Hundreds brave cold for Lancaster half marathon

Visitor and Guardian reporter Gemma Sherlock (left) with friend Kayleigh Ineson after the race at Lancaster Castle.
Visitor and Guardian reporter Gemma Sherlock (left) with friend Kayleigh Ineson after the race at Lancaster Castle.

Reporter Gemma Sherlock talks about her experiences of running the JWK Lancaster Half Marathon at the weekend.

It was a cold Sunday morning and the scent of bonfires was still in the air as hundreds gathered for the JWK Lancaster half marathon.

As most people were probably still tucked up in bed, I joined the other shivering runners in the cold outside Lancaster Castle.

More than 400 people had signed up to take part in this year’s event on November 6 and I was one of them.

I don’t know what possessed me to do it; the enthusiasm of doing the Great North Run had certainly dwindled.

I found myself craving an answer to my ‘why?’ question as I glanced at the amateur athletes and those braving the cold for their chosen charities.

But as we gathered at the Giant Axe start line the euphoria set in and organisers Lancaster Race Series geared up the crowd.

The 13.1 mile route took us out of Giant Axe onto the cycle track, heading for Crook O’ Lune and beyond.

It seemed ages for that seven-mile marker to pass. I longed for a sign, a glimmer of hope that the route would soon turn back on itself and we would be halfway through. Runner after runner passed me on the opposite side of the cycle track, dodging dog-walkers and families as they took a brisk afternoon walk.

When that halfway point finally arrived so did the first few spots of rain. Volunteers worked hard to clear the empty bottles, thrown hastily by runners.

Each volunteer smiled and clapped; I didn’t see one person who didn’t cheer us on and trust me you needed cheering on by mile 10.

My back was cold with sweat and my legs struggled as the finish line at Lancaster Castle drew near. On top of the gruelling hill I wanted to give in but a female runner behind me wouldn’t have any of it though, and patted me along.

Crowds were waiting within the historic walls, hoping to see their loved ones over the line.

I arrived, finishing at two hours, 10 minutes. Pride replaced ‘why?’

Finishing first was Chris Arthur with a time of one hour, 12 minutes.

Hats off to the 442 runners, Lancaster Race Series, sponsors JWK Solicitors and volunteers.