Cancer Research UK London Winter Run – 31st Jan 2016

Trek and Run were supported during this event by;

Salba Chia 

&

Helly Hansen

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First up, here’s a short video we shot during the event, to give you an idea of the course and atmosphere.

By Laura Kimberley:
On Sunday 31st January over 12,000 people assembled in Trafalgar Square for the London Winter Run 10k. This is the second year of the Winter Run series organised by Cancer Research.

We had been previously given a start time of 10:18am and expected to be standing around for a long while considering that the first wave set of at 9:30 however when we arrived at the start line it became apparent that all of the runners were herded into the same pen and then a row of Snowmen in a chain barricaded off where they wanted each new wave to start. This made the allocated start times meaningless and it became more of a first come, first served kind of operation. This made it possible for me and Dave to start in the second wave at about 9.40 which was great to not have to stand around for so long; however I do feel like we shouldn’t have been given wave times if this was how they were going to do it. If I’d arrived later (ready for my supposed actual start time) I’d have been pretty annoyed to find out I could have set off much earlier.

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The route was lovely. The road closures made it an absolute dream. I love London and I love exploring the city but traffic is notorious and busy roads combined with heavy pedestrian foot traffic often spoil my wanderings so to be able to run freely around central London without the fear of being barged, beeped at or run over was bliss. We passed landmarks such as Bank of England, St Pauls Cathedral and finished on Whitehall just along from Buckingham Palace. There were a few little uphill buts but nothing too steep and the light rain on the day made it perfect running weather and despite the large number of race participants I never felt like the route was too packed.

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Along the route there were two Snow Zones which consisted of a snowman with a giant water pistol/snow cannon thing firing flakes up into the air. It was actually pretty realistic as they didn’t go overboard with the snow so you really could imagine that it was snowing… for about 20 seconds. There was a drinks station halfway at Guildhall Yard where volunteers dressed a penguins gave out bottled water and at the finish line yet more volunteers (dressed as polar bears this time) rewarded you with a hug for your efforts and an absolutely gorgeous medal. This medal is truly something special; it’s silver and white with snowflakes and a little polar bear on it with a long blue ribbon and I honestly feel like it’s something that Elsa would have been proud of had she forged it in her ice palace in the mountains.

Overall I thoroughly enjoyed this event and would recommend it to anyone who loves London and would appreciate the chance to run through it unobstructed. The volunteers are fab, the supporters were great and it’s a really good bit of fun. I wouldn’t describe myself as a serious runner and my main goal is to try and enjoy myself which is something I definitely managed to do at the London Winter 10k. With the help of my lovely fiancé I even managed a PB!

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By Dave Sherman:
London truly is an awesome city to run in. Of course, this sentiment is often echoed by run commuters and city workers who run in their lunch breaks and it’s typically followed by the statement “and you can do it for free!”, but there really is something quite surreal about running through such a big and busy city on closed roads and events like the ‘London Winter Run’ create a brilliant and amazing opportunity to do just that while at the same time raising huge amounts of money for Cancer Research UK. Last year was the first ever London Winter Run and I’ll admit I’d heard mixed reviews about this inaugural event with complaints about the previous route, but with a new route and over 12,000 people taking part in its second running it’s clear this is an event which will continue to grow in popularity.

With an event village and bag drop situated at the foot of Nelson’s Column you’re heading past the main tourist sites before the race has even begun, and as we waited by the race start just outside Trafalgar Square there was an awesome buzz in the air as people took their obligatory pre-run selfies and jumped or jogged on the spot warming themselves up. As the race is held at the end of January it wasn’t quite as cold as it had been earlier in the season, but there was still a chill in the air and I’ll admit I was partly looking forward to seeing the sights and running through the closed roads, but also looking forward to running so I could warm up!

After a short wait and a quick, crammed warm-up, we were off and our sight-seeing trip though London began…  Straight away we passed through the top of Trafalgar Square with the National Gallery on our left and Nelson’s Column on our right, and before long we were running through the theatre district and along the Strand past the Adelphi Theatre (currently showing ‘Kinky Boots’) and Savoy Theatre (‘Guys and Dolls’). After passing through Holborn and Chancery Lane we headed into the financial district past the Bank of America, through the 5k halfway water stop at Guildhall, and alongside the Bank of England. Then after a short loop around St. Paul’s Cathedral we headed back towards Holborn, then the Strand and back towards Trafalgar Square. As we reached Nelson’s Column a slight divert took us along Whitehall, past the Horse Guards at the Barracks, and through the finish line – London sightseeing tour done!

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Except that’s not quite true… sure you can spend a race like this looking out for the typical tourist traps we all know and love, but what’s even more impressive (and what I’ve tried to highlight in my race video) is just how many amazing historical buildings you’ll see on a route like this if you take the time to enjoy your surroundings. For example; the route also passed ‘Bush House’ (the former HQ of BBC World Service Radio), ‘Maughan Library’ (the former HQ of the Public Record Office and now the main research library of King’s College), ‘Staple Inn’ (a beautiful tudor building dating from 1585 and the last surviving Inn of Chancery) and ‘St Sepulchre-Without-Newgate’ (also known as the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, and referred to as ‘the bells of Old Bailey’ from the nursery rhyme ‘Oranges and Lemons’) and while none of these names may sound familiar, they really are impressive buildings and the type of architecture which highlights just how much history London contains, not to mention how many beautiful buildings are crammed into such a small space.

Now I’ll admit part of me was concerned about the ‘Winter Run’ styling of the race as I’ve always found it quite cheesy when races use people in animal costumes as it can make a race feel more like a kids fun-run, but for this event they were out in force and were actually doing more than just standing around looking creepy! At the start area Snowmen armed with snow-guns were shooting the crowd as they passed through to the starting pens and acting as Snowman-chains to separate waves, and just after the halfway mark the penguins were offering high-5’s to runners as they reached the turn-around point at the Bank of England. The snow-zone located outside the Royal Courts of Justice was also a nice quirky part of the race as although at first it appeared slightly lacklustre with only 4 snow cannons being used – 2 on each side of a wide section of road, the snow/foam seemed to almost hang in the air creating a pretty cool effect (pun intended) as you passed through it! Finally a number of Polar Bears were on hand just past the finish line to offer their promised polar bear hugs, congratulate runners on completing the race and also to thank people for supporting the charity – a really nice touch which was really appreciated.

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Now I’ll admit that at £35 for entry this event will have most seasoned runners exclaiming “How much?! You can find 10k events in <random city name> for less than a tenner!” but I honestly feel this price is a steal just for the opportunity to run through closed roads in an awesome part of London. Add to that the fact you’re taking part in a really well organised event (Human Race have a great track record and they never disappoint!), you receive a brilliant medal at the end of the run as well an honest congratulations and hug from a polar bear, but most importantly you’re supporting a brilliant charity and let’s face it, the more events Cancer Research UK have running and the more support they receive to fund their research, the faster they’ll discover a cure for cancer. The Cancer Research UK London Winter Run is an amazing event and one we hope to complete again with an even bigger crowd in 2017.

To find out more about Human Race’s Cancer Research UK Winter Run Series (including their Winter Runs in London, Liverpool and Manchester and Snowflake Runs in Southampton, Edinburgh, Plymouth and Stoke) visit: www.winterrunseries.co.uk

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