Sunday 28 May saw the family at Raby Castle, Staindrop, 10 miles or so west of Darlington, eldest daughter to do the 5k fun run, myself to do the 10k, organised by Teesdale AC.
The strong breeze of Saturday hadn't abated overnight, and it told in the faces of the youngsters finishing the fun run. It wasn't going to be a day for fast times!
The last time I did this race, it was one loop round the Estate, starting and finishing by the castle. I'll always remember setting off near the front of the field, and as we were getting into our stride, a herd of red deer were gallopping parallel to us, to the right. The rest of the herd were to the left of the road, and the leading deer jumped right across the roadway, right in front of us! The leading runners and the galloping herd were on a collision course, when one of the larger animals veered off and away from us, taking the rest with her. A close call!
This time, the route was a two lapper. Now I quite like laps, as you get to know what to expect second time round. The route was actually quite enjoyable - steady climb up from the start alongside a wood, then a steepish drop down through the Home Farm (almost as big as the castle, very clean and tidy!), then a long gentle descent to the woodland section which runs alongside the perimeter of the deer park. The woodland section is the only bit off tarmac, but the forest track is well maintained. Out of the wood, there is a short, sharp climb up into the deer park, cutting across between the two lakes and in front of the castle.
Had a fairly decent run (59th out of 540), but the time (a shade under 42 mins) reflects the conditions. My 6th km - the steady climb up by the wood - took 5.02, whilst the 8th - after the Home Farm - took 3.35!
Only complaint on the day was the start was a good 20 min walk uphill from the parking, and with no warning in the final details. Eldest just made the start of the fun run by seconds, and I saw several tearful youngsters who missed it altogether. Not a good way to encourage them!
The kids had a good time on the adventure playground, before we all went round the castle - some magnificent rooms! A quick visit to the tearoom and shop, before a wander round the formal gardens, and it was 5pm, closing time and time to go home!