To be fair I didn’t know who Runthrough were when I signed up to the Bushy Park half back on 18th August 2013. The email listed Wimbledon and Clapham halves too and I am wondering now if these were the three first events of this fun and friendly race outfit. It was only my second year running and this would be my 8th half (I have somehow run 27 now) and, even though I’d run some big halves, Amsterdam, Royal Parks, Semi de Paris, Rock n Roll Edinburgh and the North Carolina half around a NASCAR arena I liked my trip to South West London. This was my review from 2013, so I guess I liked them.
Runthrough.co.uk are a great little organiser, their motto is ‘for runners, by runners.’ They get two solid thumbs up for me for:
- sending out emails in the week before, and updates about the weather. TICK.
- Not only offered medals but also t-shirts for ALL runners. TICK.
- Lucozade before, during and after, as well as water. TICK.
- And they seemed to be genuinely nice people. DOUBLE TICK.
Now, they offer free photographs via Facebook ordinarily available on the day, tees and hoodies to buy, bananas, water, very addictive flapjacks and freebies from partnered companies such as epsom salts.
And since then they have been a mainstay between my bigger races as they are local (other than Tatton Park, Herts and Thorpe Park), they are affordable, you choose your distance on the day and they are frequent. I don’t know how many races they put on over the year but their season passes are definitely value for money. They run midweek races too, the Chase the Sun and Chase the Moon races are completed in the evening after work, and are always sold out. The venues, from memory are the big parks around London, Victoria, Regents, Hyde, Clapham Common, Wimbledon Common, the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, the Olympic Velopark, Greenwich Park, Brockwell Park and Crystal Palace.
If I want a fast one, maybe I am confident enough to go for a 5, 10 or half PB attempt then I always check when their Victoria Park races are. My 10K PB is there from this year. And this was originally meant to be my half PB attempt. My half PB, you see, is one of those annoyances that, if you are less scrupulous you just take the lowest time, but for me I have issues doing that. My half PB is supposed to be Brighton Half. But, as many of you know, they mis-measured the course that year so I can’t really count it. My next best time was at Eton Dorney lake. There was no statement saying it was short, but I measured it almost 200 yards shy of a half, and ended up running around the car park to convince my Nike Watch at the time it was a PB. So, despite the official word being the now defunct race was the correct length I know it wasn’t. What do I count? Such as dilemma.
So a new PB at the correct distance would be a good way to wipe away the dirty smears of dissatisfaction from the aforementioned PBs and scrub the spreadsheet of records clean. And so, after Nottingham Christmas marathon, my 9th no show of the year, due to no trains going out of St Pancras, left a bitter taste in the mouth, a nasty taste, akin to if MacDonalds made martinis, I signed up for the next longest race available to Londoners, the Runthrough Half at Victoria Park, to appease my demons.
A History Lesson
The RunThrough races, as I have stated are a mainstay in my race calendar, and that of many people I know. I have seen, and even met for the first time, many of my running friends including Baz Tav, Kaya, Lew Clarke, Caroline, Simon, Bodders, James Dunn, Ciara, Melissa, Frankie, Superstar Jen Morris, Sarah, the Leeds Twins and Cat Presi, Steve, Lee Kemp, Allie, Spencer, JK and Clare, Whiffers and many many more at their races across the city and beyond. And is it surprising given this is the list of RunThrough Races I have completed in the last 5 years?
- Bushy Park Half
- Battersea Park 10K
- Greenwich Park 10K
- Mile Challenges – Olympic Velodrome (Multiple runnings)
- Greenwich Park 10K
- Hyde Park 10K
- Tatton Park Half
- Brixton 10K
- Victoria Park 10K
- Chase the Sun 10K
- Herts Half
- Victoria Park 10K (PB)
- Hyde Park 5K
- Wimbledon 10K
- Halloween 5K Olympic Park
- Chase the Moon 5K
- Victoria Park 10K
What Would Bungle Do?
And so today. In my head, since I lost out on Nottingham Christmas marathon and had to settle for a lesser distance I got it in my thick head that I should be attempting a PB and, given the aforementioned ballache caused my Brighton and Eton Dorney, it would be good to have a half marathon PB that actually measured half marathon distance. I would do it. My last half of the year would be a PB. My last race of the year would be a PB. Two PBs both at Victoria Park (my 10K PB was there in Jan at the RunThrough race). It was all I wanted. That was the thought all the way until I fell asleep last night. When I woke this morning though, everything had changed. All those hopes, and dreams, aspirations and well thought-out plans were gone. Sleep is the death of the conscious soul, after all, and the guy who woke up this morning was having issues.
I checked social media. People were heading to Parkruns across the world. I ummed and ahhd in bed about staying there for the foreseeable future but then a thought took me over, as I saw an instagram story about someone considering bailing, teasing his following into buying into the idea and I asked myself the question “what would Bungle do?” He would say in bed. So I got up. As I cleaned my teeth and washed my face I considered a Parkrun instead, something local (HH), or further afield (rickmansworth/Highbury) to assuage my guilt, but the thought returned. “What would Bungle do?” He would seek an easy way out. Parkrun would be too easy an option and so I got in my running kit, downed a cup of hot, sweet tea and ran to the Jubilee line to head to Vicky Park as planned. TFL is not always your friend. I could sense I would have issues in my journey when we had spent too long in two tunnels and Baker Street station. The trains were screwed. With the half starting at 9.30 I was going to be late. If I missed the race what is the point in continuing my journey? I could get out at Baker Street and head over the platform and head north and home. I could have bailed but once again I used the thought as my mantra. “What would Bungle do?” He would go home. And so I stayed on the train, legged it at Bond Street to the Central line and just about made the next train. By the time I climbed the stairs at Mile End it was 9.15. And the walk to the opposite end of Victoria Park was 31 minutes according to Google Maps. What would…? Fuck it! I thought and started running.
It is a well known route for me and the traffic was kind. I legged it across the road out the front of the station and up the long Grove Road all the way to the opposite end of the park to where I needed to be. I could see other runners around, all rushing. I took the muddy route across the park rather than sticking to the paths and arrived at race HQ just as the half was starting. I still needed to collect my bib, change, drop my bag, and now take an emergency toilet break. Plans foiled but all was not lost.
As I mentioned before the wonderful people at RunThrough, including the dear Matty Wood, organise multiple distances on the same day. The half may have started at 9.30. I may have missed it. But there was a 5K at 10 and a 10K 5 minutes later. And that I what I ended up signing up for. And yes, there are on the day sign ups, even if sold out on the website. You just need to ask.
And so, from not getting out of bed and running at all, to going to a local parkrun, to a further afield parkrun, to thinking I would miss all the races and have to appease my guilt by running home from East London, I managed to get into the 10K. Our favourite bear from our favourite 1970s and 80s childrens TV show had unintentionally inspired me to do it by me not wanting to just bail! #inspo
Afterword: Looking on his Instagram it turned out that after all that Bungle bungled. He was supposed to be at the same race as me too. And then he also didn’t bother going to a second race on Sunday. A new record. 2 race weekend. #doublebungle
How I did?
My mind was all over the place but I was glad to be running. I tried to say hi to Matty Wood but he was herding cats in his role as RD, compère and general busy body and so I put on some tunes, and took my place in the start pen.
This was not my first rodeo. I knew the course and knew it well. I knew where the only incline is, the water tables, the bottle necks, the mulch in the winter, and the turn off for the finish of the 10K, as the 5K and half had different coned off turn offs, and it always confused people.
And so I plodded my way around. A few KMs were fast, passing some of the 5K field, and joining the half runners on their 6 laps, pushing myself a little and I would be on for a PB, but ultimately I took it a little easy on myself, stopping at the water tables twice and even taking a breather once as I needed to de-phlegm (I have been suffering from a bit of a head cold).
And in the end? I did ok. It was 4 minutes off my PB but still my 5th best 10K time at my 67th 10K race, and the 3rd in the top 5 at Victoria Park. I could easily take 5 off that time when I am back here next. BOSH. ‘AVE IT!
Winner Winner Chicken Dinner
I was so fast (joke) that I was first in my age/sex category. Although it is for the age category 45-50 and the sex category of UNKNOWN. Not sure how I feel about that. Am all for equality, and in this ever-changing world of non-binary, gender neutral, gender fluid pansexuality I am quite proud of getting a category win, even if it was probably down to the RunThrough helper not entering my sex down on the laptop. And I thought the beard was a giveaway.
They get bigger and better over time, although I do love the old school Bushy Park medal.
It is what it is. And was what it was. I wanted 6 laps and a half marathon PB, I almost didn’t go, almost didn’t make it but am very glad that I did. Race 36 of the year complete (he says counting them up again), bling #191 on the racks and now a few weeks off before the next adventure. My loved ones are abroad at the moment, and one of them isn’t coming home for Chrismukkah at all, so I am seeing him over my birthday and New Years. But for this one:
WOULD I RECOMMEND THE VICTORIA PARK HALF/10/5? Go for the PB, stay for the free Epsom salts, and the flapjacks.
WOULD I RECOMMEND THE VICTORIA PARK HALF/10/5? For the PB opportunity, the free Epsom salts, and the flapjacks? HELL YES!
The Flumprunner Count
NEXT UP: ZURICH NEUJAHRSMARATHON
With my Baby Brother