Blue Runnings

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

Run Nation – Cragside 10k 2017

on 2 April 2017

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Well, that’s officially my first race event of the year done (excluding cross-country at Herrington in January)! It’s bang-on 5 months since my last race at Sunderland for the People’s Run 2 Remember last November.

I made the decision a few weeks ago not to do the Trail Outlaws Dark Skies Half Marathon last weekend, as my stamina just wasn’t up to 14 miles and I knew they had a waiting list so I wanted to give someone else the opportunity rather than just deciding not to go on the day. It looks like everyone had a great time, and the weather was a lot kinder than last time I was there, but I think I made the right call for me – I need to work on my 10k game for the moment.

With the Cragside 10k being the week after Dark Skies this year, I hadn’t signed up incase my legs weren’t working after the half marathon, but clearing that from my diary meant this was an option again. I really enjoyed it last year – I was in a really good headspace where I was just going for training run in a fantastic setting and not going for a time; just determined to chill out and enjoy running somewhere I wouldn’t normally – a feeling I was really hoping to replicate this year.

Map

We got there about 08:30, and were probably in the last 15 mins not to be crammed in. After picking up my number, P went back to the car to get my visor for me while I went for the compulsory pre-race pee (!) and said it was chaos. We’d overheard one of the race organisers saying it was busy last year and they had an extra 100 runners this year so it was going to be incredibly tight. Personally, not sure why if you know you’re that tight on parking you take on another 100 people without maybe having a parking backup and shuttle buses or something but I am fortunately not in the position of having to make decisions like that 🙂 If you’re looking at doing this race next year – get there early and carshare if possible to avoid a headache. I got there for number pick-up opening time (about 8am) last year and breezed in – we were about 08:30 ish this morning and it was definitely getting busy. Race start time isn’t until 09:30 so it can be easy to be deceived into thinking you’ve got ages!

As with last year, the start line’s quite a walk from the finish/number collection area – about 1.5k if you’re going to the back of the runners like yours truly! A good warm-up as long as 10k isn’t your absolute limit distance and you’re likely to pass out as soon as you hit it – it’s an uphill walk all the way to the start! Both P and I were definitely warm when we got there and P was very quickly the proud holder of my hoody. He has been promised many boyfriend points for both accompanying me this morning AND for walking ALL the way UPHILL to the start with me before 09:30 on a Saturday morning. He’s a keeper 😉 Even if he did grumble a bit 😛

The first few km’s of this race are very friendly – downhill or very gently undulating, just like I’d remembered it from last year. You follow the estate drive for the whole route so from the start you come down to the lowest point of the route (which will also be the finish when you’ve done the loop!) and past the lake in the valley, past the main visitor centre and through the carpark to the house itself – which you actually run through via a large archway. I do love the building styles and scenery at Cragside and it’s a great opening to a race.

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Once you leave the house behind, your only company will be gigantic pine trees, rhododendrons (sadly not in flower at this time of year) and massive boulders. Oh yeah, and hills. Or rather, one very long varying gradient incline… There’s been a few very small ups and downs up until about the 4km mark but I wouldn’t really describe it as more than ‘undulating’ to this point. From about 4km to 8km is uphill in varying gradients for the entire distance – starting with steep.

Elevation

Assuming my GPS is accurate, I went from 375ft at the bottom up to 750ft by the time I reached the top :O Knowing that we’d started before the 9km marker, and it was definitely going to be downhill still for at least a while before hitting that point as the start line was not at the top of a hill, I had this faint bubble of optimism that there would be a flat or downhill bit coming soon, but that’s not a huge amount of help when you’ve just past the 6km marker and you’ve still got something of a way to go before getting to the bit you know is downhill. There’s a bit of a breather where it flattens out round one of the lakes at the top but that’s about all the breather you get until the 8km marker. After that it’s blessedly downhill (unless you have knee problems and don’t like downhill!) pretty much the whole way to the finish, where I was gifted with a medal, water and cereal bar. There is the option for t-shirts for the Run Nation series, but you have to buy them in addition to your entry fee and I have millions of running t-shirts already so do NOT need to buy any more!

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I did manage to make it round the whole thing without walking – I confess to probably jogging at not far off walking speed on some of the steeper uphill bits – and in approximately the time I was hoping for despite having forgotten quite how tough the middle stretch was. I was pretty pleased with my pace for the first half – around 10:30-11min/mile – and was able to get back to the 10:30 mark for the last 2km despite having spent 4k climbing hills with little relief, but I was slower for the climb by a few minutes. I must have been less hill-bothered last time I did it (as is also evident in my time – I was 5 mins quicker last time) but I’m still pleased with how I did given where I am at the moment. Maybe all those bounce classes are helping 🙂 I certainly thought I sounded a lot less struggling-to-breathe than some of my fellow back-of-packers for the same pace. Maybe I’ll push myself a bit more for the Tyneside 10k in a fortnight 😉

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The GPX file for this race is available on dropbox below:

Run Nation Cragside 10k GPX File

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