Race Review : Royal Parks Series – Regents Park 10K

The Regents Park 10K. A 10K? A festive 10K at that? Where did this come from? I am guessing this was one of those impulsive race entries (see RTTT, Barcelona Marathon, Lucerne, Vienna, Yorkshire, well, virtually my whole race calendar)  where I get embroiled in a twitter conversation and before long found myself signing up partly due to FOMO, but mostly because it would be a pleasant change to all the marathons I have been running recently (6 in 9 weeks!). That and I won’t have to travel far. I am racing in London for a change.

I am writing this preamble as I always do but am going to go a little further. I have raced Regents Park on numerous occasions at Nice Work races, the BBC Running Club and the London Zoo Stampede, and the course is so well known to me if I wasn’t running with friends dressed festively (you should see my hat!) and have a plan for the rest of the day I may not have bothered.

The last two races at Regents Park. Not much to choose between them

The weather is supposed to be terrible but less than a week away from a muddy, frozen, marathon number 11 I do need to toughen up. And so, rain or shine, snow or sleet, I will be there and… um… enjoy it, if at all possible?

A few guesses now, and we shall see how it pans out.

GUESS ONE – It will be raining.

GUESS TWO – The medal will be the boring tube sign medal I have had before from this organisation.

This one.

GUESS THREE – I shall choose completely the wrong number of layers and be either hot or cold the whole time

GUESS FOUR – I shall run it in a comfy 1:10

GUESS FIVE – They will have run out of goodie bags

GUESS SIX – We will get a hot chocolate at the Hub cafe before heading our separate ways

The Route

I am guessing this is the standard route, and will write an addendum if I am wrong. It will start at the hub and run south. The water table, if there is one will be here. We will run down and passed the toilets to the bridge across the boating lake BUT we will not cross, we will turn left and edge the lake against the iron railings around and then down and onto the long straight Broadwalk. Here we will get to the fountain and turn right, down the angle to the childrens play area, around that then straight back to the Broadwalk and to the fountain but then turn right and run by the sports fields to the start. Rinse and repeat 3 times. That would be my guess. If I am wrong, I will be pleasantly surprised.

I woke at 7 am to the wind howling around the building and rain beating on the window. Good start. On goes the phone and some of the peeps are already talking about the weather being a tad inclement. Carolyn and Cazza and Louise were planning to run this, with Baz, Kaya, JK and Clare as potential cheer squad. I had already told them that it was going to be at least rainy and to stand down. It was a 10K for goodness sake, it would take them longer to get to London than it would for me to run the damned thing and fortunately they did. And, with sense prevailing, so did the rest of the ladies, leaving me (as the local boy) ambling down to Regents Park to be joined by Laura Murray, and newly LIRFed Jen Morris.

As I left it was just raining and pretty windy. I decided on my new Salomon hybrid rain/wind proof jacket over a tee, and a long sleeve, and shorts, and leggings, and Brooks trainers as my Ons are dreadful in the rain. I got on the tube just as the rain turned to sleet. Two stops later when I got out and joined a group of runners, including Jen, on the walk by 221b Baker Street and along the boating lake toward the Hub, it was full on snow. Oh yes! I was pretty much…

Which did alarm me a little, and disappoint me. The MK Half had been cancelled the day before, as had many parkruns. As we walked by angry geese on progressively slippery paths we all started to feel that there was a good chance this race would be cancelled, despite an earlier assurance that it would not. After all, when they tweeted this it was only raining, now it was a flurry.

We were walking through snow, with freezing slush under our already sopping and cold feet. This was going well. The thought, it is gonna get cancelled, ran through our minds and then, through the snow we saw the hub, and there, underneath it, dozens of runners. It was very heartwarming.

RUNNING IN A WINTER WONDERLAND

The runners were at the packet pickup, a feature of Race Organiser events. And the changing rooms at the Hub would be the manned bag drop. We all got changed, boys in one changing room, girls in the other. Occasionally braving the elements for team #UKRUNCHAT selfies.

The question still hung over us though. Would it go ahead? The weather was getting worse. It was snowing quite hard. Would it be cancelled? Would this all be for nothing? It was then, with about 15 mins to go before the start time of 9 o’clock that the race director came down to say that he had walked the route, it was a bit slushy in places but safe. He said that enough people had turned up and so he thought we would want to go ahead. We could do one lap, pull out at any time, or complete the three and would get the goody bag regardless. And this made my day.

How I did

Coach Jen has not run for a while, not since the Swiss City Marathon I think she said, and was not planning on belting around. This was not a PB course anyway, not with it being so treacherous underfoot and so we decided to plod around together at frozen party pace.

And so with 3 laps planned we decided, as we joined the 300 strong idiot runners out in the freezing weather, that if it was terrible we could stop after one lap. Not that either of us wanted to. But it is sometimes good to have a panic button. The safe word is “butterscotch.”

Is it me, or does that route look familiar?

And so we ran pretty much the predicted route above. Straight away from the Hub there was a single water table. People went off at a jog, with a few crazies belting along on the grass and slipping as they did. A few club runners, from local clubs like Heathside and Mornington Chasers sped off, leaving us to run through inches of icy, slushy water outside the toilets at the boating lake. Our feet were soaked as we made our way around the perimeter of the lake and then around and to the Broadwalk, the long straight, tree lined walk up the middle of the park. As an aside, the last time I ran this way I saw Mike (Austin Powers) Myers.

Up the Broadwalk and to the right, down around the children’s play area (as expected), back up to the Broadwalk to the fountain then along by the zoo and then back to the start. Rinse, as expected, and repeat, as expected, three times for a very slow 1:10, almost 20 minutes slower than my PB. But, given the circumstances (non running shoes, ice, snow, wet underfoot, icy slush, toilet break at lap two) I am ok with that.

The Bling

I know it was a winter race, and it should probably have Santa on it somewhere, or at least Rudolph, but I think the medal is cute. It is tiny, but it is one of three that make up the series, and it had giraffes from the zoo on it. Although we only saw camels out in the bad weather.

Did We Have Fun?

It certainly looks like it.

The Predictions

GUESS ONE – It will be raining. No, it was snowing then sleeting. So…

 Nil point

GUESS TWO – The medal will be the boring tube sign medal I have had before from this organisation.

Again, pleasantly surprised but…

GUESS THREE – I shall choose completely the wrong number of layers and be either hot or cold the whole time

No. I actually picked the outfit perfectly. See? Yes, I may come over as a cynical realist, but the closet optimist in me is shining through.

GUESS FOUR – I shall run it in a comfy 1:10

Finally! If I hadn’t stopped to take some photos and go to the loo would have been better than 1:10 but was close enough.

GUESS FIVE – They will have run out of goodie bags

Nope. Plenty there for the 300 frozen souls.

GUESS SIX – We will get a hot chocolate at the Hub cafe before heading our separate ways.

Sadly another no, this time as there were no seats and it was full of runners.

1/6. Pretty pathetic really. I will do better next time. Must try harder.

Summary

The Regents Park Winter 10K was probably my favourite race there. I knew the route, the lake of slush at the loos drenched and froze my feet and I had constant cramp as I was wearing trainers I never run in, but running in the snow on the first snow day of the year, with an elf hat on was just too good. If it had been in the rain, and within an hour of the finish the rains came and washed away the snow, it would have been less fun. But I enjoyed myself. I would have been gutted if the RD had pulled the plug at the last minute and kudos to him for not doing so.

WOULD I RECOMMEND THE REGENTS PARK WINTER 10K? If it is snowing? Yes.

WOULD I RUN THE REGENTS PARK WINTER 10K AGAIN? Probably not, not even if it is snowing.

Parson Brown with the medal

Next Up:

THE BOVINGTON MARATHON

 

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