Since their inception, I've always felt the Durham City runs (5k and 10k) have had a really special atmosphere. This year's was no exception and super-charged by the likes of people like Paula Radcliffe, circulating freely. Despite a burst water main at Neville's Cross throwing a curve ball at the event - with the published routes no longer being viable - the organisers did a great job at short notice in sorting out some alternative routing. Events of the North though could do nothing about the weather, which was HOT! A glance at the BBC weather forecast before leaving for the run, had indicated it would 'feel like' 31 degrees Celsius and it felt every bit of that. The potentially cooling threat of thundery showers .. never materialised.
Due to the enforced route changes, both the 5k and 10k set off at the same time from the same location. The start (just next to the Gala Theater) soon came about, and following a 10 second countdown we were off. A short dip was quickly followed by a long steady climb up past the market square; then the cathedral. With trying to pick out paths to avoid the cobbles, and the large numbers, it was difficult to pick-out other Birtley runners. The 1st km marker arrived on Prebends bridge, and the temperature did seem to cool, as you dropped out of the sunshine onto the riverside path. I'd been relatively happy with my 1st km pace, but despite the riverside path being flat .. there wasn't a lot of space, and found that my pace had dropped by the time I'd reached Framwellgate waterside and the route opened up some more.
By this time though, the heat had got the better of me...and my race from this point - despite a welcome call of encouragement from Karen Goulding - gradually went south. The waterside did bring with it a dog-leg, and provided a short opportunity to watch those ahead (in both the 5k and 10k) heading back towards the Footbridge (opposite the Radisson Hotel). I picked out Greg, Nigel, Tracy and Katie before making the turn myself and heading back towards the footbridge.
In an earlier year, returning to the east side of the river lead on to a direct return to the market and the finish, but over the past couple of years the organisers have thrown in 'another hill', and after leading runners towards the Gala Theater, the route takes you back on yourself, around the Sands car-park and then on to Providence Row. Its pleasant enough name is not reflected in its topography! I was fairly spent at the 'summit', but that did signal a downhill section which was welcome in the heat.
Back uphill again and past the market, the 10k runners split off to the left to start their next 5k (around the racecourse)...but I (being in the 5k) kept right and made my way towards the Cathedral. There's a tricky little sharp and cobbled climb up from Saddler street up onto the Cathedral square, but it's a lovely place to finish the run; which I eventually did...but not perhaps in the time I'd hoped for. Still, it was hot!!
Report by Dave Francis
What Dave is too modest to say is that daughter Katie was first female in the 5k - well done Katie! Full results here.
Our own Tracy Millmore also did well in the trying conditions, finishing 3rd in the 10k. Full results here.