The quick start of the Tynedale 10k

Pushing the redline - Tynedale 10k 2019

I don’t think there’s a race start quite like the Tynedale 10k anywhere in the north. A steep downhill that eases off and sweeps you from Ovington into Ovingham. The challenge isn’t to start fast, but rather not to start too fast.

I set my 10k PB two summers ago in Morpeth at 40:43. It was a hazy, dreamy, summer night and I’d set out for a 42:30 and found myself faster than I’d believed possible. I hoped I’d go on from that to get a sub-40 but it just wouldn’t come. My times started to slacken off and I settled in to 41-42 minute territory. Preparing for this race I couldn’t help but think that this might be my day.

It’s a little over a mile up from the race headquarters up to the start line in Ovingham, but it’s a pretty walk and helps prepare you. My strategy was to control myself on the initial descent so that I could sustain my pace better later on.

The official blew the air horn and 400ish runners set off down the hill. I tried to keep to what felt a comfortable and controlled pace. I was quicker than last year but, while it felt strained then, I knew I was running within myself this time.

About a mile in you pass the school and approach the first short incline up into Ovingham. I settled in and tried to incrementally build margin ahead of PB pace. The Tynedale 10k isn’t a negative split course due to the fast start, so I wanted some time in the bank.

Something that’s been a big help this year has been working on posture.

Something that’s been a big help this year has been working on posture. A friend from the club noticed last year that when I’m not going well, my head drops and shoulders slump inwards. This year I’ve been working to keep better form. Part of this is confidence, I’m going well and enjoying it, but part is conscious effort. The two feed each other.

I passed the halfway mark on 19:30 and allowed myself to start to believe that the PB could be on. I know from experience the second half can be a slog but I was feeling strong.

There are a few short bursts of uphill on the way into picturesque Wylam village and that started to take its toll. You turn at about 6km and come back through a water station before heading across to the south of the Tyne.

I had a juicy little duel across the beautiful Hagg Bank Bridge with a lad from Morpeth. We’d been switching places in the early miles and now ran side by side, matching each other stride for stride. I made it across the bridge first - but he’d ultimately pass me further along.

Racing across Hagg Bank Bridge.

By the time we dropped down onto the riverside with 3k left I knew the challenge was on. I glanced at my watch and the heart rate showed a few beats above max, with the pointer off the scale in the red zone. Breathing was heavy and my legs were starting to tire but I dug deep to see how long I could redline for.

My pace had started to drop and eaten into my buffer but I soon realised that a PB was almost inevitable. The big question was whether I could get that sub-40 or not. I kept as close to the target as possible through the next two kilometres and then decided to try and push on.

My heart rate showed a few beats above max, with the pointer off the scale in the red zone … I dug deep to see how long I could redline for.

I realised that 4:05/km or quicker for the last kilometre would get me home under the forty minute mark. What I lacked in freshness was suddenly made up by adrenaline.

With the finish line in sight, I was pushing 3:55 pace and pulling alongside another lad from the club. The watch vibrated to tell me that I’d hit the 10k mark in 39:50 but the finish line was still about sixty metres ahead. So close but so far.

I gave everything to my legs and cantered towards the line, eyes on the official clock as it ticked up to 40:00. Over the mats. I dropped to the floor and tried to regain my breath. My watch said 40:01. One second. One second. But it feels like a yawning chasm when it’s the thing between you and your goal.

The official results put my chip time as 40:00 bang on. Not the sub-40 I’d hoped for, but a 43 second PB none the less. After eighteen months of struggling for pace, I seem to be in a purple patch now.

I’d definitely recommend the Tynedale 10k. The Harriers do a great job of organising and it’s a perfect summer’s evening out. The course is mainly on the road, there’s some single track but it definitely feels like a road race. It’s a good quick route and really scenic running between some of the villages on the Tyne. As an added incentive all finishers get a pie and peas supper at the Adam & Eve pub on Prudhoe Riverside.

Tynedale, you’ve been good to me.

(Many thanks to Tynedale Harriers for the photographs)