Blue Runnings

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

Butterwick Hospice 10k – Hamsterley Forest

on 26 July 2015

What happened to that lovely run streak I had going at the start of the week?! I had it all planned out…I would run at least 5k every day from Monday to Wednesday, have Thursday off, do a gym session on Friday, have Saturday off, then hit the Butterwick 10k on Sunday. Monday and Tuesday went vaguely according to plan, and then work happened. The machine went bang on Wednesday afternoon and it was after midnight before I left for home, back in the next morning for a full day and I was out like a light almost as soon as I got in the door on Thursday evening. Friday was just me playing catch-up 🙂 So, we arrive at Sunday having only done half the exercise we were expecting and praying for rain so it might be slightly cooler.

Having run at Hamsterley Forest before, I had some inkling of the type of terrain likely to be involved in this run – it was a bit much to hope that it would be along the road at the bottom of the valley and back, and therefore flat, and my inklings were confirmed by one of the Bounders posting on Facebook asking if anyone else was doing this hilly one today…When you’ve spent the last week struggling to run 5k on a flat, 10k of hills is the last thing you want to think about facing, and I know how big and long some of the hills at Hamsterley can be! If I could make it round in one piece, it would however be a good confidence booster to reassure me that even if I finish as roasted as a Sunday lunch chicken, I can get round and break that 5k wall I seem to have put up lately.

We got to Hamsterley Forest in plenty of time to register, and they had something I haven’t seen for a run before – usually the timing chip is on the race number or needs cable-tying to your laces, these were padded ankle bracelets like tracking devices just incase we left the beaten track and tried to take a short-cut so we could win all the things or something…


After an initial reservation or two about the possibility of it being too tight when I started running and causing my foot to fall off mid-stride and all the other perfectly rational thoughts one has when setting off on a run, I completely forgot I was wearing it until I got to the end and they asked me to stick it in the box – so it can’t have been that uncomfortable! Always something new to come across I guess.

I’d been hoping the weather would be true to forecast and rain so I’d have a slim chance of being a bit cooler – it didn’t, but it was at least cool enough to wear a lightweight hoody while loitering around registration, so I figured I’d take that for July! Any single degree reduction in temperature or gram less humidity was very welcome as it meant I’d get an extra few paces before needing to pass out from heat exhaustion! I might even finish! :O I’d also decided to wear my visor – not sure which way benefit would lie in the battle between shading my face V essentially wrapping a band of my head in a jumper.

The run itself started in much the same way as the No Ego one I did – straight up a hill, and then unlike the No Ego one which dropped us promptly back down the hill into the mud, this one went straight up another hill, known by the local Evenwood Road Runners (who did an excellent job of marshalling!) as Everest – and justifiably! We’d gotten off to a good start, but dropped down to a walk after about half a km as it just didn’t seem to stop going up and up and up…we didn’t reach the top of it either as we were fortunately diverted down a pine trail across the hill before we hit a lovely long downhill which J really made the most of and shot off at a sharp pace which lasted until we hit the next hill 😉 You can see from the elevation V pace graph at the end where the hills were and where we slowed down to a walk to attempt to reach the top of them.

Fortunately the second half was much flatter and predominantly downhill so we picked up a much more even pace from somewhere between the 5km and 6km markers. This also meant that we were able to ditch the flies…I like walking through the woods in the summer, listening to the bees and the grasshoppers, looking at the thistles and the clover flowers, but I HATE swarms of flies all round my head and landing on my arms. I spent the first big hill swatting around with a bracken leaf and the second one helicoptering my arms around my head – it was horrible how many things I’d feel myself swatting with every motion. Bleurgh. Bees, wasps and general creepy crawlies going about their daily business do not bother me at all, but I do not like BEING the daily business of bugs – I cannot STAND mosquitoes, and flies are a major nuisance and can really ruin a walk for me. Fortunately, quick as they are and to their credit they covered some serious flight miles today stalking us about, they didn’t keep up when jogging, particularly when we hit an open stretch and the wind assisted in blowing them away from us. I actually enjoyed the second half after this! The first half was fine in the jogging bits, but the walk stretches with our bugs marred it somewhat for me. Seem to have escaped free from bites at least, though while writing this I have an urge to swat around my head just to be sure there’s none here! Rosie the pusskins would probably be on my head batting them frantically and getting in the way if they were though so I think I’m safe…


We got picked up by a couple of the marshalls from the Evenwood Road Runners who had finished their stints on the last 3km and they helped keep us at a slightly quicker and longer running stint with their chatter. Between them they had about 40 years running experience and were well used to chivvying along stragglers! We crossed the finish line near the main reception to Hamsterley Forest to be greeted with cheers from the supporters and a finisher’s pack, bottle of water and banana. We raided the nearby ice-cream van before heading back to the car, which was about 10 mins away at a carpark further down – a good cool down in both respects!

We got changed into clean shirts, socks and shoes at the car, comparing sand and stone stashes from our shoes, then hitting the cafe at the reception for cake before we headed home 🙂 Hamsterley Forest is very very popular with mountain bikers, but the most conspicuous visitors today were the dogs, most specifically about 10-15 St. Bernard’s who had all landed together with their owners! They’re big dogs on their own but they’re very impressive in a big slobbery good-natured group 🙂

The Evenwood Road Runners and Butterwick Hospice know runners – water, bananas, crisps and chocolate on hand for hydration, electrolytes, salt and sugar fixes – and not a gel in sight! We also got a cool running waterbottle – which is excellent as I am without one at the moment, when I went to the Derwent I actually left an open glass beer bottle full of water in the car for afterwards…god knows what anyone seeing me pacing the carpark after my run swigging out of it thought!


It doesn’t actually have a pull up lid or a cap – it’s one solid part with a membrane thing – so it doesn’t let any liquid out until you suck on the top of it – no messing around trying to pull an over-stiff sports cap up with your teeth or leaving it open and sloshing it all over yourself! Just swig whenever you want 🙂

We also got a snazzly little medal on a light blue ribbon which was a nice touch 🙂


Will I be back next year? Not impossible – hills are still a massive nuisance but they don’t inspire the same dread in me that they used to, I’ll get to the top of them one way or another! I wouldn’t like to do a hilly half marathon, or even 10 miles to be honest, but I don’t mind throwing myself the occasional 10k challenge to keep me on my toes as it’s a distance I’m getting pretty comfortable with when I’m not boiling my face off!

This blog post written with help (hindrance) from my glamorous assistant, Bozzkins.



You can download the GPX data for this course from my Dropbox account by clicking the link below:

GPX data on Dropbox


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