Yesterday I drove up to Holkham Hall to run my first 10k race of the year. Holkham is one of my favourite places in North Norfolk and I often go up there to the beach, which is great for sunbathing on hot, sunny days! This is the first time that I would actually go into the Holkham Hall estate and run through the grounds, so I was really looking forward to it.
The race had been easy to sign up to – I did it all online – and while they emailed information, you could also easily check their website or facebook page for information, so I felt that I was kept well informed about start times and general information.
On the day the organisation was great, especially as there was a massive triathlon taking place the next day with some top athletes competing and nearly 1,400 participants. Despite this huge event due to take place, the organisers were still enthusiastic about the 10k and 700 people had signed up to run it.
Parking was well marshalled and despite not printing off the athlete’s parking permit I had no problems parking for free and the marshals were helpful and friendly when I spoke to them. Collecting the race number was equally as easy and again everyone was friendly and cheerful, which helped to create a relaxed and happy atmosphere. There was also a well staffed baggage area; plus no queues for the toilet which I think is a race first!
The general atmosphere at the start line area was great. It was relaxed and encouraged a family-friendly environment with stalls selling food and drinks for spectators, plus the weather was sunny and warm so everyone could relax on the grass as we waited for the race to start. There was also constant commentary, which was again really good and kept us all informed about our specific events and where we needed to be.
One thing that did surprise me was the late starting time of 12pm. Maybe because I usually run longer distances, but this is the latest I’ve ever started a race and threw me off a bit with pre-race fuelling, as I wasn’t sure if to eat more or keep to my usually amounts – in the end I just ate an extra banana about an hour before the race started.
The race itself was both challenging but really enjoyable. The start line was split into two, sub-50 runners at the front and all other runners behind. I was near the front and I felt I had lots of room to move and get a good pace quickly once the race started. The course was challenging though, in that there was some up-hill trail running in the first few kilometers and at about 5k there was a stretch of open road in the strong midday sun, which was a struggle. At about 6k the course got a bit easier and was on roads and mainly downhill or flat to the finish. The course kept entirely within the Holkham Hall estate grounds, which are beautiful, and there was one point when you turned a corner and saw the house in front of you which looked stunning.
There were three water stations on the course and the marshals all the way round were fantastic and were really encouraging. Towards the finish line there were more people cheering and they even laid out a red carpet to run down to the finish, plus a free pint of beer for finishers!
Overall it was a lovely race and one I would definitely consider running again. I would also say it is a very relaxed race which makes it ideal for anyone new to racing, although I wouldn’t run it expecting to get a PB.
I was a bit disappointed with my time of 49:13, as I had originally hoped to get a PB; however I came 14th out of 300 women running, 9th in my category and 104 overall – so I’m still happy with my result!