Andy Falconer


Kielder Marathon 1st October 2016

5 Oct 2016 | Leave a Comment |

26.2 miles of marathon running in one of the most stunning settings in the UK. 2,000’ of ascent. kielder-4600+ other runners. What better way to spend a Sunday morning.


The Kielder Marathon describes itself as the UK’s most beautiful, and on a cold, bright sunny autumn morning it was hard to disagree. It had been an early start to drive the 2 and a half hours up from York, leaving enough time to catch the shuttle bus fromthe parking area (in a field) to the start area. This is about a 15 minute drive of a few miles and was organised with military precision.


The start area is down by the water and included plenty of toilets and a marquee for dropping off your bag. kielder-3There were a couple of stalls around and a very friendly atmosphere. The announcer on the sound system was in good spirits and had a great sense of humour.


There was a 15 minute delay to the start for some unknown reason then we were off. The first couple of miles are on tarmac and then the remainder of the course is on Forestry Commission hard trails, perfect for running on. I found the first 18 miles to be great – no need to walk up any of the hills as they weren’t too bad. Amazing views all the way around and a very friendly bunch of runners. It felt more like an ultra-marathon in terms of friendliness, rather than the huge city marathons I’ve run.


I had decided to run without gels for the first time, just to see how it would go. This probably added to miles 19-25 being hard work. After crossing the dam and heading back into the forest the terrain really started to kick in and everyone seemed to be power-walking up the hills rather than trying to run them. With a mile to go you can hear the finish line and this spurs you on. A great finishing straight, medal round your neck, straight into the tent to collect goody bag, t-shirt and bag pick up. It’s then a short walk to catch the shuttle bus back to the car park.


There were plenty of water stops and energy drink stops with cheerful volunteers. kielder-1My over-riding memory of the event is the friendliness of if, and the beauty. Whether I’d be saying that if it had been pouting with rain I’m not sure!


I finished in 4 hours 38 mins which I was really happy with given the no-gels strategy and not knowing how training in flat York would prepare me for a hilly marathon.