Race Review: Great North 10k 2023

Another year, another Great North 10k route!

The Great North 10k used to be entirely in Gateshead, starting just outside Gateshead Stadium, heading out for an out-and-back along the Quayside, and finishing on the track inside it. I didn’t do it last year but I’m aware the route was changed so that it crossed one or two of the bridges and went along the Newcastle side of the Quayside for a bit, very similarly to the RunThrough Gateshead 10k that now takes place at the end of April (which I did for the first time this year). This year, they changed the route again, making it similar to the special 2021 route for the Great North Run where we all ran out halfway and then turned back. The difference was that as it was just a 10k, we turned back as soon as we got to the end of the Tyne Bridge – so we did pop into Gateshead, but only for a few seconds!

Still chasing that sub-hour 10k, I did some proper training for it this time with a couple of months of speedwork and higher mileage. Geth also offered to pace me as he was still recovering from his injury and wasn’t planning to race fast himself.

Collecting Benchies at the start! Photo from Clare at TMBR.

We set off too fast due to the downhill start. As with the GNR, this is hard to avoid. The bulk of the race after the Tyne Bridge out-and-back is a lot of twisting and turning in central Newcastle and I did start finding it a bit difficult to keep to pace at this point, especially when we went through what looked like the midway timing mats (quite a bit after 5k on my watch) in 30:08 and I knew I wouldn’t be able to match my first half. I kept up as best as I could up the hill to the Great North Road and the very tough final section along the gravel paths of the Town Moor to the finish line.

Geth paced it well but sub-hour still eludes me. I finished in 1:01:21, which was a 1 min 20 sec PB following my 1:02:41 at Sunderland in May. Getting closer. But not there yet.

Things that slowed me down on the day:

  • A less than easy course including the Town Moor’s notoriously tough gravel
  • Very strong winds, which in particular made the exposed Moor even tougher
  • The course measuring long on my watch (about 6.3 miles) – I know you have to allow for these things but the watch reckons I did 10k in 1:00:37! Swings and roundabouts…

As such, I know I can do it someday. Just need to find that golden combination of a fast course and good conditions.

It was lovely to be at the race with so many Benchies and to go for a pub lunch afterwards!

Post-race pub lunch
Post-race Benchie pub lunch! Photo from Jack at TMBR.

I’ve arranged one final crack at this distance for 2023. Geth and I are running the Leeds Abbey Dash in October. It doesn’t appear to be that flat (Yorkshire flat perhaps), so not the fastest of courses, but I am determined to give sub-hour another go.

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