With a limited number of road race opportunities thus far in 2021, myself and a small number of Sportsworlders made a break for the border last weekend to take part in the Antrim Coast Half Marathon. The event promised a fast course, beautiful scenery and good weather to boot so when a spare entry became available(courtesy of the injured Stephen McDonnell), I jumped at the chance.
A few of us stayed at the race event accommodation at the University of Ulster where facilities lived up to their ‘basic’ description. That being said, after some light plumbing work to silence a broken cistern, and some creative engineering of the ‘bedding’ provided, a good nights’ sleep was had.
Race transport left the University at 7.30am which gave us plenty of time to warm up and watch the elite race before our own start time of 9am. Conditions on the morning were perfect with a comfortable temperature, cloud cover and a slight breeze.
The course route started by bringing us through Larne town, before heading out the scenic coast road to Ballycastle , and then looping back into Larne to cross the finish line. Along the route there was a strong and vocal crowd in attendance. To add to the atmosphere, we were treated to a number of live music stations (including a lone bagpiper) who churned out the tunes to keep us moving. In typical novice fashion, I headed out faster than intended but felt comfortable so kept it up while the going was good. As it was a looped course, all Sportsworlders managed to catch a glimpse of each other and shout some much needed encouragement along the way. At 17km my legs began to feel the effects of my earlier enthusiasm, but I managed to close out the race with a 5 minute improvement on my previous PB.
From speaking with the rest of the crew, all had a positive experience with many recording their own PBs. The event was definitely one I will return to next year and would recommend to anyone looking to improve their half-marathon time.