The Darwen Heritage Half Marathon, organised by the running club Darwen Dashers, is a new fixture on the spring racing calendar in the North West of England.
From the outset it’s worth noting that the course is tough. 1200 ft of climbing is always going to make for an interesting half marathon and interest is exactly what this race delivered. It starts from the Darwen Aldridge Community Academy in the centre of town and from here it moves out to the A666 before beginning the climb south to Green Arms Road. A few undulating miles further on through the picturesque Turton and Edgeworth villages the course then heads back towards Darwen via Roman Road. After a very chilly start the spring sunshine made an appearance and parts of the course were surprisingly warm.
I wanted to run this half in 1:40, which would represent a decent run out on a hilly course without straining too much just seven days out from the Manchester Marathon. This is an average of 7:40 minute miles. The two minutes difference in pace between the fastest mile of 6:48 and a slowest of 8:46 shows just how hilly this course was. I have a lot of running targets, but pace judgement isn’t ordinarily one of them.
Pace difficultly aside, I really enjoyed this event. Running past many of the places that two years ago were part of my daily commute allowed me to reflect on the progress that I have made in that time. Two years ago 1:40 would have broken me, and I’d not only have suffered on that course, but I’d have needed a long time to recover from it too. On Sunday though, with the sun on my face, and the welcoming cheers of a number of people on the course, I really enjoyed running back to Darwen, and was rewarded with a medal and a very friendly ‘well done’ by more representatives of the great Darwen Dashers. I’d highly recommend this to anyone that is thinking of running a half at this time of year. It’s not an easy course, but nothing that’s worthwhile in life ever is.