Blackpool Marathon April 2023

James headed south to take on the Blackpool marathon (& fish suppers)

Trams, illuminations, rock, the tower are just some of the things Blackpool is known for.   So it was a surprise to learn about the existence of the Blackpool marathon from a fellow harrier when I was looking for an alternative to the London marathon.

The marathon is part of the Blackpool Festival of Running held by the Fylde Coast Runners.  On the Saturday they hold 2km, 5km and 10km races.  On Sunday, the half marathon and marathon start at the same time.  Marathon runners face the tower and the half marathon runners have their backs to the tower.

I arrived on the Friday and my wife and I took a walk to the start line.  Every 10 yards there is a Traditional Fish & Chip restaurant (anyone ever tried non-traditional fish & chips?), an ice cream stall or a doughnut stall.  If I wasn’t running a marathon on Sunday I would have wired right in.  Then the horrific thought of running 26 miles with the smell of fish & chips and doughnuts hit me. 

In my mind Blackpool is a mile long so just booked any old hotel.  Turns out my hotel near the south pier was a parkrun away from the start line beyond the north pier.  That was the warm up sorted.

The start (and finish line) is on the promenade middle walkway across from the Imperial Hotel just along from the scene of a horrific tram accident in 1989 which resulted in the death of Weatherfield resident Alan Bradley.  R.I.P. Alan.

I arrived at the start line on Sunday morning having spent Saturday avoiding fish suppers and doughnuts.  The race is a 2 lap marathon and the promenade is closed to traffic.  I settled into a steady comfortable pace as we set off towards the airport beyond the south pier.  Luckily most places were closed so the stench of fish & chips was thankfully absent.  A loop just before the airport and then back up towards the north pier which involves a slight incline just before the tower.  On the road you pass the Imperial Hotel just above the walkway where the start and finish line is and continue out toward Little Bispham. At Little Bipsham you turn back onto the walkway towards the finish line.  At 12 miles marathon runners need to take the left lane back up onto the road to avoid the half marathon finish.  I managed the half in around 1 hour 50 and felt strong going into the second half.  At 2 hrs 5 minutes as I headed down towards the south pier I passed the eventual winner going in the opposite direction.  One of the drawbacks of a 2-lap race.  However the 2 lap format and tram line along the route made it easy for my wife to pop up at various locations to cheer me on which was a great help.  I managed to get to the 20 mile mark in around 2 hours 47 minutes.  Around this point the legs got heavier and my pace slowed a wee bit, but I manged to keep it steady.  With around 4.5 km left I heard the immortal line from a fella sitting on a bench “just under a parkrun to go”.  With a couple of miles left I was checking the watch willing the finish line to come sooner.  At that point a couple of ladies just out for a run got chatting to me and another fella which made the next mile and half pass quicker.  They left me to go up a wee steep hill up towards a nice flat finish.  I headed towards the finish line were my wife Elizabeth was there to cheer me on.  I managed to finish my first marathon in 3:47.  My goal was under 4 hours and I was delighted to have achieved it.  My next goal was a fish supper and a few pints which I also achieved. 

This was a well organised race and I would recommend it. 


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