The British 10k London Run, July 2015

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Trek and Run were supported during this event by;

Salba Chia 

Gore Running Wear

Push Nutrition

On Running

Columbia Sportswear

Helly Hansen

Bloc Eyewear

and

Garmin Actions Cameras

First of all, here’s a film made by Dave W whilst taking part in the event to give you an idea of the course and the atmosphere.

Part 1 by Dave W

This is a huge running event, one of Britain’s biggest in fact, and having gotten our entries sorted I was so amped up for the race I posted something to that effect on my Facebook page. There was going to be over 15,000 people, a great atmosphere for sure, and we’d been running through and past some of the capital’s most iconic landmarks, it was going to be brilliant!

But many Facebook friends didn’t agree. In fact, the response was almost entirely negative. They’d heard on the Runner’s World forum that the race was badly organised, that the atmosphere was dead, that the crowd support was lackluster and the route poorly planned. It wasn’t worth the train fare to get there, some who’d done it before said, I was going to have a dreary day.

In retrospect, looking back on the race, it’s clear that they were either talking about a different event or had been badly informed, but it’s worth addressing what they said all the same as I’m sure many others had read the Runner’s World comments and come to the conclusions that they had, and that’s a terrible shame and something that needs to be put right.

Organisation; this event may well have been badly organised in the past. I wouldn’t know, I wasn’t there. But I can say that it was well organised this time. My race pack – which contained a program, a decent tech t-shirt, Union Jack laces and my race number and baggage tag, arrived by post in plenty of time.

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The program answered every question I had. And on race day itself the marshals were relaxed but obviously in control and pretty friendly, considering the amount of people they were dealing with. I’ve taken part and reported on numerous events, here and overseas, and I don’t see how anybody can say that this event is badly organised. Everything was as it should be and I had no issues at all with anything.

Overcrowding; another complaint was that there were so many people taking part that runners had seen others just starting the event even after they themselves had already finished. In my experience, unless the route has changed dramatically, I don’t see how this can be true as you finish near Horseguards and the start line is near Hyde Park Corner, about a km away across central London. It’s true that whilst waiting for my free post-race massage on the corner of Pall Mall I could see the final runners still coming down the road from Piccadilly Circus, but when I’m doing marathons the lead runners tend to finish in about 2 hours 10 minutes and the back markers can take up to 7 hours. Is this a cause for criticism? I don’t think so. These races are for everybody, of all abilities. Some are always going to be slower and having a staggered start system, where you release runners in waves, is common in almost every big event where city streets are too small to have a great many thousand runners all heading off at the same time. As far as I’m concerned it’s great to have so many people involved in a running event. It’s good for them, it’s good for the countries health system and it’s good for everybody who enjoys the intense feeling that comes with having 15,000 excited and fired up people in the same place releasing a positive vibe. Here’s a couple of views I took from the start line. In the first you can see the waves of runners on the right hand side of the road, waiting to be led around to the start line, which is directly below the balcony I was standing on.

VIRB Picture

VIRB Picture

VIRB Picture

There was also plenty of water on offer and you didn’t have to think at all at the end of the race in order to get to the baggage drop, it was well marshalled all the way up The Mall and then on up to the steps to Pall Mall.

The Crowds; I can see why previous runners might complain about lackluster support. The crowds seemed to be out to cheer on their own friends, rather than support the event as a whole, so often people were quietly looking on rather than providing a tunnel of noise to run through (except at Trafalgar Square). But then again, this is so often the case. Perhaps only in the marathons in Athens and Toronto have I experienced anything different, so it’s not surprising that London is like the majority of other places.

The Route; this is not a Personal Best course, for sure. There are several small hills and 6 points at which you make a sharp turnaround and double back on yourself that added a minute or 2 onto our times. But on the plus side you do pass Piccadilly Circus, Trafalgar Square, Regent Street, Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament, Westminster Abbey and Whitehall, so if you’re looking to run through the major sites of the city, this route has been well planned with that in mind.

The Atmosphere among Runners; watch the film, especially the part where we begin our own run and pass the line of people waiting for their own wave to start, hopefully this will answer any critics of the race vibe. Many of my fellow runners are waving and shouting encouragement, they were as ‘up’ and buzzing as you’d expect anybody in a big city, western event to be. This is England, people often aren’t as unconditionally friendly and open as they are in say Sri Lanka or Malawi so it’s naive to expect them to be so. But in saying that I thought the atmosphere was good and it certainly wasn’t anything to complain about.

The race was set up to be a very patriotic experience. Before the start 3 verses of the national anthem were played and there were British flags everywhere (and many runners had the race t-shirt on, which was red, white and blue). I started at the front and had a clear road to run into. The first km or so leads gently uphill past The Ritz and then you begin a series of up and downs (I never knew central London was so hilly, it doesn’t become clear until you run it!) that hopefully my film gives a good account of. The final half km was along Whitehall, and if you had anything left to give you could really push it along here as it’s flat and very straight. We didn’t have much left so we just cruised in as best we could; this is us with 50 metres to go.

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There were 2 or 3 water stations on the way and when we finished another bottle of water was handed to us as we walked to bag drop/medal collection. It was at the bag drop area that we also lined up to get our free massage, I guess we waited about 10 minutes before we were seen and this was a good opportunity to stretch out, which I almost always forget to do in the midst of the euphoria that sweeps over the end of a big race.

Our race times were texted to us within the hour and the next day we could see the complete results online; here are ours, at the bottom.

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Finally, take a look at the medal, a very nice momento of a great event.

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Part 2 by Dave S

If there’s one thing us runners are great at, apart from running of course, it’s complaining when we’re dissatisfied with a race. And if there’s one event which has been ripped to pieces in reviews it’s the British 10k London Run. Over the past few years Runners World forum contributors have complained about the time of the race, number of water stops, medal design, t-shirt design, length of pre-race announcements, finish line cameras, baggage drop – the list really is endless, and even the event director Mike O’Reilly has come under fire with comments stating how uncooperative he has been in the past when people have complained.

Despite this terrible feedback I’d decided to take part in the event when I first started running in 2012 (when the event was sponsored by corporate giant Nike) and sure, the start had been a bit manic as no designated pens had resulting in slow runners getting in the way of faster runners, but I’d really enjoyed the event as we’d run through London with excellent crowd support and I had loved the post-race medal.

This year the British 10k would be celebrating its 15th Anniversary and as with 2014’s event it was being hosted by Vitality, one of our favourite event organisers, and the pre-race buzz about the event made it clear we were in for a great experience. The race information book showed how the route had changed slightly from previous years and although it would involve a total of 6 loop-backs, we’d run past a number of London landmarks including Eros, St James’ Palace, Nelson’s Column, Big Ben and Westminster Abbey and the route would take us along a few of the famous streets of London including Piccadilly, Pall Mall and Regent Street, and through Trafalgar Square and Parliament Square – truly one of the best tours of London a runner could experience in just 10 kilometres!

Race morning arrived and in the baggage area which was just a short walk from Piccadilly Circus Underground Station, a huge baggage tent had been set up and was staffed with loads of smiling volunteers with a Vitality stand offering free bottles of water if you were willing to give your name, address, inside leg measurements etc…

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Once my bag was checked in the start area was quite a way away from the baggage area (as per the warnings in the event booklet) but the walk took you up The Mall (towards Buckingham Palace), St James Street and then along Piccadilly past The Ritz which meant that even before we’d started running we were already taking in the sights, plus this gave a great opportunity for a short jog to loosen your legs (not that we’d be running for a while still of course!). Just before the start area a final toilet stop had been set aside in Green Park with some of the wobbliest portable loos I’ve ever experienced offering a definite fear of tip-over!

Once in the start area we had a bit of a wait until the actual race started and Dave and I watched from the start area (the joys of a media pass!)…

11125441_10153389617256648_1844054821_n…as the separate waves were gently ushered by an army of start-area volunteers with ropes into their start positions. The starting ceremonies ran exactly as scheduled with a welcome address from the Lord Mayor of Westminster followed by the full 3 minute 35 second long national anthem, then after a final countdown we were off – out into the streets of London…

The 10km route centred around Piccadilly and passed all the landmarks I mentioned earlier and despite knowing this definitely wasn’t a personal best course with those 6 out and back loops and a number of gradual inclines and declines, the buzz in the area meant Dave and I were both feeling great so we decided to give it a go and try for the best time we could achieve. And in fact one positive about all of those loop-backs was that the route covered such a small footprint that crowd support was present throughout the race, despite the early start, and as cheesy as it sounds I even found myself riling up the crowds by screaming ‘Come on London – make some noise!!’ (Thank-fully they responded with a cheer and didn’t just stare at me with a blank look, although that may have been because they noticed Dave’s head-cam…)

One other thing which had concerned me before the race had been the location of the water stops. The event information had described drinks stops at 4.5km, 5.5km and 6.5km which sounded crazy as these seemed much too close to each other, however the event organiser had obviously realised it was too warm for such a strange drinks layout and thankfully on the day they’d spread them out much more evenly between the final 6km with manned stations handing out bottles approximately every 2km (and even with the lid off most of the time).

As we crossed the finish line we discovered we were a couple of minutes behind the time we’d hoped to achieve (no personal best this time) and as the actual finish area is based around the baggage tents we had a bit of a walk before we could collect our medals. In part this walk was a good idea as it encouraged participants to stretch their legs out plus the walk route took us alongside the race route (offering a chance to cheer on our fellow race participants still out on the course)…

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…however once back in the finish area the medals had been split between the baggage tents and a tent for people with no baggage, and as most people had decided against bringing a bag this resulted in huge queues as participants waited to collect their medal from three very stressed volunteers manning the medal tent!! On the plus side however, free massages were on offer from YourPhysioPlan.com and despite the medal tent delay, there were an abundance if people manning the baggage tents with all bags laid out in order so they were fast moving and very well organised.

Before taking part in this event, both this time and in 2012, one of the main complaints I’d read about the race was how it’s geared more towards fun runners than real athletes and to be honest I don’t think that’s such a bad thing. Sure, we’d started upfront and although we’d began our run at quite a fast pace (3:30 min/km according to my watch) some people had overtaken us while some had gradually fallen back. All the pre-race documents and the whole atmosphere of this event make it clear this isn’t a race where you should be chasing a time – as mentioned earlier, the number of loop-backs make that pretty much impossible anyway! This is a race which celebrates everything British and offers a great chance to run through London taking in the sights while soaking up the atmosphere, and I really do hope Vitality continue their involvement and keep this race on track so it continues to be one of the great London events!

To discover more about the event, please visit http://www.thebritish10klondon.co.uk/

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