Race Review: The Olympic Velopark Mile Challenge

I have been sick. Just as I entered the Berlin Marathon taper I got a sore throat, that then spread and before long I was a walking bucket of mucus. Attractive huh? I DNSd the Run the River 10k and instead gave my spot away to Frank O’Leary for his 51st piece of bling. This after the person who I gave the Kew Gardens 10K place to didn’t run. Personal reasons, maybe, hopefully nothing serious, but disappointing anyway, as someone could have used that. Anyway, I digress.
I missed the Tuesday Run the River but also my training run on Thursday meaning I was a week without running before I turned up at the Olympic Velopark for what was billed as the Mile Challenge organised by those lovely people at RunThrough.

The idea for me was simple. I will sign up for three months of the Mile Challenge and attempt to get better at the mile distance. PB all the way. No other events on the day, replacing park run, and to focus on improvement each time. I have only ever run one mile race, the BUPA Westminster Mile, that unfortunately measured 40 yards short on my Nike+ so my official Mile PB was 7:47 from goodness knows when. Oh, yes, I rememeber,it was then, during my looping insanity running around the Emirates stadium as part of my 20 Races in 6 months for Pancreatic Cancer UK. So I had a point to prove.

During these monthly races you have options. First of all you can just do the Mile Challenge, for which you register through the Mile Challenge site. You can run at 9:30am, 10:30 or 11:30 on the day. And RunThrough organise a 5K and a 10K for between. I decided to run at 9:30 to “avoid the crowds” and get it over and done with. This was partially a good idea but utterly weird as there were dozens of people turning up for the 5K and 10K just sitting around as no more than a dozen of us lined up for the most pitiful field ever.

Just before the start my heart started pounding, really racing, I do not know if it was nerves as people were gawping, or just that I was nervous for the first race in a week since getting sick or if it was the fact this was the last try out before the Berlin Marathon but I was panicking. I needn’t. I soon raced off with the tiny pack, and was on the shoulder of the only guy close to my pace.

Now I say that, but what I mean is the only registered runner close to my pace. The race organiser, I have a feeling it was Matt from Runthrough, very friendly and nice, talking to two deaf runners who were there for my race too, decides to sprint off ahead of us. Clearly he was a very good runner, and clearly he was in a class of his own, but it actually made me feel pretty bad as he kept looking back, running next to one of his cycling minions. I know the two of us walking off at the end were not the happiest about it. Not his fault, but it did seem weird.

Yes, I am next…

Anyway, I was aiming for a PB and took it a little easy. I was out in front (of the registered runners) for much of the second half of the race, after clocking the first KM at 4:11 but then slowed down at the end as I wanted to run on the shoulder of someone. Right up until the end, when I kicked past them to somehow win. Or win inasmuch as I beat the other registered runners, all 10 of them LOL.

 Now, embarrassed as I was at the size of the field, and the race director pegging it off and making us look like idiots, I did get a PB by a minute and 2 seconds. So my new mile record is 6:45. It is still slow, but this was on a very undulating course, without much warmup, at the end of a week of cold and lurgy. I know I can do better next time when Artur Cistov from #ukrunchat, a fellow member of #teamred will pace me to glory.


 The medal is unique, as all RunThroughs medals are, and small, as all RunThroughs medals are, so it is a trade off. I like it. It is the same medal given to all competitors, for the Mile, the 5 and the 10. I guess I get two more. The most important thing though, is that I ran again after my bout of sickness, and I ran well, even it doesn’t look it in the video Kiran took from the sidelines.
Bling #86 (when the Hogwarts medals arrive. 84th to be put on the rack)


And, phew, today, Sunday, I ran a very comfortable 7 miles, at a nice pace, without any issues. Cold gone. Legs better. Bring on ze marathon.


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