Bamburgh Castle 10k, 16th June 2024

Sunday morning greeted us with the bucolic sight of the sun rising majestically over Bamburgh Castle. In front of the impressive landmark, runners milled about on the cricket green, the forecast rain notable by its absence. In a corner of Race HQ, Bill McGuirk could be seen scrutinising the shoes of the elite athletes (strangely didn’t ask to check mine), who were grandly announced before the start, including Calum Johnson, winner of the last 3 Blaydon Races.

Cate had long planned to run this 10k with a friend, but I stepped in after last-minute illness struck, offering to act as pacer, as this dynamic had yielded some success at recent parkruns.

We set off up the main street, past the encouraging crowds, but were out of the village within a few minutes, after passing under the finishing arch we’d shortly be returning to. The surroundings then settled into what would follow for most of the run: sunny country roads flanked by high hedgerows.

After smashing the 50 minute barrier for the first time a couple of months ago (48:57!), Cate’s form has continued to build incredibly, so we were aiming for the 48 minute mark. As often happens in large events (over 500 finishers on this occasion), we spent the early stages doing a fair bit of weaving around other runners.

Perhaps due to the coast-adjacent route, we had assumed the course would be reasonably flat, a notion that was quickly dispelled. We pushed up the first couple of hills without too much issue, making speedy work of the descents, but the heat from the unexpected sunshine started to take its toll, and a brief pause at the half-way water station provided some crucial revitalisation.

The pace picked up nicely following the refreshment, but a few minutes later we turned a corner into the most gruelling section. A seemingly endless climb, that teased with a couple of plateaus before appearing to only get steeper. As I pushed on, trying not to let the pace drop too much, I attracted some verbal disgruntlement from my running partner (which to be fair, was as much directed at the hill as at me), but I wasn’t going to allow myself to slow too much, I was only fulfilling my role!

With less than 2km to go, the road levelled out, presenting us with a mostly flat run-in to the finish. Passing the 9km marker, my watch said we were bang-on 43 minutes, so I urged Cate on that we’d get under 48, easy. I then remembered I’d perhaps erroneously paused my watch during the water stop, but rationalised that it had been 15-20 seconds max. As long as we kept steady, it was still on!

Bamburgh Castle hove into view was we powered on, now surrounded by the expected grey clouds. Striding towards the finish, I could see the race clock ticking over 48:00, but given the time it would have taken us to get over the start line after the gun, figured we’d probably just done it… and so we had! Cate had blasted another 1 minute 9 seconds off her Port of Blyth time, all the more impressive as that route is actually flat, and also finished 2nd in her age category!

Basking in glory, we bumped into Lynne, the other Claremont entrant in the race, sadly only a spectator due to a stress-fracture in her foot. We walked down toward the castle, swinging our medals and commiserating with Lynne, hopefully a swift recovery will see her back running all the races before long. Not long after, the promised rain started lashing down, but we gratefully have sunny memories to go with Cate’s PB triumph.

112Cate Walker (PB, 2nd V40)47:48
113Laurie Johnson47:49
Laurie Johnson -