I did not know what to expect as I made my way from Newcastle to Kirkley Hall on Sunday morning for the Run Northumberland Big Ten Miler. I hadn’t checked the course in advance. I had only checked the basic logistics: car parking, race number collection point and start time. I didn’t have any ideal time or PB in mind but knew I wanted to run at a good race pace. At 5° celcius, the weather was ideal for this time of year. There was no ice, and the cold morning drizzle had dissipated by the time I gathered with other runners at the start line.
The race took place on beautiful Northumberland country roads, looping round Kirkley Hall, Ogle, Whalton and Belsay. The course was quite hilly but not too brutal. I didn’t find myself walking up any of the gradients, at least. I had planned to run at the threshold of comfort the whole way round the course and managed to do that. Knowing that I could run a half marathon at a sub-9 minute mile pace gave me the confidence to aim for a sub-8.30 minute mile pace. I managed to achieve this. I completed the course i 1 hour 22 minutes and 43 seconds according to my Garmin! My average pace was 8.16 m/m with two sub 8 minute miles (miles 2 and 3)! My 10th mile was quicker than my first. My Garmin stats can be found here and full race results can be found here.
The race was well-organised by Run Nation. It was really well marshalled and water stations appeared at miles 4 & 7. Traffic was minimal but there were strict rules on no headphones and sticking to the left at all times (for obvious safety reasons). Runners looked out for one another, shouting ‘Car!’ way in advance of the vehicle emerging into earshot. Fellow runners were encouraging and there was a jovial, non-competitive feel to the event. By mile 8, I just felt really happy to be running. The light was dappled across the fields and a huddle of cyclists found the plight of our parallel sport amusing, offering banter and supportive words.
I think I got my race fuel right too for this race. I had eaten eggs on toast 2 hours before, a banana 45 minutes before and most importantly of all…a santa jelly baby at mile 7!
At the end of the race, there was a short walk back to the sports centre at Kirkley Hall where we could collect a bright green finisher’s t-shirt (as modelled below – it is now my PJ top!). All in all it was a great race and I will definitely be signing up to more events by Run Nation.