Mark Reynolds reports back from the Kielder 10k on another successful afternoon for Tyne Bridge Harriers.
It seems to be a fatal flaw of mine to only enter 10 km races that involve plenty of hills. Having staggered round Morpeth, Edinburgh and Cragside next on the list was the Kielder 10k, staged the day before the popular marathon. Kielder Water holds 200 billion litres of water, which, by sheer coincidence, is exactly the same amount that will be consumed by runners in the marathon. This leaves just a small puddle by mid- afternoon and it takes Northumbrian Water a full year to refill ready in time for the next one.
The day dawned bright and clear with little fluffy clouds hanging over Northumberland boding well for a good day out. Heading up to Falstone village with good friend David Hambler we enjoyed the scenery and discussed the coming race. Having checked out the profile it appeared to be a bit up and down with the main climb coming in the first mile or so for 140m of elevation (a mere slope compared to last week’s Kielder Blast of 450+). At £23 the race entry fee was at the higher end of the spectrum so we hoped for a good event for the money. One smart feature was chip timing integrated into the race numbers meaning that you didn’t have to faff on with a credit card tied to your trainer (but still had to faff on with four pins in a vest).
Parking up in a field, marshals directed us to the shuttle bus for the reservoir itself. There was a good atmosphere here with the site set up for the 10k and marathon and plenty of runners and supporters milling about like grockles. Checking our bags into the drop off and getting ready was straightforward with plenty of friendly marshals. Also welcome were plenty of friendly toilets which at least rescued the reservoir and the people of the North East from some dodgy coloured tap water the next day.
Heading to the assembly point I spotted a few familiar faces including Stuart Dickson and Denise Waugh. Paul Hilton was moonlighting for his ‘other’ team and running the first 11k leg of the Run Bike Run which followed the full marathon course round the lake. TBH were also represented in this event by Louise Rodgers, Rob Kirtley and Anji Close taking the 11/26/5 km splits in turn to make the full 26.2 miles. The runners for this race started about 5 minutes ahead of the main 10k and soon disappeared into the trees and hills.
I chatted nervously with Kevin Jeffress near the front of the pack as we waited for the off. We weren’t sure what the course was going to bring and talked down the chances of a PB given the terrain. The starter called us to the front and warned us that the first runner down the hill would make it onto Look North – Kev needed no second invitation and shot off for a date with Carol Malia. The pack of 500 runners surged over the line and headed down to the edge of the lake.
Within 250 metres we were climbing into the trees and I glimpsed Kev’s black and white vest as he forged ahead. The first mile was mainly uphill on a gravel trail surrounded by pine trees, rocks and ferns. There were no spectators on the course and the only sounds were the pounding of feet on the trail and increasingly laboured breathing. Soon we reached the peak and immediately went hurtling down the other side on a long descent. This set the pattern for the race with climbs followed by quick descents on the trail paths.
I generally struggle a bit on the uphill’s and then manage to make up ground going down the other side so tried to keep it steady. The route was well marked and regular kilometre markers helped break the course down. The track twisted and turned round the Bull Crag peninsula which dominates the southwest corner of the lake. At one point a runner in front of me gave up on a climb and staggered to a halt, I tried to help with a word of encouragement, only to have him pass me a few minutes later!
Reaching the halfway point in 20.25 I was pleased with my progress but wary of the terrain to come. I decided to try and keep up the pace until the 8k point and then see if I could finish off in under 41 mins. I began to slowly gain on the runners in front of me, imperceptibly narrowing the gaps. The track plunged into a narrow woodland trail with twists, turns and sharp banks. Hearing shouts ahead I knew the line was close and pushed on hard as a Crook AC runner (Craig Downs) came past me. Breaking out of the tree cover the finish line was just ahead, the announcer shouting encouragement over the PA. We both sprinted for the line and the Craig held me off to take 12th place.
Gasping congratulations to the others runners I was immediately handed a personal print out with our time and finishing position on it – a nice touch. I’d clocked an official 40.27 and was both surprised and pleased with this, taking 1.20 off my previous best. Then straight through to the marquee where we were handed goody bags, t-shirts and medals, all of which were very decent. The goody bag contained a Mars bar (devoured immediately), an isotonic drink (ditto), Salomon running socks, a lollipop, smoothie, 500ml Start Fitness water bottle, an energy gel and a bunch of flyers all inside a Start Fitness shoulder bag (an item shamelessly copied from the TBH 5 Mile race by the event organisers). All in all I would award this package the coveted Professor Tournesol Goody Bag of the Year 2012.
I stumbled over to the massage area where Kev Jeffress was sprawled flat out, having run the race of his life to finish 2nd in an amazing 35.27, just behind Tim Calder of Gateshead. Kev was looking pretty comfortable on the massage table so I wandered over for a cup of tea and piece of cake provided by Kielder Parish Council and watched the finish. There were black and white vests throughout the field as vocal support from Denise rang out to encourage Natalie Mee, Christopher Murther and Stephanie McFarlane over the line.
A little while later the Run Bike Run teams began to arrive with the winner crossing the line in 1 hour 58, slightly ahead of Paul’s Nexus colleague in 2nd. The TBH trio clocked a mighty impressive 2 hours 24 mins for 26.2 miles to take 10th place overall out of 42 finishers.
Having watched the conclusion of the racing it was time to hop back onto the bus in order to win the marathon, er… head home, for a weary but happily glowing rest. Well done to all TBH runners today especially those debuting at the distance. Here’s to the marathon runners taking on the course tomorrow with best wishes for a successful day.
Full results can be found here.
Mark ‘Cuthbert’ Reynolds
TBH Results for Kielder 10k
|1||2||739||Kevin Jeffress||SNR||Tyne Bridge Harriers||0:35:27|
|2||14||442||Mark Reynolds||SNR||Tyne Bridge Harriers||0:40:27|
|3||77||737||Stuart Dickson||V40||Tyne Bridge Harriers||0:47:56|
|4||120||472||Natalie Mee||SNR||Tyne Bridge Harriers||0:51:20|
|5||155||473||Christopher Murther||SNR||Tyne Bridge Harriers||0:52:41|
|6||343||487||Stephanie McFarlane||SNR||Tyne Bridge Harriers||1:03:51|
TBH Results for Kielder Run Bike Run 26.2 Miles
|3||2||1538||Paul Hilton + Nexus||0:40:25
|10||5||1516||Louise Rodgers, Rob Kirtley, Anji Close||0:47:38