Last year, I took part in the Run to the Beat 10k, which had rebranded from a half marathon in Greenwich to a 10k in Wembley. I was delighted to receive another invitation to take part this year as it was going to be the perfect opportunity to track my improvement over the past year.
Branded as London’s only music 10k, Run to the Beat is set in Wembley, following a course through high streets and residential areas, finishing in the shadows of Wembley Stadium. Beats are played to runners round the course and celebrities Sarah-Jane Crawford and Fran Newman-Young lent their support to the event by lacing up their trainers to take to the streets. The ticket cost of £37.60 also included access to the after party, featuring sets from DJs such as Marvin Humes and Jameela Jamil.
The organisers came in for some criticism last year regarding the lack of music on the course. This year they took steps to ensure that no one would be bored by putting together a special playlist on Deezer which runners could tune into on their phones when running through the quiet residential areas. I don’t usually run with music and was taking part with my friend Jo, so this didn’t bother me, but it was a nice touch for those who do run with music.
RTTB is a fairly challenging course, especially for flat road runners like me. Plenty of lumps and bumps with a particularly nasty hill between 5 and 6k, shortly followed by another sharp up. Jo had kindly agreed to run with me and I explained that I wanted to try to follow two even splits of 32:30 for a 1:05 finish – a steady approach for a well paced 10k and ideal for my half marathon the following week. My pacing is very bad at the moment as I have a tendency to rush out at sub 9 minute miles and then die a mile later. If someone can keep me steady, I’m fine.
Jo and I waited for the faster runners in our wave to start before we tucked into the back. There was a great atmosphere as we ran through the start with a few spectators lining the streets cheering, but things soon quietened down as we went into the residential areas. We kept a steady pace and a constant stream of chatter, but couldn’t help observing how there didn’t seem to be much atmosphere. We expected the residential areas to be quiet, but there wasn’t much excitement from the runners. This could have been partially due to the spacing between our wave and the next as other runners said how amazing it was. We bounded up the first hill easily enough, a far cry from walking up last year and we were soon approaching the first water station – bottles, hooray! A few quick swigs on the run and we were on our way.
Our Garmins soon beeped that we’d covered 5k in about 32:30 – bang on for our target. We crossed the course marked 5k in 33:10, slightly outside target, but we were unconcerned until The Hill of Horrors loomed in front of us. Jo gave me a pep talk on looking up, using my arms and focusing on my breathing and we tackled it. I’m proud to say that we ran the whole thing, overtook a lot of people and didn’t even really lose pace. We recovered on the down before going up again and soon we were approaching the 7k water station – cups this time. I am yet to learn the knack of drinking from a cup on the run and annoyingly had to slow to a brief walk to drink from it. Thirst quenched, we picked up the pace again. Kilometres 8 and 9 seemed to fly by and we enjoyed listening to the beats from the DJs as we ran round Wembley. At 9k, we upped the pace, ran through the electric tunnel and clocked a time of 1:05:40 (10.2km). Woohoo!
No goody bag on offer this time, but a cool medal, a technical t-shirt was provided, water available, Popchips, and Erdinger provided an alcohol free beer for rehydration after the event. £37.60 is steep for a 10k, but if you’re a fan of dance tunes, it’s not bad when you think it includes the after party.
I found the event slightly lacking in atmosphere compared to last year, but it was well organised. Ultimately, when an event is run through a residential area, it’s going to be quieter and it’s pot luck as to whether the residents are going to get involved or not. I gather from other runners that they had a great time, so maybe it depended on which wave you were in. I had a great run with a good friend, so I can’t moan too much.
Nevertheless, I was delighted with my run as I did what I set out to do and conquered those hills. Thanks Jo for pacing and thank you to IMG for providing me with a place. Now, I wonder if I can shave another 10 minutes off next year…?