Monday, 30 May 2016

Vitality London 10,000 2016

I usually avoid these mass participation races, but I thought it'd be nice to extend the brilliant Westminster Mile event [read the blog here] into a full bank holiday weekend's worth of running. So I entered the race online a few weeks beforehand at a cost of £26, which is more than I'd usually pay for a 10k race but these Central London races are always a bit more expensive.

A race pack was sent out to me a couple of weeks before the event and it contained my race number, Ipico timing chip, a race day programme and the required items incase I wanted to leave my belongings in the baggage area during the race.

vitality london 10,000 [photos: 7t]

The race is always held on the late May bank holiday Monday, which is the day after the Westminster Mile where I ran a time of 5.41 [blog]. We had stayed overnight in London not far from the start-finish of the race, so the morning was fairly straightforward for me with just a short warm-up jog over to St. James's Park required.

The race start time was set at 10am, I arrived at about 9.40 and headed straight into the blue start pen. For the record there were four start pens on the day with the blue being the first to be sent out onto the road. It was pretty crowded towards the front of the pen and I managed to squeeze into a point that was more towards the front than the back.

pre-race [photos: 7t]

At 10am sharp the race was started and I slowly shunted further forward until I reached the start line. According to my RunPix personal race stats page, it took 24 seconds to get there which wasn't too bad considering the amount of people running this race. However, I immediately remembered why I avoid these events. It was pretty congested all the way down the Mall and it wasn't until after the 1km point that I found that I had fallen into my intended pace.

The streets stayed more congested than I would have liked through until around 2.5km. At this point I found that the runners had spaced out enough for me to start to feel comfortable and really started to enjoy running through the streets of London. For the record, the course is basically completely flat - there are a couple of gradient changes over in the City of London but they are nothing more than that.

race underway [photos: mum]

The course worked its way from the Mall, past Trafalgar Square, along the Strand and into the City of London. It headed around the northern side of St. Paul's Cathedral and then looped back around where the 5km marker was found. I passed the halfway point in 20.37 (according to my stopwatch / 20.35 by the official halfway mats) and felt pretty good so I continued at the same effort level as I headed back towards Westminster.

The course largely followed the same roads as the outbound route for a while and it was nice to see the thousands of runners heading out towards the city as I made my way back. When the route reached Trafalgar Square, the runners headed down Whitehall and this is where knew I'd have some supporters awaiting me.

I was pretty excited about this and looking out for them proved to be a nice distraction as I tried to fight of a mild stitch that I felt forming. Then just as I reached the end of Whitehall (technically Parliament Street) I saw my nephew and mum waiting for me.

post-run [photos: neil reissland / 7t / mum]

My mum was trying to take a photo of me at this point but had a bit of a senior moment with her phone and didn't manage to take a photo - on the plus side I did get a hi-five from my nephew which set me up nicely for the last kilometre.

The last kilometre is the place where there is no longer any point in reserving any energy, so heading along Birdcage Walk was a bit of a blur. I pushed as hard as possible and although I didn't really acknowledge any of the crowds, it was really packed and the cheering really helped me to continue to push.

With 400 metres left to go I checked my stopwatch and saw that I was on for a sub-41 time, which was great news and provided another additional boost for me. So for the second time in as many days, I turned onto Spur Road and crossed the finish line in the view of Buckingham Palace. I had indeed come in under 41 minutes and done so with a negative split race.

2016 medal (back and front) [photos: 7t]

I went through the process of having my timing chip removed before moving onto the goody bag collection points. The bag contained a mixture of nuts, crispy things, drinks, and sun cream. But most importantly it contained the race medal and the Adidas race t-shirt. I like a nice close fit so I opted for the extra-small t-shirt and it fits really well.

After bumping into a few familiar faces, I located my mum and nephew and we made our way back over to the flat we were staying in. If I had been a little better organised I could have taken advantage of a free massage in one of the tents, but the queue was long and I was starting to shiver as I hadn't taken warmer clothes over to the park with me.

As an event, I thought it was really well organised. There is plenty of space in Green Park and the organisers used it well. The only real downside is the same old thing that you get in these big events, and that is the congestion during the first kilometre or two. To be fair, there were plenty of pre-race announcements telling runners to avoid over-seeding themselves when lining up, but apparently nobody really took any notice.

kilometre splits (under pace) and GPS trace of the course [photo: 7t]

I reviewed my GPS data on Strava after the race and I reckon I managed my pace really well. The congestion at the start cost me around 20 seconds, but I knew this would happen and was actually pleased that I hadn't lost even more time. So instead of becoming stressed about it, I stayed patient and was able to put in a cracking last few kilometres (the 10th was my fastest of the entire race), which I'm very pleased with.

Official Time (chip): 40.48
5km splits: 20.37 / 20.11 by my stopwatch (or 20.35 / 20.13 according to the official chip times)
Position: 744 / 12234 (top 6.08%)
Official Results: London 10,000 (search page)
Official Results: London 10,000 (search fields completed)
Official Results: London 10,000 on Run Britain
Really Cool bespoke stats page: RunPix

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