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Durham City Run Festival: A tale of all weathers

This year’s Durham City Run Festival was memorable for a number of different reasons.

In its 7th year, thousands took to Durham’s historic streets marking a celebration of all things running, as well as the University’s status as Sports University of the Year (as awarded by The Times and The Sunday Times). The finish of the 5K and 10K races returned to Palace Green, allowing runners to take in the amazing buildings within Durham’s World Heritage Site, spurring tired legs over the line.

And oh boy, did it rain. Yet despite some biblical rainstorms and occasional clap of thunder in amongst the variable weather, the Festival’s energy was electric.

This year, a team of nine staff from Advancement took part in the Festival. Many ran last year, so we caught up with some of them to find out why they entered and what they made of their experience this time around.

Most of the Advancement team at this year’s Durham City Run Festival. From left to right: Natalie, Deanne, Katrina (and Mouse the dog), Catherine, Tracey, Hamish, Laura & Sophie.

If you prefer to skip between the team members quickly, use the buttons below.

Tracey vs Hamish: Best of three?

Tracey: In 2022, Hamish and I entered the 5K and ran together for most of the race until the very end, when Hamish made a dash for the finish line, leaving me standing. At the time I’d recently recovered from a bout of Covid, but I still didn’t like the feeling of being beaten by someone who had hardly trained and felt very indignant! So I decided to make it my mission to beat Hamish in 2023…

Fast forward to this year and we had discussed taking on the 10K instead of the 5K. I signed up for the 10K, however Hamish ultimately opted for the 5K. He finished the 5K in a very respectable 28 mins 15 secs and I completed the 10K in a less respectable 1 hour 22 secs. Of course, I did have to tackle two hills on the 10K instead of just one on the 5K route.

So while my chance at getting my own back on Hamish wasn’t to be this year, I’m throwing down the gauntlet for 2024’s 10K. Let’s make this a fair competition and find out who is the fittest after all, eh Hamish?

Hamish: Tracey’s Covid / recovery last year got the better of her. However, aside from a general disdain for running, I had no such excuses. I’m pleased that I beat my time from 2022 and finished in the top third of male runners.

Tracey’s a strong runner and a good sport. A 10K is a tough task, and no fair comparison to my 5K this year. I’ll be back for the full distance next year!

Sophie: Beating my 2022 time

I started running in 2018 in preparation for the Great North Run which I completed in September 2019. I did Durham City Run’s 10K for the first time last year shortly after joining the University and we raised an amazing total of £1,255 for the Cystic Fibrosis Trust, a charity very close to my heart. It’s quite a tough route with lots of elevations involved but that’s what Durham is known for.

This year there were nine of us taking part and some of us have done the run before. I did the 10K again, but some team members did the 5K. Both routes started at the Market Place, went out to the racecourse, then the 10K continued along the river heading towards the city centre, finishing at the Cathedral which was lovely but the climb up to it at the end was challenging! This year, we ran to raise money for muscular dystrophy charity, Duchenne UK.

I was hoping to beat my time from last year (1 hour 7 mins) so my aim was to do the 10K in an hour and go just that little bit quicker. I didn’t quite make the 1 hour mark, but I did manage to beat my 2022 time, crossing the line at 1 hour 4 mins, which I’m really pleased with, especially since I had issues with one of my knees, and conditions were very different to last year’s sunshine, with pouring rain to contend with.  

I’d advise anyone to give running a go as it’s a really beneficial form of exercise. It’s good for your physical and mental health and helps you to escape from the world for a little while. A lot of people say it’s not for them but like anything you don’t know until you give it a go.

Deanne: Do a rain dance…

Author of our staff blog in 2022, Deanne took a more multi-media approach in the run-up to her 10K this year, sharing her running playlist and a couple of videos of her training across the UK. View her videos below to find out more about her approach to training, as well as coping with wildly varied weather conditions. Deanne, if you’re reading this, your wish for rain definitely came true on the day of the 10K! And now let’s hear it in her own words…

Deanne: Music can spark off so many emotions and our tastes vary to suite the occasion. As an early morning runner or jogger, depending on the morning, I love a catchy upbeat tune to set me on my way. Below are my top 5 songs that range from classics to the charts and an ear wig or two. So no apologies if one gets stuck in your head. And even better if it stays with you while you exercise. So wherever you are on your exercise journey let’s make a start and say – you’re just like my favourite song…

  1. Where Are You Now – Lost Frequencies, Calum Scott
  2. It’s My Life – Bon Jovi
  3. I’m Good (Blue) – David Guetta, Bebe Rexha
  4. Run – OneRepublic
  5. The HampsterDance song – Hampton The Hampster
Durham City Run Festival 2023: Training in the heat the month before the 10K race
Deanne explains her training and motivation for entering Durham City Run’s 10K race
Durham City Run Festival 2023: Training in Wales a week before the 10K race
Deanne takes us on a training run with her in Wales the week before Durham City Run’s 10K race

Natalie: A sketchnote journey

It’s often said that a picture is worth a thousand words. For Natalie, this takes the form of sketchnoting, and we’re delighted that she took some time to sketch out her experience of her 5K run.

Natalie: It was absolutely pouring down, so very different to last year’s glorious sunshine but we all pulled through and made it to the finish line.

Not sure if it’s because I fuelled my body incorrectly by having lots of ice cream a few hours before, but I did find it pretty tough. Still absolutely loved it though. 

Sketchnote of Durham City Run Festival 2023 by Natalie

Catherine: Fundraising captain

Catherine ran the 5K for the first time in 2022, and was back this year (against her better judgement) to repeat the 5K. She led the fundraising effort this year, drawing everyone from Advancement into a team to raise money for charity Duchenne UK, which is working tirelessly to find a cure for devastating disease Duchenne muscular dystrophy.

Thanks to fundraising effort, the team has surpassed their original target of £800. To add to this, Catherine also completed the 5K, setting a personal best of 34 mins 18 secs.

If you wish to show your support for the team by making a donation to Duchenne UK, you can still do so here.

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