Bamburgh 10k

Jenny Hoyle writes... Bamburgh has been a frequent summer holiday location for my mum’s family since my grandfather discovered it in the fifties, and being only two and a half hours drive from Glasgow, there’s scope to get there and back in a day.

As soon as mum realised there was a 10k race in Bamburgh, we were watching like hawks for the confirmed date to get ourselves entered, as such a beautiful and popular location was bound to see the race filling up quickly. The plan was to incorporate the race into a family holiday, but due to a last minute change in the provisional date from the 19th to the 12th June, and an immovable holiday cottage booking for the following week, we decided to head down for one night and come back up the next day, after the race. We roped-in my brother Ewan to compete in his first 10k and not just so that he would do the driving.

I was a woman on a mission. This was my third of four 10k races in four consecutive weekends and I had my sights set on a personal best, but more than that, I wanted to chip away at my personal target of reducing my 10k time by ten minutes in ten months. Since my very first at the Great Scottish run in October 2015 I had gotten my time down by over nine minutes. This meant I was aiming towards 50:30 by early August, but I had not gotten close to my 51:17 best time since March and I had a lot of niggly bits; hips to ankles, from the previous weeks in Pollok for the Dick Wedlock, and then last weekend in Killearn.

Mum and I both vested-up for the club championship Pollok parkrun on the Saturday morning, and did easy efforts. We enjoyed some coffee and cake afterwards, and receiving lots of good luck messages from the Harriers crew, we set off to pack, and pile into Ewan’s car for the drive down to Northumberland. Seeing the castle pop up in front of us as we reached the top of a hill really got the excitement building, and I forgot that I had been sitting with an ice-pack on my knee for most of the journey. We checked into our hotel, had a quick trip to the beach and then got changed for a trip to the Apple Core in Lucker for a sadly lack-lustre pre-race dinner. On the way back, we decided to drive the race route, which was an absolutely genius plan, as this filled me with confidence for the following day. There were no steep inclines, the hedgerows were full of blossom, the road surface looked very decent to run on and the air smelled fresh; always a bonus in farm country!

What followed was a pretty disastrous night’s sleep, too hot and with really sore hips/piriformis and when we woke-up the castle had disappeared from view into the east coast haar. Adding insult to injury, there was no porridge to be had, so I had to settle for muesli and a couple of Mo Farah style cups of coffee. Cue five trips to the loo before the start of the race. We headed off to the pavilion at the cricket ground on the castle green to collect our numbers nice and early after breakfast. This was no hassle at all. We returned at twenty past nine to locate fellow Harrier Anne who was coming up from Newcastle for the race with her sisters in tow for support and photo-taking. A wee one mile warm-up round the Wynding, another stop into the Victoria hotel for the loo, and we headed up to the castle.

The field of just under 400 runners gathered inside the castle walls before the start of the race which was all kinds of cool, and I admit I had the Lord of the Rings theme going around inside my head. Announcements were made which were impossible to hear above the babble going on around us and then we were off, DOWNHILL. I had moved forward a bit but it still took nearly twenty seconds to get across the mat after the gun went off. Being a lover of downhills I let my legs fly and passed quite a few runners on my way down from the castle, building up momentum for the climb through the village main street before turning left into the picturesque country roads. Traffic was stopped only for the short section that we were passing through the village at the beginning, but the few cars that I encountered on the route had either pulled in to wait for us to pass, or were travelling very slowly and respectfully alongside the runners, who naturally kept to the left. There were only a few marshals on the course, but being quite a straightforward loop, this was sufficient.

The first 3 kilometres passed quickly in gentle undulation and then a sustained but shallow climb up to the highest point of the race. I was positioning myself alongside “experienced-looking” runners, in their club vests and trying to keep passing as many as I could. It is incredible the motivation you get from being alongside someone who has a pacing alarm set on their watch. I made it my mission to get as far ahead of her as possible. I should mention that the fog had not lifted when the race began, it was damp, about 11 degrees and drizzly so there was no real view to take in. At one point I passed a field of black cattle having a bit of a gallop, and thought “Yes! Running is the best feeling, even the cows want to join in!”

Between 3 and 7k, the course is predominantly downhill but with a couple of bumps in it, one at 5k, just before the water station, and another at 6k at Shoreston Hall. This was when the drizzle turned into rain, and I began to feel a little dispirited as a couple of male runners edged past me. The flatness of the course was working against me at this point as I felt a bit fatigued and was aware of the niggle in my right hip. At this point I could hear coach Anji in my head, telling me to use my arms, and so I just tried to power along, hoping my legs would follow. I resisted the temptation to check my pace throughout. I find that I am easily psyched-out by trying to do sums in my head and prefer just to keep the internal monologue going, willing myself to push harder, and listening to my body’s signals as I go. A climb at 8k on the coastal road was just what I needed to refocus and kick-up a gear, especially when the murky mass hidden in mist in the distance must have been the castle. I sped-up going down the other side and made for the Bamburgh sign-post around the 9k marker. I was quietly panicking that the finish was going to be all the way back up where we started, which steeled me for the last uphill approaching the village, relief fuelling my final sprint around the corner and in to cross the line at the back of the car-park at the foot of the castle.

I quickly saved the run on my watch and was filled with confusion when “New Record Best 5k 24:11” flashed on the screen, followed by “New Record Best 10k 48:34”. I staggered to the water table and collected my medal only as there was no goody bag, before checking my watch and confirming that I had taken a massive 2 minutes 43 seconds off my previous best. Next to finish was mum Deirdre in a season’s best of 52:22, then Anne in 55:03; a new pb for her, and soon after my big brother Ewan, also in a chip time of 55:03. After rushing back to the hotel for showers before kick-out at twelve which had been reluctantly extended from 11am, we sauntered along to the pavilion to confirm our times. We then learned that mum had only gone and won first female V60, earning her a smart new long-sleeve top as her prize. Thoroughly chuffed to bits we headed to the Lord Crewe for a really delicious lunch and a refreshing Newcastle Brown Ale to top it all off. Home again by 5pm, mission accomplished.

Unlike club-run races this was a bare-bones affair, we had to buy the nice race t-shirts for £10 which you pre-ordered upon entering online and there were no snacks or vouchers or any goodies at all at the finish besides our medal and bottle of water. That being said, it was efficient, all of the organisers from Run Nation were friendly and helpful and there seemed to be no technical issues. I will definitely be doing this run again next year and would encourage others to come too as clearly it is a fast course.

Interested in Joining?

Bellahouston Harriers are an amateur running club based on the south side of Glasgow.

Our friendly atmosphere and great coaching make us a great choice if you are looking to start running for a club or if you have run with a club before.

Click here to find out more...

Twitter Feed