On Sunday I took part in the British 10K in London. I ran with Darin McCloud a fellow Slimpodder who some of you will know has become a great running buddy for me – we’re really evenly matched paced wise and complement each other well. Due to distance we’ve never trained together but this is now the fourth race that we’ve run together, including the London Marathon.
When Darin and I signed up for this race months ago we had it earmarked as the one in which we would really go for it and hopefully bag a good PB. My PB at 10K is 1.12 and Darin’s is 1.10 and I think we both hoped to get somewhere close to 1.05.
But, as you’ll know if you’ve been reading my blog for a while I hadn’t done any training thanks to an injured ankle. In fact when I look back I’d done just 2 runs in the month preceeding the race, neither of more than 2 miles. Darin has also been suffering from an injury and had also not run for a number of weeks. So we’d both changed out goals for the day to just wanting to enjoy the race and get around in one piece with no pressure on the time.
The race started early so I’d organised everything that I needed the night before in what has become something of a pre-race ritual for me. Two of my Workplay bags were out ready to be used – the Fleetfoot II to carry my inhaler and phone on the run and my Gymwise II to carry my post race hoodie and recovery drinks etc.
I was up and dressed bright and early to meet Darin at Embankment at 8am. Nike were sponsoring the race this year and had provided each runner with a T-shirt with their race number already printed. I liked this as it meant I didn’t have to faff about pinning on my race number and worrying about whether or not it was straight!
I’d heard quite a lot about the British 10K, good and bad, after I’d signed up for it, so I had an idea of what to expect. I’d heard that:
*There’s no staggered start so everyone starts together regardless of pace
*The route was great running right in the heart of Central London
*The organisation was poor – especially at the end
*There’s usually a great crowd out to support people running
*There are no where near enough toilets
I can now confirm that all of these things are true!
After dropping our bags off and a quick stop for the toilet we made our way to the start which was a good 1.5km from the baggage area. The weather was drizzly and I’d brought my bin liner with me to keep me dry – I’m glad I did. It was wet and cold as we waited for over an hour for the race to begin
Finally, we got moving – we had been queuing in one direction along Picadilly and had to make a U-turn back down the other side towards the start line and only then did we realise that we were actually quite near to the front. There were people queuing to start the race as far as my eyes could see
FInally we were over the start line and into the race. We kept our pace down and under control and I felt pretty comfortable for the first 3km. The lack of staggered start meant that there was a fair amount of frustration among the faster runners who were weaving their way through the slower ones. I nearly got knocked over my a very angry fast man who seemed so desperate for a decent time that he didn’t care who he knocked into on the way. Not great.
The route was lovely – along the Embankment towards the City and then back towards Westminster Bridge
Darin and I both noticed that our cardiovascular fitness had decreased due to the lack of training – we had to slow our pace and take a few walking breaks to recover here and there. We were making good progress though and got to the 5km mark in around 36 mins.
On our way back down The Embankment the heavens opened and we got absolutely soaked through. I’ve never experienced conditions like that when running before and I’ll be glad if I don’t again, although with the summer we’re having I’m not going to bet against it!
We were soon heading across Westminster Bridge and back towards Big Ben – we’d picked up our pace a bit and knew that the end wasn’t too far away. We ran the loop of up Victoria Street and then around Parliament Square and up Whitehall towards the finish line. Saving a bit for a last push we crossed the finish line in 1.15.55. 3 minutes outside my personal best which given how little I’d trained I was actually really pleased with.
Then the debacle began. We had to make our way back to the baggage area to collect our things and also our medals, goody bags and T-shirts. I naively thought that this would be an orderly process, as it has been as most other races I’ve taken part in. Sadly this was not the case. I arrived back at my baggage bay to find bags randomly strewn about along the pavement – no-one was checking who was picking up which bag and anyone could have picked up whatever they wanted. That would have been OK if there area had been restricted to runners but it wasn’t – anyone could walk along and pick up a bag if they wanted to. I wasn’t impressed.
I then had to go to 3 different places to pick up my medal, goody bag and T-shirt. It was total chaos, as if no-one had considered the number of people who would be moving around the relatively small area trying to collect their belongings and post race goodies.
I was very glad to pick up my souvenir T-shirt as when I opened my bag I realised that my warm hoodie was soaked as our bags had been out in the rain, completely unsheltered and were as wet as we were. I was glad to be able to change into something dry and quickly make my way home into the warm and dry.
To be fair both the T-shirt and medal are cool
But at £50 for a 10K race they come at quite a price.
I had a great run and was pleased with how I did but I won’t be doing this particuar race again in a hurry. The lack of staggered start made for an uncomfortable race at times, the lack of organisation at the end was totally avoidable and amateurish in my opinion and for £50 it’s a very expensive race. I’m glad I did it this year in 2012 but I think I’ll stick to the BUPA 10K from now on, much better organised on a similar route and at half the price – much better value for money!