Alastair Spanner sends this report from Sunday’s 10k race.
Newton Aycliffe 10K: Sunday, 15th June 2014
“There won’t be anyone there I know” I said confidently to my wife as I left home just after 8am to go and do the Newton Aycliffe 10k. No pressure I thought to myself, just enjoy it. If I run badly no one will ever know, and if I run well I will tell everyone until they are sick of hearing about it. I wouldn’t even have to make up any injuries to tell people about before the start!
Since January my times have been tumbling in the wrong direction. However the Middlesbrough 5k a couple of weeks ago had given me hope that I had turned the corner after putting in an improved performance, despite DD (David Daniels) gliding past me in the final kilometre.
I’ve done this race twice before. It’s only a 45 minute drive and there are never many runners from the Newcastle area there. It’s billed as “flat and fast” on the website but that was possibly just someone joking around. It’s a small lap followed by 2 big laps around Newton Aycliffe with each one having a long sweeping hill of about a mile at the start followed by a couple of dips then some more hills. It’s all on closed roads, is chip timed and is very well organised and marshalled.
I drove into Newton Aycliffe at 9am. It was deserted apart from one runner on the other side of the carriageway doing a warm up as I sped by. DD. I couldn’t believe it, and I couldn’t find the horn on my new cheap Romanian Dacia to get his attention. Don’t think it has a horn. I felt my hamstrings tighten, hay-fever kick in and suddenly knew I must be dehydrated as well.
I registered and met up with DD and Peter Hearn from Tynedale. They were talking about running 6 minute mile pace. My only race tactics usually involve going off like an idiot and then trying to hold on so I thought I would try and do the sensible thing and run with them before hopefully gliding away myself in the last mile…….
The start is uphill funnily enough. We were joined on the line by David Johnson who was away like a shot. The first couple of miles passed without incident at around 5.56 pace as we ran in a group of 5 or so. Then just before the 4k mark as has happened so often recently, I went from feeling nice and comfortable to feeling like death. I fell off the back of the group and hard as I tried just kept slipping back and started to get passed by people.
There is good support all round the course and each kilometre is clearly marked with a big luminous yellow sign. Approaching the massive 7k marker, with the contents of my nose caked around my face, my mouth hanging open and sounding like a 90 year old smoker, a runner in a red vest bounded up behind me and asked how far there was to go! Apart from the fact I couldn’t speak I though he had to be taking the mick so I ignored him. But he asked again. With virtually my last bit of strength I managed to make a gurgling sound to which he said thanks very much and flew off.
The last couple of kilometres were hell. Peter Hearn was about 50 metres ahead but I couldn’t get any closer. Someone was closing in on me very quickly and as we entered the final straight everyone seemed to be shouting for him. From somewhere I found a slight burst of speed which resulted in me crossing the line ahead of him before kneeling down and wretching. A lady with a tea tray full of race-chips asked if I could take mine off my ankle and put it on her tray which I managed to do in one movement while still wretching.
David Johnson had run a superb race in just over 36 minutes on a hard course. DD likewise was not far over 37 minutes and surely would have been back in the 36’s on something flatter. Myself, 38.24 was my slowest attempt at this one but now I’ve recovered I thoroughly enjoyed it and glad I made the effort.
Peter Hearn of Tynedale who also ran very well described it to me as an “Honest” 10k and I think that sums this one up. A well organised, hard road race well worth a go.
Race results can be found here.