Blue Runnings

Race Reviews, GPX files and more from North-East England

No Ego Trail Challenge: Otterburn – 10km

on 19 April 2015

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Today was J’s first ever 10km race event – and typically for her she threw herself right in at the deep end with a nice tough one! Getting lost in the dark around Wallington just wasn’t enough of a challenge it would seem! We headed up to Redesdale Forest near Otterburn for the event, starting at the airstrip near the army basecamp. J had butterflies on the way up, so had to be content with a handful of chocolate raisins while I filled my face with orange juice and chocolate chip brioche things (I was so hungry this morning for some reason – I ate four!!!), and then tucked into the chocolate raisins! Obviously, today I was destined to be a huge pig.

There were only 34 runners for the 10km route, with the 10 mile runners having left 30 mins before, so quite a small group compared to some runs we’ve done. I think the Sand Dancers may have pulled quite a few of the club runners away as I believe that one was part of some sort of league thing. Still getting up on the club lingo :S We were at the start line for this one anyway, In our lovely matching pink monstrosity canoe trainers that we’d bought specially for such events!

The No Ego series seem to have a habit of just veering off any sort of path or TRAIL and heading straight off over the countryside – that started about 300 yards in for this one – we left the start line, headed down the road, and were then jumping streams and cutting through pine woods before we hit a rocky road (sans marshmallows), and then left it again to cross the grassy boggy areas in between. Probably about 50% of the route was over this kind of grassy land – I don’t think there was a flat, even foot space anywhere on it. Not exactly running terrain – even walking across here there was a serious risk of a turned ankle – I think even in really sturdy walking boots it would have been tough. I’m really not a fan of this sort of ground – I don’t do well on a cambered road let alone ground that looks like it’s been attacked by 50 generations of moles all at once, it always makes my trainers turn so the sole doesn’t line up with my foot properly any more and I get very…stretched arches? I can’t really think of another way to put it. Not very comfortable anyway. As a result of this, J was quicker than me across this kind of ground – I’d do a short jog if I glimpsed a level bit to catch her up, or reach her when we hit a road stretch again.

The whole route alternated between either grassy or pine-needley bumpy ground, or rock tracks used by the military for bouncing around in big off-road vehicles. One of these grassy sections was along the perimeter of…something, there was a fence there anyway, and it was here that J really made my day. She was leading, so I had a fab view of the most amazing slow motion faceplant in the world ever. First the knees went, then the rest of her toppled forwards leaving her prone on her front in the deep grass with her ankles in the air. 10/10 for decorum. Cue much laughter from both of us. I’d decided not to take my camera – in fact I didn’t take anything at all except my watch and dextrose tablets, it was nice to be unencumbered for a change – but I really really wish I’d taken it for this. It was FANTASTIC.

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We made it round the route in 1:33:50, running the track sections and walking the ankle-breakers, which we’re both really pleased with given the terrain – and we seem to have gotten round mostly injury free. My questionable left foot behaved itself the whole way round, just very tight on both feet afterwards – need to get some tennis balls to help massage them! J’s jippy thigh/hip muscle was twinging about two-thirds of the way round but she was too busy glaring at the runners in front and determined to get to the end to give in to it. Here’s hoping she doesn’t pay for it in the long run! I believe a cold shower was on the cards for when she got home. Not envious of that one…I’ll stick to my tennis balls and icy washing up bowl…

One good thing we both found about this race was our shoes – we’d bought them specifically for the muddy wet races, and they held up excellently. I’d managed to drag the toe of one of mine through a stream when trying to jump over, and it didn’t permeate at all – that Gore-Tex lining really held up! My other lovely airy breathable shoes result in wet socks at the sight of a puddle – not great for mud races! Even through the boggy bits, dry socks – fabulous. Being something of a doofus, I managed to get my whole foot suckered into one muddy bog bit so got a bit wet around the top, and if it had been any more to the water side of the mud mix I may have had slightly swamped shoes, but on the whole this was a welcome change to the one at Hamsterly – which to be fair was wetter anyway – which may have been a little less soggy if I’d been wearing pink! Our shoes are not quite the same colour they were when we started, and we picked up enough mud to start a small pig sty.

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Our friend X lives in Otterburn, so was at the finish waving and cheering – J knew we were meeting her afterwards, but didn’t realise she’d also be at the finish line so was too absorbed in getting across the line to realise who I was waving at (I had been waving at the marshalls at the water stations from quite a distance too) or realise that the cheering as she crossed the line was for her! The concentration on the last bank up (so much for downhill all the way to the end) was intense 😛

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Definitely a well earned new shirt to add to the collection and a fantastic achievement for J – that 10km at Sunderland in 2 weeks is going to be a walk in the park in comparison! Fingers crossed for a new pb for her on that one. As it happened, this one was only 8 mins slower than her first 10k attempt – and that was on flat, decent footpaths, so a fantastic achievement given the terrain!

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One of the things that had been pushing us round, was the prospect of a good lunch afterwards, so after we’d changed out of our grotty not-fit-for-public-consumption clothes, we followed X to the Redesdale Arms (known by the locals as the First & Last) for an excellent cheese and onion quiche with yummy chips and green stuff. We even had one each! After the enormous portions, we couldn’t quite face pudding there, though there were many tempting offerings, and headed back to X’s house – where we DID fill our faces with pudding! Homemade pecan chocolate cake and lemon drizzle cake. Nomnomnomnomnom. More being a pig for me! Definitely invading again 😉 (I ate SO much food today…) We chilled out and watched the lambs and the birds while we caught up with X, both of us sinking slowly into the sofa as we realised how tiring we’d found the route this morning, and finally tore ourselves away to make the drive back to J’s house to get my car, and then I headed home to mine.

I enjoyed the day overall, but I do think that was mainly down to the company. I’ve done three of the No Ego races now, and I’ve come to the conclusion that they’re really not for me. When I sign up for a run, I like to be able to run rather than worrying about turning my ankle as I creep across uneven ground; today could have been a perfectly nice route for me just heading out through the forest on the rough vehicle trails and a few footpaths. The No Ego team obviously have a demographic they’re aiming for, and while I’ve loved some of the locations they’ve taken me, I don’t think I sit in that group and probably won’t do any of their events next year, they’re just not really my cup of tea. We’ll see how I feel by the time cross-country season comes around with the Bounders in the winter!

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A massive well done to J for her first 10km race achievement – wear that T-shirt and hoody with pride, and we’ll paste the next one at Sunderland!

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You can download the GPX data from my Dropbox account by following the link below:

GPX data on Dropbox

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