Monday, 2 February 2015

Event Review : London Winter Run

Sunday morning was bitterly cold, although it didn't look it from the safety my friend's flat, where I'd stayed the night in preparation for the London Winter Run. I'd been awake since 6am, paranoid I'd miss my 8am alarm and fretting about whether my overnight bag would fit in the luggage sack we'd been issued with (it didn't, the bag split but they were still kind enough to take it).
The London Winter Run had been widely advertised and promoted in the running cycles I'm part of. A 10k taking in the sights of London in aid of Cancer research with a super medal? Yes please! I'd been disappointed that it clashed with Tough Guy and when it became evident that I wasn't going to be doing that I jumped at the chance to enter. It was a bit of a trial getting my place in this event, and it wasn't cheap, but I persevered so that I could run with friends and in particular fellow Team Bear member Alexa. There was also a team from BoxBellFit and a lot of the RunFitUK crew taking part too so if I hadn't gotten in I'd have gone along to support anyway. Plus there was going to be gin and lunch afterwards so...

In the weeks leading up to the event plenty of information was emailed out and my pack arrived in the mail in good time. My start time was emailed to me with the assurance I could shift into a later group if need be. Just as well because trains into London wouldn't have gotten me there in time. As it was I crashed with a friend and it was a short bus and tube journey. The bag drop at Pall Mall and start line were dead easy to find; the marshals were knowledgeable but it was simple enough just to follow the crowds of people carrying pale blue bags. Bag drop was quick and easy and miraculously there were no queues for the loos.
Running buddies
The start line was a little chaotic. There was no way of checking who was in which wave but the organisers did a decent job of filtering us over the start line in smallish groups in an attempt to reduce congestion on the course. I did hear "Let It Go" a few too many times though... and the cold *was* bothering me! Out of the wind and in the crowds it wasn't so bad but I was desperate to get moving in order to warm up.

I hadn't really been sure how I was going to approach this event. Tough Guy was going to be one of my "A" races and although this was a pretty flat course I wanted to run with Alexa and enjoy the route. I'd paid enough after all! It was also pretty crowded by the time we got over the start line so I figured a PB wasn't on the cards and settled in to a social run. And what fun it was. The atmosphere was fantastic; lots of people in costume or charity vests, chirpy marshals and "motivators" all along the course as well as cute signs. The snow zones were kinda fun but felt a little half hearted. Passing the churches that had their bells peeling out was rather special though.
Look at us all! From the top of the London Eye (c) Human Race
The route was mostly an out and back course that took us past the Eye, St Paul's and in sight of many other London landmarks. If you wanted an iconic London event that wasn't a half or full marathon, this was pretty much the one for you. There was a water station around the half way point and lots of photographers so I fully expect some horrific photos to be made available to me at an extortionate price in the near future.
Photo by Alexa
Crossing the finish line to cheers is always fun and the polar bear hugs were a lot more welcome than I'd anticipated. A great way to get a bit warmer. Medals had to be hunted down a bit but boy is it a good'un! There was no goody bag but water and plenty of coco vita was on hand. A banana wouldn't have gone amiss though...
Photo by Alexa
Collecting our bags posed no problems and I think we all left in good spirits, if rather shivery. I kept adding layers throughout the afternoon and although the hot gin cocktails we had certainly helped I only really warmed up when I finally got home to a bath and a mug of tea.
Hot gin cocktail (you can tell it's medicinal, it's in a medicine bottle) and uber peanut brownie.
It was a fun day and a nice event but at £35 for early entry and £45 for late entries it was a bit pricey for my taste. Worth it perhaps for tourism purposes and of course for a good cause but I'm unlikely to enter next year. I've seen other reports that weren't overly impressed with the organisation; I thought it was really good, especially for the first of it's kind, and frankly I'd expect no less from Human Race. It was just a shame my entry process was turned into a bit of a shambles.

Here's to conquering the cold!

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