Bloody hell Larry, small world! Well done on knocking 8 minutes off. I'd agree with the sand being the worst part. As it was my first half-marathon in a race (done plenty of 10, 11, 12 and even the odd 14 miler in training but only as long, slow runs), a mate of mine helped me pace it.
I started flagging a bit at the top of the hill but got back quickly then the sand on the way back was worse IMO so I'm inclined to agree with you. My pacer was telling me to hang on in and I remember saying I thought I'd be fine as soon as we got off the loose stuff (the none-too-tightly packed gravel afterwards wasn't much better either, but there wasn't much of it). Turned out I was right, as my last mile was the quickest one on the flat.
What did you think of the Castle? I thought it was very nice - quite stylish and whilst the food was expensive it was rather good too.
That was my first half marathon - and my word, I absolutely loved it. I guess we got very lucky with the weather - it was glorious and the sea views were almost as breathtaking as running up the Orme (or that sandy stretch on the cycle paths).
Thoroughly enjoyed it and I did chuckle at the band playing "Run, Rabbit, Run" after about 3km as the orange wave went past.
Apologies to anyone in the white wave who got splashed or hit by a tenderly lobbed water bottle from the other side of the road. That may well have been me.
Surface on the inward half seemed a little rough in places, especially around 6km. Finish was quite tough - it seemed like there were three small hills. I knew it was a steep uphill finish having mapped it on MapMyRun but for some reason I thought there were only two hills instead of three. Still, a new PB of 45:20 wasn't to be sniffed at.
The Bolton one is a pretty awkward but fun course at Leverhulme Park. It's got about five different surfaces (track, rough tarmac, smooth tarmac, compacted earth and off-road) and as soon as you leave the athletics track you go every which way - up, down, left, right...and even on the "out and back" section there's a slight hill in it which can catch out the unwary runner.
You do have a rather bothersome climb to deal with on the southern loop - twice! The second time is in the last kilometre then you've got a flat but twisty section on smoother then rougher tarmac before sharply turning onto the track.