Bupa 10k – The Home Coming

My very first running event was the Bupa 10k 2012, back then the thought of doing 10k still seemed impossible and the race itself was a serious struggle – almost giving in at 7km. It was a hot difficult race, but I managed to get over the line in 1 hour 9 minutes.

One year on and I’m back standing at the start line and it feels like coming home in a way. It was definitely a warm run, not as hot as last year but still sunny enough to give me some sun burn, and despite the nice route, which snakes past many of London’s landmarks – it’s riddled will bottle necks – which meant that it was difficult to get a good stride on. Despite the warm weather I tried to gun for a sub 50min, sadly the weather slowed me down a little but I got round in 52.10, which I’m more than happy with.

It’s great to see what I’ve achieved in a year, the run felt like it flew by, and because of the heat and traffic jam of runners preventing me from picking up any real pace I felt like I cruised my way round, even laughing to myself as I remembered how I felt at the 7km point last year. It has made me think about what I could achieve if I improved my training – so in June, the real fun is going to begin.

If you are looking for your first 10k event you can’t got wrong with the Bupa 10k, it’s so well organised and mostly flawless – the only thing letting them down is the bottlenecks, but they could resolve that by spacing out the waves of runners a little more.

I’ve already signed up for 2014’s race, lets see if I can improve more before then.

Edit: I forgot to mention seeing Mo Farah glide past us at our 3k, his 7k mark. The guy is amazing to watch, making it look so easy as he completed the course in 29.13 – Legend

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Rat Race Dirty Weekend – Done!

Well I survived, a few bruises and still finding mud everywhere, but I survived.

The Rat Race Dirty Weekend sounded a challenge on paper, a 20 mile run with 200 obstacles between me and the finish line, and it was a serious challenge in practice. Luckily I ran with some friends from Covent Garden Nike which made the event bare-able and do-able. The obstacles were split into 20 zones, which were spaced out every mile or so, this meant we were able to have a recovery jog before facing the next group of challenge. Each zone was themed, including:

– Mud Run – Crawling and wading through mud (at least I hope it was mud), at one point everyone was so caked in mud it was hard to tell everyone apart.
– Trail Blazer – A run along a dirt track in a wood, which I really enjoyed and now seriously tempted to invest in some trail shoes and hit some trails
– Ewok Village – A wood full of wooden balance beams, cargo nets and A-frames.
– Men’s Health Survival Of The Fitness – Lots of obstacles used in Men’s Health Survival Of The Fitness (which Rat Race also organises) – More A-Frames, crawl spaces and scaling large walls.

Sadly not all the obstacle were available, part of the water zone was closed because some of the large inflatables had lost their moorings and could be seen embedded in the trees at the other side of the lake looking sorry for itself. Also due to a healthy dose of rain the monkey bars ,a world record attempt for the worlds longest, was closed. ‘Luckily’ Rat Race had arranged extra obstacles so we didn’t feel left out – erm, thanks(!).

At the bail-out point at 13 miles some of the group dropped out leaving only 3 of us to complete the full 20 miles in 5:37.42.

Loved the event, there were a few teething issues with the event – not enough toilets and showers at the camp site, bottlenecks at some obstacles and apparently the beer tent ran out of booze early during the after party…doh! – but I think Rat Race can easily iron them out before next year. Needless to say, I’ve already signed up for next year.

Edit: Someone with a GoPro recorded the highlights of the event, his efforts is up on youtube to ‘enjoy’ – http://youtu.be/ql3FQ3hy-Y8

Berlin 25k or The One Where The Weather Made Me It’s B*tch

I spent last weekend in Berlin, and it was definitely an interesting time (if you define interesting as ‘oh god, oh god, I’m going to die’).

Berlin is an odd city, a mixture of old, war-damaged, 60s and modern buildings. The city is definitely in a transition phase with lots of building work going on – there were construction cranes in every direction and seemingly random industrial tubes looping over roads. But despite this, the city is beautiful from the people (who were all lovely, even when I inflicted my poor attempts of German on them), the places (some of the landmarks and museums are beautiful), the awesome graffiti art and the general vibe. I’m already planning on heading back to see more of Berlin, as I only scratched the surface and would love to see more, especially to check out the nightlife. I also found out on the last day that there’s a hostel call the ‘Heart Of Gold’ with a mural of the Whale turning into a pot plant and ‘Don’t Panic’ towels, I’d come back just to stay there.

I’d highly recommend that if you visit to take a walking tour, I did one by Brewers and it was great to get a feel for the city and it’s history (and how it and the country is dealing with the past).

On to race day…let me get this out of the way, oh-dear-god it was hot. With not a cloud in the sky the sun was full-on, making the day a very toasty bright 19oC – peew!

The race started at the amazing Olympiastadion. Unlike every other event I’ve been too, which were full of people in charity or novelty running vests, the Berlin 25k crowd looked like mostly running clubs..which didn’t make me feel out of my depth..much. Even when getting ready at the stadium I could feel the heat affecting me, despite trying to hydrate the day before and having (what I thought was) plenty to drink at the apartment before heading to the stadium, I was parched. I intended on grabbing a bottle of water at the start to take with me round the course, but sadly the water was served in plastic cups – bugger. After gulping down a cup of water I headed to the start line to find the pacer. The plan was to stick with the 2:17 (1:55 half marathon pace) pacer until midway and then decide to pull away or not and to mentality treat the event as a Half Marathon with a little extra on the end for luck.

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Needless to say as soon as we started all plans when to hell. As soon as I started moving I boiled and became badly dehydrated very quickly. The 2:17 pacer was long gone and the event became hard 5ks to each water station which made the route drag. As soon as I had some water I was able to pick up the pace by it didn’t last long, this got frustrating was I knew I had the power in my legs, but I just wasn’t able to function enough move them.

The route itself was flat and (mostly) straight, annoying this meant that there was little shade and the sun was on me the whole way. Running through Tiergarten (an urban park larger than Hyde Park in central Berlin), past the Victory Column and running towards the Brandenburg Gate was fantastic (even though I was on the constant hunt of more water). Just before the end of Tiergarten the Half Marathon runners turned off to head back, leaving only the 25km runners to be able to run through the Brandenburg Gate – considering the gate is such a Berlin landmark and could be seen for several km before reaching it, I felt sorry for the HMers missing it out.

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After the Gate the route curled back towards the stadium, passing along a road full of Embassies before rejoining the rest of the runners on HM route. The route finished with a run inside the stadium via the athlete tunnel which was very cool, but a little mean – the only way out of the stadium was up several flights of stairs, it was worth it though – plenty of water (thank you!), fruit (om nom nom!) and free beer (get in!!) was on offer.

Overall the event was great, it well organised and the route was nice (even if the last half was a little dull compared to the first). However there wasn’t much support around the route, it was almost as if the organisers forgot to tell Berliners that the event was happening, and the water stations were a mess – the volunteers clearly overwhelmed by the wall of thirsty runners struggled to keep up with demand.

My final time was 2:30:39 (half marathon time – 2:05:29) which I’m more than a little gutted about. The event has taught me to be better prepared, and not the expect the event to provide things like water bottles – if I had water with me I’d like to think I would have been much closer to the 2:15 I was hoping for, also it has taught me how unprepared I am for hot weather. More training runs in the sun is needed.

I’m definitely going to come back to Berlin, but I’m not sure if it would be for the Berlin 25k again…I’m already eyeing up the Berlin Marathon.