Ok, for a little bit of context here. I was listed as one of the many, many, many running blogs at the beginning of this year’s voting for the Running Awards. I did not make the shortlist and hey! to be fair those that were are far better, or more consistent and prolific bloggers than I ever will be. But once off the shortlist I voted for all the areas I had an opinion about – favourite shoes (On), socks (Balega), apparel (Adidas), tech (Garmin), app (Nike+), shop (RunnersNeed), 10K (BUPA London), half (Royal Parks), full (London) and International (Berlin) but based purely on experience. I voted for #UKRUNCHAT as community and for another blog, I think Roger’s actually, and then left it at that.
An email came through selling balcony seats to the event. It was at Indigo where I had seen Boris Johnson (or Bojo) and Nick Ferrari sparring in the mayoral debates. £25 for something I was not shortlisted for? But #UKRUNCHAT would have been so there would be some of the crew there so I thought I would get a ticket.
Ah, but then another email followed a tweet asking me for details. And an invite from Strava, who were sponsoring the event, to go for free as a VIP blogger, free food and drink, goodies, a Q&A with Martin Yelling and Parkrun Tom. So how could I refuse? And the price? A 6K run around the area with the Strava guys.
So I cut short my 6 hour lap race on the Dover cliffs to head back to London at lunchtime, bath, change into running kit then race out again in the rain to the O2 centre for a Run with Strava.
This was advertised as a gentle run, which then became labelled as a “gritty East London” run when Strava discovered the amount of construction going on in that particular postcode. We all met at the new Intercontinental Hotel where I finally got to meet Mohican Runner, Susie Chan, Shaun “Arctic marathon” Marsden, and Roger Thomasson who had been shortlisted. And I was paired with Roger and given a hotel room where we could change for the run before returning, showering, changing and heading to the event after being given a Strava tshirt and a free heart rate monitor.
And it was a gentle run, along the water, crossing the high street and then up and into the park to a lookout point before heading back to the fun of the Running Awards 2016.
This was a chance for a lot of photo ops with people I never normally got to see in real life, only on Twitter. We were first taken upstairs and given free booze. Free booze? I hear you ask. Yes, I reply, free booze. Which we enjoyed as I met Mirka Moore, and Helsieboo for the first time before a Q&A session with the hosts of #MARATHONTALK Martin Yelling and Parkrun Tom that was actually just a sales pitch from Strava, the same one I got from one of the guys on the run earlier that I kind of ignored.
The guys then disappeared and we waited, having a drink or three before being called in for food in the VIP bar. This is where we were joined by the lovely people from Running Rewards and Pip, who I had gotten in by replying to an email re upgrade. Pip had purchased a balcony seat but the organisers had asked if we knew anyone who had done that so we could upgrade them.
Honestly though they charged £25 for balcony seats that they then largely gave away. And they charged £400 a plate for the awards ceremony silver service dinner that they then gave away anyway. The place was virtually empty. The VIP bloggers and now upgraded balcony seating making up no more than 100 people tops. Still, the booze kept coming as did pasta and steak and chips in bowls. Pretty good too, before the awards. Back to the balcony for us.
And then to the awards. Most of those I voted for won except the most important one of all, UKRUNCHAT as online running community. We always assumed we would lose to Run Mummy Run, which has a huge following, but somehow a virtual running group one. We were second, but still Joe got to collect a trophy for his cabinet.
Um, yes it was. I made it out of my neckerchief/bandana thingy last week.
And it made a very fetching toga for the awards, or “Little Joe” as I call it.
It was fun to hang around with the UKRUNCHAT mob and to meet so many faces from the online running community. It is always good to meet such like minded people.