This is a night race so I donned my head torch and trail shoes and set my self for a new experience. It has been 6 months since my last race, so I was not sure what to expect. Despite being determined to have an easy start and work my way into it I still started to quickly for my current fitness levels and found myself in oxygen debt by the time we reached the top of the first climb.
Starting and finishing at Kielder Castle, the roughly figure of 8 course heads out along forest trail before hitting a single track section. Once at the top, I eased down the hill to try and catch my breath as we descended and crossed back through the finish area at 2.5km to start the larger loop.
According to the Campaign for the Protection of Rural England, the star studded skies above Kielder Water and Forest Park are the darkest in England. But, star gazing was the last thing on my mind as we headed out through Viaduct Wood which runs alongside the River North Tyne and across Kielder Viaduct. It was here that I started moving slowly up through the field. Although there were big gaps between runners and I was running alone I was gaining on the bobbing lights that stretched in the distance before me.
Then came the last hill, from studying the map before the start I had calculated it was probably just under a mile with 100m of climbing but it felt longer and steeper and my pace slowed dramatically. However, I made it to the top (eventually) and started back down the other side, catching 3 or 4 other runners as I went. Returning to the finish at Kielder Castle in 21st place with a time of 52.52.8, 2nd M50 (16 seconds behind the first M50).
Obviously not a race in which to get a pb for 10km but this was a very enjoyable and well organised event organised by High Terrain Events and I think I will be aiming for a return visit next year.