Morpeth 11k Start

Morpeth 11k Road Race – 1st Jan 2017

Pre-race

Because of the short distance of my first race of the day, Hillforts and Headaches Fell Race, I decided that I would see what other races might be on the same day and as luck would have it the Morpeth 11k Road Race was only a few miles away and was starting at 1pm which gave me just enough time to get to the race – good times 🙂 . This event had the option of signing up on the day or online of which I chose the latter as I like to do this in advance if the option allows.

For some reason I miscalculated and thought I would have more time in between completing my previous race and the start of this race so I was assuming I would be able to stop off for something to eat. In reality I never had this time. I managed to get to the race registration point, Morpeth Rugby Club, at 12.35 pm to collect my number and as luck would have it there was food on in the bar.  I try to avoid processed and sugary foods, not because I don’t like them but because I like to go for the healthier choice so off I went looking for what healthy option was on offer.  I was struggling for a healthy option and as beggars can’t be choosers, especially before a race, I had to make the hard choice of going for a slice of banana cake – God dammit. 😉

Event Statistics.

For those that are interested in the race stats these were listed as follows:

  • Event Provider: Morpeth Harriers.
  • Race Type: Road Race on open roads.
  • Distance: 11km / 6.84 miles.
  • Climb: No info available but course described as undulating.

The race.

The race started a shortish walk from the registration point by turning left out of the Rugby Club towards the top of the hill.  The start point was quite busy and after a short safety briefing, advising of the flooded road and excess leaves on the ground, we were off on our way on time at 1pm.

I have broken the race down into 4 logical sections:

Section 1 – The first 2 miles.

The start of the race takes you back past the Rugby Club towards Mitford on rural roads.  If you are thinking of doing this race and you are taking family members with you then you can save them a walk as they can stop at the Rugby Club and support you as you pass rather than going to the start line.

Morpeth 11k Start
The start of this year’s race.
Used with permission from Steve Miller. 
Image Source.

The first two miles or so had the usual jostling for position before the field started to spread out.  I had read that the course was undulating but I had not seen the route profile so I wasn’t sure when the hills would hit however I was quite surprised that the first 2 miles really didn’t feel like it had any significant hills and felt quite flat(ish).

Not long after seeing the Plough Inn in Mitford, just before the 2 mile point, we turned left to start the loop back to Morpeth Town Center.

The Plough Inn Just before the 2 mile mark. Image from Google Street View.

Section 2 – The long hilly climb.

The surprising ‘flatness’ of the first section was short lived as the next 1.75 miles is a continuous climb uphill (approx. 200 foot elevation) along one long rural road so my pace slowed a little but not too much.  I now understood the ‘undulating’ comments in the reviews that I had read.

The view you can expect on section 2. Image from Google Street View.

Once a race opens out and everyone has settled into their own pace I like to pick someone out in front of me and see if I can at least stick with them or slowly ‘chase them down’. Just before the 2 mile point another runner passed me, the first for a while, so I decided to try and ‘chase him down’ or at least keep within distance of him.  I never did quite catch him but I do think that this helped me keep my pace to a decent level rather than dropping off my pace too much on the up hill section so no other runners managed to pass me on this section.

Section 3 – The descent back to Morpeth Town Center.

At the end of the section 2 there were marshal’s directing us left again to the loop back to Morpeth.  Again this stretch was on one continuous 2 mile stretch on a rural road but this section was now all down hill (approx. 175 foot decrease).  It was all of a sudden ‘quite’ cold along this stretch of road as we felt the first drops of water on our faces as it was desperately trying to rain.

The start of section 3. Image from Google Street View.

During this section another runner, the first in a while, passed me and the runner I was ‘chasing down’.  Towards the end of this section the traffic was starting to get busier, and the view ‘less rural’, the closer we got to the town center.

Section 4 – The last mile and the finish through Carlisle Park.

At the end of section 3 we were again directed left towards the town center passing Morpeth Golf Club on our left. On this section there is only a very small stretch which requires you to run on the road as we were now able to use the paths.  At approx the 6 mile point we were directed left into Morpeth’s Carlisle park which has quite a short steep climb to tackle before we made our way further into the park past lots of supporters cheering us on.

The entrance to Carlisle Park. Image from Google Street View.

We continued through the park alongside the river passing underneath Oldgate Bridge near Morpeth Clock Tower.  I have to admit I was struggling for the last half mile or so and kept looking back as I felt the runner behind me might be catching me so I was extremely happy to see the finish line not long after passing the bridge.  The finish was located on a section of grass next to the river.

The finish area. Image from Google Street View.

The finish of the race does not return you to the start line of the race but quite close to it.  The start line can be accessed by crossing the river on the Skinnery Footbridge near the finish line. If you are thinking of doing this race then make sure you let your family know where you will finish as mine were still at the Rugby Club.

Skinnery Footbridge which returns you back to the start. Image from Google Street View.

After standing chatting to another runner, the one I was ‘chasing down’, for 5 minutes or so I made my way back to Morpeth Rugby Club and just in the nick of time too as the flood gates opened.  I felt sorry for the runners still out on the course but only for a few seconds. 😉

How did I do?

I completed the course in 46 minutes and 15 secs finishing 62nd out of 162 runners.  This is roughly what I expected so I was quite pleased with it especially as this was my second race of the day.  The winning time was by Peter Newton in a time of 33 mins and 28 secs.  Well done Peter!

My Garmin recorded the race stats as per the following:

Morpeth 11k Garmin Stats

Morpeth 11k Garmin Splits and elevation

Profile Graph (Elevation in feet, Distance in miles):

Morpeth 11k Garmin elevation profile

Race results and images.

Full results can be found here.

Official race report can be found here.

I have been unable to find any official images in which to link to apart from the image of the start line above by Steve Miller.

What did I learn from this race?

It’s good to chat to other runners.

I have to admit that I am quite a private person and tend to keep myself to myself and don’t often get into conversations with other runners as I tend to go to a race, do what I have to do and then I leave pretty soon afterwards.  However this was the second time today that I have talked to another runner and I was pleased that I did after this race.

I am quite interested in taking part in more Ultra events and the runner I was talking to actually took part in these events regularly so he was explaining to me how he went about training for such events which I believe will prove useful.  Oh and he has just about convinced me that I should really enter the event I have been thinking about for a while after he confirmed that it is a good event.  Good stuff 🙂

How would I rate this race?

Category Score Comments
Overall score 4/5 I really enjoyed the race however as I prefer off road races I have marked this as a 4 out of 5.  I am pretty sure that if your preference is road races then this could very well be a 5 out of 5.
Would you do it again? 5/5 Yes, its a good race.
Course 3.5/5 I enjoyed the course which is made better by the fact that most of the course is run on rural roads so it is quite pleasant on the eye however my personal preference is off road courses.
PB potential 3/5 If you can get past the all uphill part of the course in section 2 without losing too much time then it is certainly possible to get a PB.
Atmosphere 5/5 Plenty of mingling with all of the runners and it was good to get talking to another runner on ultra events.
Organisation 5/5 Exceptional organisation with the traffic management for the open roads.  I have done a few road races but I must admit the organisation and the amount of race officials along the course was absolutely outstanding and the best I have seen to date. Great support from the marshals encouraging the runners.
Value for money 5/5 At only £6 entry for affiliated runners (£0.88 per mile) and £8 for unaffiliated runners (£1.17 per mile) this is excellent value.
Beginner-friendliness 4.5/5 Very well suited for beginners as there were loads of race officials which meant the course was very well marked out and help was always near if required.

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