I love Decathlon. I was introduced to the store a few years ago and have purchased much of my running kit from there since. They offer one of the biggest selections of sports equipment I’ve ever seen, great quality at very reasonable prices. One of their unique selling points is the sheer number of sports they cater for, it isn’t just the mainstream. They stock equipment for about 70 different sports, from the more mainstream running and football, to archery and rock climbing. Simply put, if you want to get started in a new sport and don’t want to spend a fortune, check out Decathlon.
Decathlon are also keen to encourage the local community into getting active and this year, they introduced a new initiative – The Decathlon Running Series. This is a series of FREE 5k races suitable for all abilities held at Decathlon stores throughout the country. Unfortunately, I couldn’t take part in the event at the Surrey Quays store earlier in the year but I was invited to take part in the Belfast event as a guest of Decathlon. As some of you know, I used to live in Belfast so I jumped at the opportunity to go back. I wasn’t a runner when I lived there, so I was really excited about taking the opportunity to go back as a runner. The Belfast event was slightly unique in that they chose to run a 10k route instead of the usual 5k.
Registration for the event was easy and it’s advisable to do it quickly as the events can fill up, especially with a limit of 400 runners per event. Participants simply choose which event they wish to take part in and can also sign up their friends with the group entry option. All runner details are asked for, as is standard in organised races and you’re also reminded to sign up for the FREE Decathlon membership card as this entitles you to a goody bag worth £10 at the end of the race. An email with race details is sent out a few days in advance and race number collection on the day is quick and easy. I was also pleasantly surprised to discover that all runners were provided with a technical t-shirt to run in. We could choose from yellow or pink, naturally I opted for pink while Ellen and Corey who joined me on the trip went for yellow.
We had a quick look around the store while we waited to start and were shortly joined by my friend Lindsay, who was running her first ever 10k, just 3 weeks after having a baby…Hardcore. She said she just wanted to finish and wanted to do 1:30ish. I said I’d pace her round while Corey and Ellen started together, both running good races, including an awesome PB for Corey. Bella, our lovely Decathlon host also ran a great time in her first 10k race.
Running conditions were perfect. Cool, sunny and best of all, flat. I took Lindsay through on a walk-run strategy and she racked up a 5k PB in 40ish minutes and completed the race in 1:29:57. Pacer job done. She struggled a lot in the back half of the race as she was suffering a bit – be sure to check out her brilliant recap here on why running is sometimes so painful, the girl is a rockstar. I loved the course, which was out and back, starting at the Holywood Exchange, heading towards George Best City Airport with great views of Samson and Goliath, the mighty cranes before turning around and heading back again. I would love to run this again next year and train properly to get under an hour. I think this year, I was in about 65 minute shape, but I hadn’t been well so it was really nice to pace Lindsay who was awesome.
Although we were the last finishers, we got a huge cheer as we crossed the line and I gave Lindsay a hug. This event is for everyone and 30 minutes or 90 minutes, you’ll be welcomed and cheered in equal measures.
It’s not too late to get involved this year! The next Decathlon Running Series event (5K) is at Southampton on November 20th. Check it out!