I pulled out of this event last year when temperatures hit 33C on the day I was due to run, and was gutted.
Last year, the ‘I Move London’ Relay took place continuously for 30 days and 30 nights, and saw 2000 participants run 5K and 10K legs through day and night to complete the 4014.52 mile course – beating the previous Guinness World Record for the longest, continuous running relay by 510 miles. It raised over £50,000 for its charity partners, and runners came from all over to run with ‘Rod’, the baton.
I was registered to run in a 10K ‘leg’ on 25th July and was really looking forward to it. I’d seen loads about it on social media, and one of my colleagues had taken part. However, that day the temperature reached 33C and I found it too hot to even sit outside for long periods of time. I really struggle to run in the heat and don’t enjoy it. The Relay 10K would not have had the water stations, mist showers or crowd/encouragement of mass running events; and so regrettably, I pulled out at the last minute.
Entry this year cost just £15 and I didn’t hesitate to sign up for a 10K stage taking place on Thursday 4th July. I entered into the 7:20pm leg, as I work from home on Thursdays and could easily jump on a train and get to Potters Fields Park, London, in plenty of time.
The entry fee included a bespoke event t-shirt, bespoke event medal, Trek Protein Nut Bar, and Water In a Box at the finish line. Such a bargain for just £15! The race instructions were emailed and it all seemed really simple.
However, a week or so before the event, an away-trip to my work HQ in Reading was added into my schedule, meaning that I would be traveling back on Thursday 4th July instead of working from home as usual. I tried to leave work as early as I could, and drive back as fast as I was able (!), but eventually had to admit defeat and email the organisers of the Relay, asking if it is was at all possible to be transferred from the 7:20pm stage to a later one. They replied back straight away, reassuring me that it was fine, and confirming that they had moved me to the 8:30pm leg. PHEW.
I was beginning to think that this event is cursed, but ended up having enough time to get home, get changed and jump on a direct train from Tonbridge to London Bridge. I grabbed a bottle of water and protein bar from Pret a Manger and consumed them as my ‘dinner’ (!) before walking the short distance over to Potters Fields Park, arriving around 8pm. I checked in and picked up my event t-shirt, using nearby portaloos to swap tops over.
I was wearing USA Pro lycra shorts under Nike Dry-Fit shorts, black Primark sports bra, Nike waist gel-holder belt, and black 1000 Mile trainer socks with Nike Free Rn 5s, resulting a super comfortable outfit. The weather had reached mid-to-high 20s throughout the day and felt as though it was still around 18-20C as it approached our 8:30pm relay time.
The Relay team had a small baggage area where I left my belongings, and my group stood and watched as the wave previous to us (the one I should have been in!) came running around the corner with the baton. There was a lovely atmosphere as the volunteers/marshals all clapped and cheered, took photos and presented the runners with their medals, cereal bars and water.
We had a ‘swapping over of the baton’ photo, with both teams holding onto it, before my group set off. There were seven of us in total and they were the nicest, friendliest guys. We’d never met before but chatted for the whole 10K route, discussing events and our shared love of running. I had my Apple AirPods in but didn’t use them at all.
The route was 5K up the length of the river, over the bridge, and then 5K back down the other side of the river, running over Tower Bridge back to the Relay tent. London is a busy City and some of the areas were choc-a-block with tourists and drinkers, but it wasn’t too severe, and didn’t affect us (or them!) too much. We paused at the London Eye to take a few photos, which was lovely! It was warm, so I quickly consumed a Torq Lemon Drizzle gel to give me some liquid and a little boost.
Another lady and I (can’t remember her name!) stayed at the front for the whole 10K, leading the others, and I was really surprised by that. I’d been panicking that I wouldn’t be fast enough to keep up with the other runners in my wave, and worrying about being left behind at the back of the pack and coming in last. But it was quite the opposite. For the first time – probably ever, in my seven years of running – I felt like a good, strong runner. I was full of beans, and I was running well and with confidence. One of the guys in our group even said: “You have a really love gait, it’s brilliant” – when I’ve always been self-conscious of my gait. I’m really not sure what’s changed this year, but I feel like I’m running the best I’ve ever run, and it’s a great feeling!
We’d been taking it in turns to hold the baton and it just so happened that I was holding the baton as we finished our leg, which was the cherry on top of the cake! I got to hold the baton for our ‘swapping over of the baton’ photo with the next set of runners, who were ready and waiting. It was a proud moment!
The volunteers/marshals hung medals around our necks and handed around the protein bars and water. I said goodbye to the lovely runners in my wave and set off back to London Bridge train station, feeling super happy. I really enjoyed the London Relay and had an incredible evening. I’m so glad that I made the effort to transfer my time and travel up to the City. This event boosted my running confidence and I’d definitely recommend it to others. I’ll be back for more! 😊
NEXT UP: Race For Life 5K (Maidstone), Saturday 6th July 2019