Temple Newsam Ten or TNT for short is a 10 mile trail race held by St Theresa’s Athletic Club. The race begins and ends at the Temple Newsam Estate situated in the East Leeds region and takes in muddy forest trails, gravel paths, grass and hills. A great mix and a good challenge for the new year!
This years race featured over 800 participants which reflects how popular it has become in the last few years since its inception in 2016, especially as the ever popular Brass Monkey event was held on the same day.
We set off early from the North East to arrive in plenty of time for registration. Excellent parking facilities are available on site and are situated just a few minutes walk from both the registration building and start area. It was evident from arrival just how well organised this event is. Collecting race numbers was straight forward with minimal queues and plenty of helpers and marshalls buzzing about willing to help and chat about the course. A team were also handing out free Red Bull! The female toilet queues were the only thing I could see that might be improved, but it looks like everyone got there in the end!
A good atmosphere was in the air with several large showings from various running clubs. Plenty of banter and some apprehension too as the course has the nickname ‘TNT – Tough Not Timid’! On a personal level, 10 miles would be the longest I’d run since October and injury over the winter. I’d run a flat 8 mile and 9 mile during the week before, but I’d say the mud and hills on this course would be the equivalent of running a flat 11 or 12 miles. My plan was to take it steady and aim for between 1:25-1:30 (My flat 10 mile PB is 1:09 when fit!) and use it as London Marathon training.
I started quite far back in the field in order not to be caught up running too quickly early on. The run starts with a lap of a grassy field before meandering down through the golf course and into the forest. The forest path is quite narrow with room for only 3 people side by side. If you’re going for a fast time you need to ensure you’re as far forward as possible as it’s difficult to overtake on this section. There are also further sections early on where single file running is necessary and no overtaking is possible before it opens up onto wider country tracks. After a steady start running alongside a fellow club member I was on target for around 1:32 after 3 miles but I felt good and knew I had more in the tank.
My 4th mile was the fastest of the race at 7:55 as the tracks and paths widened and generally the course elevation continued to head downhill. I was picking off runners quite comfortably now before the elevation began to climb again. There are some fairly hefty inclines after mile 4 but I still felt strong and continued to overtake as people walked or slowed on the hills. My mile times came down to between 8:30.8:45 consistently for the rest of the race, despite being the tougher part of the course. I felt fully in my stride and was delighted to be able to produce good times on this terrain.
The course loops around before approaching the underpass section that was used in the early part of the race. A nice hill to contend with here just after the only water station on the route. I was dealing well with the hills in general despite my lack of fitness, and within a minute of reaching the tops I was good to go again. A sure sign that fitness is returning! For those struggling on one particular hill, the organisers had arranged for ‘Hills Angels’ to run down to encourage people up. A nice touch!
The course is well measured according to my Garmin, pretty much beeping within 10 meters of each mile marker. The last mile however seemed to measure long for several people I spoke to, with my course coming in at 10.08 miles. That is just cruel after having to endure all the hills and mud! Speaking of which… The last section before the final lap of the field to finish consists of a runaway downhill farmtrack before climbing up the other side, only to be met by a short, steep and leg sapping uphill path through the trees onto the grass. I heard a few swear words on this section it has to be said! It is also pretty hilarious once at the top because most peoples legs were not working. It took a good minute before the feeling came back, just in time for a sprint to the line!
This was a really enjoyable run and nice to face the challenge of just getting round rather than chasing a PB. I ended up running 1:27:25 so pretty much bang in the middle of my initial target time.
It was bitterly windy and cold at the finish but a quality goody bag containing water, foil blanket, chocolate, crisps, excellent medal and t-shirt was very well received. Another free can of Red bull was collected for the journey home. All for just £15 too! (EA Registered Athletes, Non affiliated runners £17). Excellent value for money.
Certainly one I would recommend and I look forward to going back next year!