Les Allcorn 10k, Hulne Park, Alnwick – 9th May 2023

by Mel Riley

After the cancellation of the Run Nation event at Ouston Airfield, I decided to find another race to re-route to. With nothing much around the local area, it was a midweek trip to Alnwick for the Alnwick Harriers annual 10k race at Hulne Park.
I didn’t fully appreciate just how far away Alnwick is from Darlington (and even further when you have to battle through rush hour traffic!) so in typical Mel style I arrived with 15 minutes to spare. Congregating at the start, I could see a lot of Morpeth and Alnwick vests – all looking like they meant business so I just tucked in at the back to try to stop myself shooting off like a bat of hell.
The start was nice and flat, following the river on your left through parkland for about half a mile then over a little stone bridge and up what appeared to be a little hill. I thought I could see the top so made a push to get there and have a breather – I was very wrong! It did go slightly downhill for a few strides but then back to a steady incline, lovely route through the trees, felt like Hamsterley Forest.

At about the mile point, the track turned to the right and we were faced with a proper hill, winding our way up through the trees. I could see the speedy runners striding up like it was nothing up in the distance, whilst I huffed and puffed my way up, even being overtook by people walking but I was determined not to stop! Got to the top of the forest track at about 1.5 miles in and there was a right hairpin where you joined the tarmac road – thought I had made it to the top of the hill but my hopes were soon shattered when the road continued with the upward pull.

At this point, I admitted defeat and walked for about 0.2 miles to try and get my breathing back to being comfortable – sensible choice considering my aim for this run was to get round and not come away with any injuries. Once I reached the summit, it was downhill from there for the next mile and half – the views were stunning from the top of the hill where the trees opened out, but the sun was beating down on us even at 7:30pm!
By the time I got to the bottom of the hill, I had caught up with the guy in front of me. We managed to grunt a brief hello and ran side by side for most of the way home – the company definitely helped as the lack of training on my part was definitely starting to show. The last 2.5 miles were lovely, nice and flat and again following the path of the river. There were a few cattle grids but the marshals were on hand to direct us through the gates and by this point we were very strung out so no traffic issues getting through these pinch points. We finished where we started and the other runners who had completed the course were lining the way to cheer us all home.
I had set off with a realistic goal of finishing under 1 hour so was pleased to see my official time was 56:46, placed 71 out of 91 runners. The top spots were mostly filled with Morpeth runners (I think the men took 1st, 2nd & 3rd!). No medal or t-shirt for this race but lovely home made cakes and chocolate bars were a very welcome reward for our efforts.
All in all, a very picturesque venue for a race and definitely worth the drive up there – helped by the fact the weather was kind to us. Very well organised and marshalled by Alnwick Harriers.