Having a fairly free weekend for once, I decided that I would swap my early Saturday morning parkrun for an early Sunday morning instead and do the Run Northumberland 10K at Kirkley Hall. This is a new event in the Run Northumberland series and I hadn’t been to Kirkley Hall for a long time so I thought it might be interesting.
Having arrived fairly early and got my number, I was looking around for faces I recognised but couldn’t find anybody. I was the only Claremonter there but eventually I spotted Paul Davison, a parkrun regular who used to teach my sons, so Paul and I jogged down the drive to what we thought was the start, at the main entrance to the grounds. In fact, they were just assembling the runners there before walking us about 300 metres to the actual start line on the road!
The run is entirely on roads that are not closed to traffic but they are pretty quiet. It starts with a short downhill and then is gently undulating until about 3K. From 3K on it started to climb, not steeply but steadily and the small field began to spread out. Just after the 4K marker we turned right onto a narrower, even quieter road. By now I was a fair distance behind the group in front and, as I looked back around the corner, I realised that I had a big lead over the group behind, so I was effectively running on my own. We carried on with a slow but steady climb past the water station at 5K where a glance at my watch showed 20:19, only 3 seconds behind my last parkrun time. I felt fine and convinced myself that, as we seemed to be climbing still, we must have a nice downhill bit in the second half of the course. So my first disappointment came at the 6K marker when I suddenly heard some heavy breathing behind me and realised that I had been caught and was about to be overtaken. Never mind, keep on going, we’ll stop this gentle but steady climb soon! The 8K marker comes, still mainly going up, in the lovely village of Ogle where I was overtaken again – what happened to my big lead! – just before a left turn and a welcome fast downhill stretch where I regained my lead over my new rival. My joy was short lived as we then had perhaps the steepest climb of the course (or it could just be that I was knackered) and he took me again. I was still hopeful of catching him if we had another downhill but it wasn’t to be, though I did take another runner to finally finish in 11th place out of 73 finishers.
I was fairly happy with my time of 41:27, not my fastest 5K but I don’t think it is the quickest course and I had been struggling since having a good run in the Blaydon. I still don’t think that I know how to pace myself over 10K and will never get the hang of this negative-split lark.
I don’t know if this run is to become an annual event. It was a very low-key, laid back event with no great atmosphere but it is fairly scenic as 10K road races go and not to far from home, so I think that I would do it again.