Northbrook 10k – Stewart Boulton reports

Stewart Boulton reports on a tough, hilly race – in Coventry?! Yes, in Coventry!

Northbrook 10K                            June 1st 2008

This is probably the toughest 10K race in the West Midlands… if there’s a tougher one then I haven’t found it… and probably wouldn’t want too!!  They say Coventry doesn’t have any “real” hills, but this course seems to find every incline and upwards gradient going in the local area.

This race is pretty much my “local” race, situated only a few miles from home and even closer from my Gym, which I use as the “base” for treadmill sessions, training runs and our weekly Running Group.  The race begins at the Coventry Hill Hotel in the small village of Allesley, best known for its former Jaguar Car Plant.  A conference room within this hotel is used as the Race HQ and also features a refreshment area that sells drinks and homemade treats for hungry supporters.  The hotel also opens up several guest rooms on two different floors (one for male, one for female) which offers changing and shower facilities for the runners before and after the race.

As per last year, there were no huge crowds at the start of this event as the race appeals mainly to local club runners.  Saying that though it’s always well attended and I am sure there were many more runners than last year as the event continues to grow, but still manages to maintain a friendly atmosphere with warm support from friends and family.

Now the reason why I say this is a tough race is because it feels like an upward battle from the very start, where you’re immediately faced with an uphill incline as you make your way up from the bottom of a long steep road.  The first 2 miles or so is pretty much running on an incline, after that, it plateaus off as the next couple of miles takes you through local countryside past several farms and pubs.  As always, the course was well marshalled with a couple of water stations en-route to offer much needed refreshment on these mid-summer races. 

The final third of the route is more forgiving than the first, as the course takes a downward turn back down towards Allesley.  The finish line is not in the same place as the start and is situated around the corner on a different road.  The good news about this though is that the road chosen for the finish line is all downhill in the direction you are running, making for a fast finish for that final kilometre.

In my opinion, because of the nature of the course, this race offers very little PB potential, so do not expect a record-breaking time, but if you run this race every year then its best to make a direct comparison against it self.  I ran this race last year for the first time and earned a time of 44:15.  This year I achieved a time of 42:10 so had improved by just over 2 minutes.  So it least shows, that after 12 months I’m still heading in the right direction…