Are you comfortable, boys and girls? Good. Let me tell you a story. I have run a lot of other races with RunThrough. The Bushy Park half was their first, and I commented that it was a good race back then. I have run Greenwich Park, Victoria Park, Brixton, Battersea, Tatton Park, Hyde Park, Bushy, and I am a big fan. So, post Comrades injury blues, as the physio and osteo work is fixing me Matty Wood and the Runthrough guys kindly offered me a media place at the Chase the Sun 5K/10K in Clapham (pronounced “Clarm”) as I had been toying with the idea of testing my knee between Beat the Boat 10K (a fortnight ago) and Pride 10K in August. Beat the Boat wasn’t really a race, although we comfortably plodded around in an hour and change despite two lengthy beer stops, and Pride is just too far away at the moment. And so this became a new test and was glad of it.
It would be an after work race and part of a series (Chase the Sun) that takes in the parks across the City and is very popular among the UKRUNCHAT crowd in London, in particular the south of the river crew including Carl (@BigCarlRunning), Ciara (@BlueEyedSoul13), and Melissa(@Moosenshoes), who I believe paid for the series. It was hot and the northern line to Clapham was unpleasantly sweaty.
I arrived first, having changed at work, and found myself on the corner of the common having gotten out at Clapham Common station, rather than Clapham South or North. TBH I hadn’t checked the email with the map and so, after first getting a 99 flake in a nearby ice cream van, I scanned the horizon for runners moving in the same direction or the tell-tale blue and white of the RunThrough start/finish arch. I thought I saw it across two roads and so started that way, meeting up with fellow runners but it turned out to be something else although, I was fortunate in that I had ended up walking in the right direction as they were set up at the other end of the same part of the common.
The setup is always pretty good, although I was confused that they ask you to look up your number to save time, when the tables where you collect your bibs are sorted alphabetically by surname. There was a baggage drop, no worries about the bag getting wet this time, as it was scorchio, a table with a vendor showing off their new product, and the t-shirt tent.
A RARE NEGATIVE NOTE
Now, as I said, I am ordinarily a fan of the RunThrough guys. I promote them and so thought, why not get a tee? You pay for a tee on the website and pick it up at the next race. They have blue and white tees, or white and blue tees, hoodies, and other garb but I had ordered a medium tee. I would decide when there if I wanted the white or the blue. The consensus from Twitter was to go for the blue. Three guys were at the t-shirt table. I said I had ordered a tee and it would be for a men’s medium. Two of the guys seemed to find that this was funny. I repeated it to the third, who had no idea what he was doing. I glared at the two laughing and thought it was pretty poor for the staff, who are normally very good. One continued laughing, as the other said “drop it” to him, as the one who was supposed to be helping me went and got a girl who was actually knew what to do, while to two idiots continued their laughter. I guess as an event organiser you have to take what you can get. This was my first poor experience with RunThrough. Although the girl checked the list of tee recipients and, despite me not being on it, gave me what I wanted anyway, a men’s medium. Although the tees are actually unisex, and so I went for a large in the end.
THE SCOOBY GANG
As I said, the gang were there. I hadn’t seen Will since Bacchus last September, and I couldn’t remember the last time I saw the lovely Ciara. It would probably have been drinks somewhere, or a… I remember, it was Brixton 10K. The water ball thing Ooho had a table as I said. It is supposed to be the end of the plastic bottle.
When asked how they were Ciara highlighted why we loved her before, and love her a little more now…
Ciara would not be running and instead transferred her race bib on the day to Frankie. This is yet another thing to love about RunThrough, their flexibility. Who else lets you have on the day entries, and on the day transfers? And also, and quite important as it was very hot, you can choose up to the last minute, if you want to run the 5K or the 10K. The 5K starts at 10 to 7 and would be 2 laps of the route, the 10K a slightly modified 3 laps kicking off at 7:15.
And the 5 or 10 decision was pretty big. Carl was noticeably late, but apparently this is his modus operandi at the moment and, given his job move, I don’t blame him. You don’t need to be rushing about after a day of work, breaking your neck to get to a comfy, relaxed race series where there is an ice cream van and spectators (Ciara) drinking cold cans of cider in the sun. Carl was running the five and started ten minutes after the others when he did finally turn up. I realised then the option of a 5K for me wasn’t real. I could just do parkrun. This was a race, and therefore I had to run the ten.
The route was a bit of a mixed bag, but a rather simple mixed bag. You know those bags of crisps by Walkers called Mix Ups, where you have several different types of crisp but all the same flavour, well this was the ready salted race version of that. It was flat, it was hot. You started on grass for a few dozen yards at the start, then ran on path, bisecting the park before turning 90 degrees and across more grass to the edge of the common and a dusty worn path in the shade. The marshal here quite rightly said “make the most of the shade” and we did. This is a long straight that ends at an asphalt path at another 90 degree turn and you are on this surface for another right angle before doing some loops out from the bandstand, before a short sprint down and by the start. Rinse and repeat 3 times before 10 yards on grass at the end.
HOW I DID
It was very hot. RunThrough had water and Ooho tables, the traditional bananas and flapjacks and sachets of nut butter (oh, pur-lease stop giggling). Ciara was like a kitty with catnip for the sachets of nut butter (will you grow up?). I wore the New Balance Ice (their version of Adidas Climacool) vest, despite feeling like a huge manatee in the photos at Beat the Boat.
RunThrough had recommended running with a water bottle, and, given the heat I thought it was prudent to bring a bottle to run with. I also put an SOS sachet in it to combat the sweating. I did toss it but only with a few hundred yards to go, after running the whole way at a pretty good clip. Despite the changes in terrain and my concern with my knee and lack of running I ran it in 58:03, nowhere near a PB but all the signs were there. Maybe I will pull something off at the Pride 10K.
The whole “you’ve come a long way baby” idea comes to mind. This was my first RunThrough race 4 years earlier, and their first race ever I believe compared to the Chase the Sun award. What I like is they do make an effort and the medals are not only bespoke, they evolve year after year, with new features added. Top marks.
I owe a huge debt of gratitude to Matty and the kids for the race. It was exactly what the doctor (osteo/physio/trainer/I) ordered. Organisation was superb as always. Free photos! And lots of them. A majority of the marshals and staff are great (other than the aforementioned dickheads) and I am glad I did it. Another of the RunThrough races ticked off, with really just the Wimbledon races and their infamous Womble medal and photo to come.
WOULD I RECOMMEND THE RUNTHROUGH CHASE THE SUN SERIES? You know, I probably would. It is a very social race, we met up before, we went for food after. I am a fan of midweek races too. Why just blow the cobwebs away at the weekend?
WOULD I RUN THE RUNTHROUGH CHASE THE SUN SERIES AGAIN? Probably not. Despite all I said, I feel that my midweeks should be spent following my training plan.
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I hope you were wearing some sunscreen!