It’s taken me a few years, but I’m slowly (very slowly, ba-boom chish) starting to appreciate the 10k distance. So when I was invited to take part in the Dame Kelly Holmes Trust Olympic Park 10k, I immediately said yes. I haven’t “raced” a 10k since January and I’ve got very slow as a result of focusing on distances for marathons and the failed ultra attempt. Having run around Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park before, I also had a good idea of what to expect from a route – flat and hopefully quite fast.
I was delighted to discover that the event was run by the guys at Run Through. I love their events. They are generally low-key, relaxed and fun at affordable prices, complete with quirky medals, fruit and flapjack. Race packs are collected on the day and a bag drop is offered. A lot of people describe their events as “organised chaos” and I don’t think this is unreasonable as they’re so relaxed and chilled, you wonder how they always run without a hitch!
Two different distances were offered at this event and runners had the choice of the 5k or 10k, with the 5k runners setting off at 9.30am, the “elite” 10k runners at 10.00am and the mass 10k at 11.00am. The definition of “elite” was fairly relaxed at this event and taken on trust – if you expected to complete 10k in 55 minutes or less, you ran with the elite runners. It’s been 5 years since I could even vaguely entertain the possibility of a 55 minute 10k run, so needless to say I ran with the masses.
We lined up to start and Run Through did their normal thing of playing music and getting everyone in the mood to run – there’s always a great atmosphere at their events. We started promptly at 11am and the heavens opened. Yuck.
The route consisted of 2 laps around the Olympic Park and was run mostly on flat paths. Despite the monsoon tipping down on us, it was a humid run and it wasn’t long before I was sweating hard. I imagine it was like running in the rainforest, except it was an urban jungle. I had been a bit concerned about possible congestion, but the course avoided the narrow paths and it wasn’t long at all before it opened up.
Unfortunately, I can’t remember a huge amount about the course and the sights, so focussed was I on the rain! I do remember just before the 3k mark, there was a short climb as we ran along the road and then it was a swift right back towards the park. The end of each lap saw runners run past The Podium Bar & Kitchen, where supporters sheltered from the rain and called out support. This was the one stretch of the course that did get a little bit chaotic with pedestrians walking into the path of runners.
Each kilometre was clearly marked and there were plenty of marshals out on course directing us and giving out plenty of high fives and cheers. The marshals at Run Through events are brilliant, they always get into the spirit of the event and despite it being such a horrible day, they stayed incredibly cheerful despite being out in the rain for hours. Thank you.
I kept a steady pace for the first 5k, completing it in 32:16. My legs felt heavy and thanks to the humidity, I really felt myself tiring. I didn’t really have any target in mind when I started, but I thought after the first lap, I was probably looking at about 66 minutes – a few minutes slower than the beginning of the year but not unexpected. I ignored my watch and plodded along, allowing myself a look at my Polar at 9k.
I felt the red mists descend in front of my eyes and quickly decided I was going to push hard in the final kilometre and aim for 65 minutes. I gritted my teeth and prepared for pain.
And I ran. And I ran strongly. For that kilometre, I felt powerful and strong. And I finished in a chip time 64:25, making a final kilometre of 5:04. I CAN still run strongly! I DO still have it in me. How’s that for some motivation?
Once I got my breath back, it was time for a banana, flapjack and as an added bonus, a Dame Kelly Holmes Trust Olympic Park technical t-shirt.
And of course, the all important medal. Typically Run Through, delightfully quirky.
I’m so glad I took part in this event. It gave me a much-needed kick up the bum and it was exactly what I needed to clear my head after a stressful week, in a welcoming environment. This event is for everyone.
The Dame Kelly Holmes Trust is a great initiative aiming to “get young lives on track by using world-class athletes to empower young people facing disadvantage to realise the attitudes they need to fulfil a positive life.” Over 840,000 16 to 25 year olds in the UK are not in education, employment or training (NEET). Since the Trust was founded in 2008, they have reached over 250,000 young people across the country, with 70% of young people on the flagship programme “Get On Track” in employment, education or training by the time they completed. They are no longer part of the NEET statistic. Please click here to learn more.