Thursday, 26 June 2014


With this particular event taking place in my home town, I didn’t need to hesitate to enter this 10K. I had heard great things from friends and fellow runners about this race and as it takes place over the May bank holiday weekend, why not head home for it!

Bayer 10K is organised by Newbury Athletic Club, with the sponsor being UK science researchers, Bayer. The race draws in around 1000 applicants, who gather in the market place for the start of this part road/part trail 10K.

Now, make note of what I just described this course as. Don’t be fooled into thinking it is a smooth sailing run. What you will experience is plenty of undulating parts combined with road, field, trail and towpath running. Sounds like a right mix I know, but it really is a fantastic, varied course.

The very beginning takes you down the town centre where you take a left turn and head up the hill alongside Bayer HQ. This hill looks steep but I didn’t find it too challenging to get up. This also is the only major incline in the race so its good to get it out the way.

Next you head up narrow residential streets (with some rather nice houses to gawp at) to a field, which I found rather random. This part was most knackering as the grassy terrain was a little uneasy underfoot and was on a slight hill. This however doesn’t last too long and then you are out by the Newbury Bypass.

You then head across a bridge over the dual carriageway and take a secret hidden turn (which in the 18 years I lived in Newbury, I never knew existed!) down a very steep track. From here on, you are in trail running mode. I’ve never done a trail run before so this was a shock to my system and I felt wiped out when I reached the 5K mark.

After a good two miles running along rocky, muddy terrain you then pop out by the town’s leisure centre and you are back on road again (phew!). This takes you back out to the town centre where you are greeted by a wall of whoops and cheers before you turn back on yourself up towards the towpath along the canal.

As I always like to say, when it comes to races along a canal, make sure you get all your over-taking done beforehand as the paths can get very narrow and you do tend to fall into single file running.

At this point, I was shattered and I could tell I wasn’t having a good race. It was also a very hot day and there weren’t as many water stations along the course as I expected (one at mile 2 and one just after 5K). Dehydrated, exhausted and quite honestly, irritated at my weakness, I began to feel rather ill and could have quite easily dropped out at the 8K mark. However, after seeing my best friends mum standing by a bridge along the canal, her encouragement and compliments spurred me on and I, rather slowly, carried on up the path. When we reached the end of this part, we looped round onto a long main road, which lead us back to the town centre. I have never felt so relieved to see a finish line and I managed to find some speed in my legs to churn out a mini sprint finish.

As soon as I crossed the finish line, I had this automatic thought that I hated this course. It wasn’t until I had collected my medal, spoken to fellow runners and recovered from the experience that actually, it was a really fun event. Not once did I feel bored along the way and finding it so challenging has made me want to return to try and smash my time from this year.

For a small local event, it was great to see organisers handing out medals and goody bags. Personally, I also had a fabulous day out with my running pals. Here is a snap shot of how I felt at the end (with my best friend). This photo sums up a good vibe, despite my feelings throughout the race.

Any setbacks? Not really. As with smaller races, toilets are limited and in this particular case, non-existent. However, nearby restaurants and coffee shops are welcoming to runners using their loos and everywhere you go there is friendly, helpful face. If there was any feedback that I would like organisers to consider, it would be adding an extra water station before the canal. If, like this year, it’s a hot day hydration is key and I personally did struggle not having a quick slurp of water after the halfway mark.


Course: 3/5
Scenery: 4/5
Facilities: 2/5
Water Stations: 2/5
Medal & goody bag: 5/5

My time: 49.31 (May 2014)


Find out more about Bayer 10 HERE.

Lipstick Runner.

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