I ran the London 10,000 for the first time four years ago and it holds some great memories: it was the first time I experienced a big, well-organised running event, and it had me hooked. I took part during 2013, 2014 and 2016 and couldn’t wait to return in 2017.
The trains were all out of sorts on Monday 29th May due to Thameslink works, so instead of the usual direct train I had to change twice, which added a fair amount of time. Not the end of the world though, and it was a short walk from Embankment tube station to the Mall. The Event Village was easy to find and well signposted, with a large area full of catering and beverage carts and deckchairs. There were more than enough portaloos although luckily I didn’t have to make use!
I’d consumed a gulp of horrible beetroot juice, spontaneously purchased from Cafe Nero at the train station, but stupidly, for the first time ever I didn’t have my usual banana, cereal bar and Lucozade or water before I set off. I was running slightly behind and realised at the last minute that I hadn’t bought along a headphone adaptor for my new iPhone 7, only the headphones which had no headphone jack to go into, and I physically can’t run without music! I was on the verge on turning around and coming back home (genuinely) when my cheerleader remembered that he had his work phone on him – an old iPhone with a headphone jack. It had no music on it and was at 17% battery, so we had to hurriedly download the Heart FM radio app (after forgetting Apple IDs and resetting passwords…oh the pressure!) and worrying that the battery would die before I even set off. Running without music in my ears would have been a deal-breaker for two reasons: firstly because I’m asthmatic and breathe heavily when I’m running, so if I can hear it then I put myself off completely and end up concentrating on breathing too much and don’t relax into running. Secondly because listening to other people breathe and wheeze while running also puts me off and throws my breathing pattern, and then I think about my own breathing again and it has an effect. Plus, I find music really motivational and it definitely carries me when the going gets tough.
So anyway –the race started at 10am (when the news and traffic announcements were playing through the radio app), and I was already feeling dehydrated, having stupidly not drunk all morning. The weather was super muggy – no sun at all and quite cloudy, but it felt about 20C. I was wearing a tiny thin Adidas vest & sports bra combo with Primark mesh cropped leggings, Brooks Glycerin 14 trainers and with black 1000 Mile trainer socks, but still felt too hot at points.
The well-organised colour-coded starting pens were manned by event staff who checked to confirm that runners were in the right wave. This is imperative for good organisation and works really well. There were four waves in total; I was in the second wave (‘black’) and we set off around 4-5 minutes after the first wave, with a fun countdown and motivating music. The course, as always for the London 10,000 event, was lined with supporters/general public and charities, with a number of brass bands and drummers set up to play music along the route; I personally love this touch. The two water stations were well staffed, and cleaners were efficiently removing the empty bottles from the pavement without getting in anyone’s way. The sprinkler ‘showers’ en route were a welcome feature and seemed to be popular, too – I found it refreshing! The atmosphere was electric, absolutely amazing, and I felt proud to be running a beautiful, scenic course amongst thousands of other runners.
The Finish Line was wide with a large digital clock on display, and an organised production line of sorts where volunteers snipped off the timing tag from all runners’ shoes and handed out goody bags containing an Adidas event t-shirt, water, Lucozade, Yushoi rice sticks, Jordan’s Frusli bar, Meridian Cashew bar and a large, heavy bespoke medal. Photographers lined up just after the exit to take pictures of runners with their medals, and the whole Finishing element seemed seamless and well managed. I found my cheerleader with ease and we exited the event village without trouble or queues. I didn’t have to use the baggage drop so can’t comment on that, but the whole experience was very positive and I’m so glad I took part. No negatives from my point of view, aside from my own stupidity. I was dehydrated, sluggish, hungry and listened to the news and traffic announcements again through the radio app as I struggled through the last 400meters and over the finish line – not exactly motivating, but without the phone and Heart FM app I wouldn’t have run at all. Lesson learned!! Unusually terrible organisation on my part, and a bit of a struggle overall.
I paid about £28 to enter this race and can’t quite believe the quality and high standards. Other events charge around £50 entry and don’t supply goody bags, colour-coded start pens, this amount of photography or even half this level of organisation. I would highly recommend the London 10,000 event to anyone and everyone. If you’re going to take part in a London 10K, it without a doubt has to be this one. Well done, Vitality! See you next year 🙂