From Balmbras to Bamburgh

Week: 05.06.17-11.06.17

Hugh and Margaret H are my virtual running partners this week. This is a bit of an exceptional week for me both in my running and my real life! This week is apparently #WomensSportWeek so what a great week of running to report on a week of this girl taking part in two great runs!

On Monday Paul and I moved house! My Mum and Dad have kindly be accommodating us at their house for 11.5 weeks (as Mum brightly told us as she waved goodbye!) We have felt really lucky to live with my parents, not only did it mean that we were able to save up every penny to help afford the house that we both love, but also they have properly looked after us with our washing/drying/shopping and cooking. This has meant that Paul and I have been able to finish work and head straight out for our training (Paul in the pool, on his bike or pounding the pavements, me on the streets or up and down the nearest hill) and coming straight back to food, rather than our usual not getting to eat until after 9pm after starting the prep after coming back from our activities.

Thank you Mum and Dad for your patience and your generosity it has been very much appreciated!

On Monday afternoon we were given the keys! We were no longer officially homeless! Paul and his Dad headed straight to get the huge van Paul had booked and then went off to our storage unit to start loading it. In the meantime I was joined by Mum to give the house a good clean.

The weather on Tuesday and Wednesday was atrocious, I mean none stop heavy rain really isn’t the best to be moving boxes and furniture in. But it didn’t really matter, we were moving our boxes and furniture into our house! We were going to bed very tired but very happy.

I had completed no running, there wasn’t the time, when I remembered we had signed up to the Blaydon Race on the Friday and not only that but the Run Nation Bamburgh 10k on the Saturday. We had both been looking forward to these runs all year, but neither of us had the energy to even think about them.

Date: 09.06.17

Location: Balmbras to Blaydon, Newcastle

Distance: 5.70 miles

Time: 44:36.4

Run notes: The Run is world famous! Ask any Geordie to sing you the Blaydon Races and they will do so with gusto until at least the third line and pick it up again at Armstong’s factory! The run takes place on the 9th June and is 5.6 miles, starting on Collingwood street, heads along Scotswood Road and finishes in Blaydon.

The most nerve wrecking thing of the run happened way back in February when they open the registration for entries. It sells out in less than an hour and Paul and I sat the whole hour staring at our computers, counting down the entries, as we waited in the online queue, willing our technology not to crash. I must admit I screamed at one point when my page refreshed.

When Friday came the excitement was building at work, two of colleagues were also running the course. So by the time I got home I was all of a buzz. Accompanied by the Blaydon Races on Youtube, it was a very quick change in to my running gear (MS Trust vest with my race number in proud display) and a long discussion about the small number of items that we could take in my back pocket:

  • My phone in case we needed to call someone (not each other because Paul didn’t have is)
  • Exact change for the bus to town for Paul, and back from Blaydon for the pair of us
  • £10 just in case
  • The house keys

We made our way in the sunshine to the bus stop. When we got on the bus there was a real sense of community. It was filled with people all proudly wearing brightly coloured running vests and numbers. Unfortunately due to the recent sad events in the UK, we had all received an email to make us aware of further road closures to increase security for the event. This meant that together we all walked through the city centre to the Bigg Market. There were running vest appearing everywhere. It was a real sight and really felt like you were part of something special.

I had taken a bottle of water with me to hydrate before we started, but after drinking three quarters of it I noticed the HUGE queues for the portaloos. That’ll be me waiting for the end of the run to go then.

We gathered outside ‘Balmbras’ the public house featured in the song and as I stretched my leg muscles my back pocket zip broke! Disaster! Paul managed to fix it but no more stretching for me. As the Blaydon Races began to play, I sang along and danced a little (there wasn’t much room for wild moves), but was surprised at how few in the packed road actually sang. I like to think Hugh, that the support of a strong welsh voice would have encouraged others in their singing.

Then apparently we were off. The club runners were given presidence so closest to the start line and the mere unaffiliated at least 5 minutes to get to the start (we were able to run before the line). Once across the sensors we were really away.

What an atmosphere! The streets were filled with fantastic supporters, cheering people on, ringing their cow bells and applauding. It was difficult at first to get a rhythm in my pace as there were so many people running. One of my colleagues actually commented afterwards that they had been forced to stop due to bunching up. It was difficult as you were often over taking people, some who were running 5 abreast! There were two comments from runners that summed up the initial running experience well, ‘This is just like the Great North Run, you end running much further as you spend the time running round people’ and on Scotswood Road ‘Why didn’t the people overtaking us get themselves to the front?!’ (to which someone else said, ‘because clearly club runners like you were there!’)

Numbers started to thin out and the running was great and I felt great! We were all ‘Really Gannin along the Scotswood Road’! The weather was perfect and the course was pleasant. It may have been the fact that I was bursting for the loo or that the Blaydon Races ditty was on repeat in my head, but I was doing well and for the first time ever in a run I knew I was. Then my back pocket broke again. Wah! I was running knowing that all of our well thought out most precious items for the evening could fall out at any time. The jeopardy! It’s like a frustrating challenge on a really naff 90s game show. Going down hills was particularly a nightmare. As my bum wiggled away, I had to hold the pocket together to keep everything from flying out. I contemplated handing over the goods to a marshall, but honestly, I knew I was having a good run so I didn’t want to stop.

A quick note. One thing that made me a bit sad whilst running, was as I crossed over the bridge, I ran passed a police officer keeping a watch with a large gun in his hands. It was great to see people out protecting us and we are lucky to have them but such a big gun on the streets, is a sight I am not use to and not something I am completely comfortable with yet.

Back to the running – With one mile to go there was the water stop. But I ran passed knowing that the finish line was close. At the other side of the road there was a family kindly offering slices of orange with the runner who needed a final boost to get up a final little kick up, to get you into the grounds. This was it, I was coming to the end of the Blaydon Race and I wanted to remember it so me and my back pocket gave it one final push.

I crossed the finish line and I was thrilled. Now with goodie bag and finisher’s t-shirt in hand, I had to find where Paul and I agreed to meet. There was hundreds of people and as I took in the atmosphere whilst passing the stall giving away free tripe (it must be something to do with the song surely?!) I doubted whether I would find Paul, but when I turned there he was.

Delving in to the bag we also discovered a ham and pease pudding sandwich, bag of crisps, bottle of water and a bottle of Blaydon Race Ale. What a brilliant goodie bag!

As we waited for the organised buses to get back to Newcastle we both saw that we had run our fastest 5kms ever! I was so chuffed! I had previously thought I would never beat a time I had randomly set last year and got nowhere near again since.

Average pace: 7.11/mile

Splits: (min/mile)

– Mile 1 – 8:20

– Mile 2 – 7:40

– Mile 3 – 7:35

– Mile 4 – 7:58

– Mile 5 – 7:53

– 0.7 Mile  – 7:22

Achievements: Fastest 5k. EVER! Boom!

Date: 11.06.17

Location: Bamburgh, Northumberland

Distance: 6.22 miles

Time: 49:36.9

Run notes: We’d spent Saturday continuing to unpack the boxes and as we went to bed both Paul and I commented how we wish we could run the Bamburgh 10k on another day and have a lie in tomorrow. But I wasn’t going to let Margaret H and Hugh down!

So we got up early the next morning, dragged ourselves out of bed and I got into my trusty MS Trust running vest and slumped into the car. We got to the base of the beautiful Bamburgh Castle with 5 minutes until registration closed. But disaster! The car park was full! So I was turfed out, to run across the cricket pitch and get our numbers whilst Paul found us a parking spot. Once achieving our urgent goals, we met up and there wasn’t time for a much needed visit to the toilet (I realise there is a theme in these posts), so we made our way up the hill, to the side of the Castle closest to the sea and the start line.


We did our usual and made our way to the back of the throng (down the other side of the hill), neither of us had any particular energy for a mega run, although others were really up for it and had bunched together by the start line.

Bamburgh start

It is always a great atmosphere at the back of the run, with lots of chatting and less focusing. After several requests from the Race Director for people to move back we were off.


The Run Nation runs are great because they are always in beautiful locations. I think it helped that both Paul and I had run this before and I had been running here on our Northumberland break earlier this year. The weather was nice and dry with a slight breeze. Despite the groggy start I felt comfortable as I ran.


It was at 4.5 miles that I realised to my suprise that I had the chance to run 10k in under 50min, it was going to be close, but nothing was going to stop me! It was a little difficult, the last section was on the main road between Seahouses and Bamburgh and the traffic was still using it, so you had to use your wit to choose the right times to pass other runners without being squashed like a pancake, but I am pleased to report that with some nifty passing timing, I safely romped into Bamburgh village and up to the finish line under the clock not yet showing 50 minutes! I was very happy to claim my finishers medal and bottle of water.


As Paul and I walked in front of the castles to the toilets, really happy to have completed another great run, we were surprised to find that we had both run our fastest 10ks ever! Clearly a combination of no running, heavy lifting, exhaustion and for me, needing the toilet works a treat!

Bamburgh 10km

What a great week of running it had been! You just have to love life on weeks like this! Two fab runs where I couldn’t stop smiling throughout.

The atmosphere at both runs were fantastic and I would thoroughly recommend them to anyone looking for a good run, no matter how tired you think you are!

Average pace: 8.54/mile


– Mile 1 – 8:83

– Mile 2 – 8:19

– Mile 3 – 7:46

– Mile 4 – 7:50

– Mile 5 – 7:47

– Mile 6 – 7:39

– 0.2 Mile – 7:12

Achievements: Fastest 10k! Ever! Double boom!!

Thank you Hugh and Margaret H for joining me for these two brilliant runs and what achievements we recorded! Thank you particularly for spurring me to get up on the Sunday morning, Paul and I thoroughly enjoyed the run and it would have been a real shame to have missed it.

4 thoughts on “From Balmbras to Bamburgh

  1. Congratulations on your new home. And well done on completing your runs. You are looking really well. Keep up the good work. Cathyx

    Liked by 1 person

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