durham, to compete in the Hamsterley Forest Half Marathon. There is a 10K race as well as the half marathon and the races are organised by Run Nation – more of which later.

I paid £27 to compete in the half marathon, which I thought was expensive, as there was no goody bag at the finish. We only received a disappointing medal. T-shirts are available at extra cost and must be ordered in advance. There were 114 runners in the 10K and only 65 in the half marathon.

The start of the race was deep into Hamsterley Forest, but was well signposted from the main road. Both the 10K and half marathon runners start together at 11am, which leaves plenty of time to drive up from Yorkshire!

The whole route is on gravelly, forest tracks through remote feeling woodland. The first 3 miles are tough, being all uphill, which is where the 10K runners fork right and the half marathon runners fork left. the next 3 or so miles are downhill. The route is well signposted and marshalled with 3 or 4 water stations dotted around the course. There is then another tough 3 or so miles uphill again before a pleasant final 3 or so miles downhill to the finish. Occasionally, the views open up to view the surrounding pretty forest, but the route is mainly sheltered by the trees. The area is very popular with mountain biking and I crossed paths with quite a few. In fact one of them nearly took me out!

At the finish, everybody’s name is called out over the speakers as they cross the finish line, which was nice. Myself and Andrew Bell from Elswick runners were really happy to finish in 2nd and 3rd place respectively, but were told at the finish that our prizes had mistakenly been left in London. This was really disappointing as the prize giving is always a special part of a race day, in my opinion. We were told they would be posted to us. This, from my experience, sums up the organisation of Run Nation events. I have run with them in the past and had other bad experiences with them, such as no marshals at a t-junction, to receiving 5K medals for competing in a half marathon! Admittedly these are small problems, but they do leave a bit of a sour taste!

To sum up, this was a lovely route, let down slightly by the organisation. Any fans of remote, trail running will love it.