Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Event Review : Glow In The Park

Running at night is usually a bit of a chore, something that we are forced to do in the winter if we wish to avoid the "dreadmill". It can be cold, miserable and fraught with danger unless draped with lights and reflective clothing. It can be an adventure, running in the wee small hours as part of a relay with tens of other weirdos in head torches. But rarely is a run as fun as something like Glow In The Park.
The concept is very similar to the Electric Run I took part in last year; a 5km route designed to be run in the dark, dotted with brightly lit "glow zones". It's taking place at locations up and down the country with entry fees starting from as little as £15.50 (per person in a team of four) and is very much an event rather than a race.
Kitted out in the brightest things we could find
I entered myself and my mum into the Windsor event which was held at Dorney Lake, a place I've visited several times for races in the past. It happened to be my mum's birthday so we donned our brightest running gear and packed a bottle of fizz for after and set off to have a fun time. 
On arriving at Dorney you would be forgiven for thinking there wasn't anything much going on, so vast is the space, but the race village was still jumping with neon clad groups soaking up the tunes, daubing each other with face paints and watching the fire performer. We collected our race numbers and complimentary head bands, festooned ourselves with glowsticks and switched on our head torches. We were ready to party!
Start party was good fun. We danced away the time before our start, took loads of photos and chatted to the MC (who was very good). He reminded us to take lots of videos and photos, to enjoy ourselves and encouraged us to tweet about our experience.
Although we'd signed up to a particular wave it was all rather informal and groups were being set off every 5-10 minutes. We'd signed up to the last wave of the night, at 9pm, wanting to run when it was really dark and get the full effect of the glow zones. Unfortunately this meant that the course was rather empty and although the experience of running in the dark was fun, there wasn't as much atmosphere as there might have been earlier. 
The Time Tunnel
Glow In The Park is very inclusive and a perfect beginners event. It's not timed so there's no pressure. In fact you're encouraged to take your time, to boogie in the glow zones, dance amidst the bubbles and frolic in the foam. Some people were running for charity, some were walking and there were groups just having a laugh. We ran at a comfortable pace between zones and stopped at each one for a little bit. The course was well marked with flashing lights and illuminated arrows. 
As we approached the finish we saw dad, who had been rather ingenious and popped some torches under an umbrella as we could spot him; there was no chance he would have been able to pick us out. We crossed the finish line and were presented with a glow-in-the-dark medal and a bottle of Gatorade. The music was still going and people were still milling around, indulging in post-event coffees and chips. For us though, it was back to the car for some birthday fizz and an after party at home.
In contrast to the Electric Run, I would absolutely do this event again. In fact, due to the nature of it we're thinking of entering the London one in November as a family, dad included, as it's the day after his birthday. Dad does not run so we'll walk it and choose an earlier wave so as to enjoy more of the atmosphere. It's value for money, as these things go and a great reminder of how much fun a run can be.

Have you taken part in an event like this? Did you enjoy it? Would you do it again?  

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