By Sumanth Nayak
The Allendale 8 is, despite the name, a 7.7 mile undulating road race through the very picturesque Northumberland countryside. It’s organized by Allendale Striders, one of the friendliest running clubs (after us of course) in the region. The Allendale Fair takes place on the same day.
Typical for a bank holiday weekend, it was a cold and overcast morning with a slight drizzle as Lorna, Dave, and I got a lift from Bill to the race. Not the ideal conditions for a race, let alone a fair. If only the heat wave from the previous week had stuck around for a while longer. As I headed for the race registration, I bumped into one of the spectators at the Marathon of the North who had yelled out “Hey Mr. parkrun man!” to me. It turns out he was one of the marshals for this race! There were only about 150 competitors but lots of familiar faces from local running clubs and parkrun.
The start and finish were in the same place and as I started to warm up, I could see the steep incline to the finish line. I tried to put that out of my mind but I knew I had to pace myself and save something for the finish. The first two miles were relatively flat but from there on, the course started to really undulate. The inclines weren’t too steep or even that long but the regular undulations proved quite energy sapping. The real problem was that the gradual ascents were followed by some really sharp descents which gave me no time to recover. The toughest part of the course was the fourth mile which had one particularly steep climb. Because the field was so small, I was running by myself for most of the race. Despite the horrid weather, I really enjoyed the scenery with the mists surrounding the hills. After six miles, the course descended all the way back into town but not before a short and steep climb to the finish. I had gotten halfway up the slope before I realized the finish was just a few paces away and mustered up some energy for a sprint finish.
After the race, we all gathered in a big tent for the prize giving. Graham Leslie won in his age category and Sarah Bowen and Bill Milbourne won spot prizes. Not a bad day for team Claremont! I would highly recommend this race for anyone that wants a change from the usual dull, flat road races. Certainly not a pb course but very enjoyable nonetheless.