July 15, 2013
On the hottest Sunday in July (well for as long as I can remember) whilst most people were just waking up and thinking about where to go to max and relax in the sun, I was on my way to run in a 10k race. “What’s wrong with you?” is what my sister politely asked me. I seriously do not know is the answer!!
I have in fact run this race before back in 2010 and on that day it was hot too, but 3 years ago I ran this race completely unprepared having gone out on the lash the night before, having had about 2 hours sleep and running with half a bottle of vodka still in my system. You can read a bit more about that run here.
But I was kinda prepared this morning. I’d done some training for a start and I had got an early night with no alcohol. I probably could have done with a little more hydration conscidering the weather forecast for today, and I also forgot to bring sunscreen…but I’ve been hanging out in the park for the last few weeks so my tan should give me a bit of protection (lets hope)
I love this race for one main reason – the route. It is so picturesque, and just on the outskirts of London. If you are a Londoner who has never been to the Lee Valley then shame on you. You don’t know what you’re missing…and you are also by the way paying for the privalage of not going!!!
As a London Council Tax payer we have a stake in the Lee Valley – a 26 mile stretch of open spaces and sports venues created by a unique Act of Parliament as a “green lung” for London, Essex and Hertfordshire. An idea suggested in 1944 by Sir Patrick Abercrombie in his Greater London Plan, but one which didn’t come into fruition until the 1960s. If you live in any of the above regional areas you are paying about £1 a year towards the cost of running the park…not bad value for money I say!!
So what can you find in the park? Well aside from no less than 3 Olympic Venues, the Velopark, the White Water Rafting Centre and a Hockey and Tennis Centre…there is so much more for you to see and do. I can remember going to Lee Valley Ice Rink when I lived in Walthamstow as a teenager, my friend Natalie enjoyed her love of horses at the nearby equestrian centre…but it’s the swaithes of open spaces and country paths that really interest me now, now I am a runner that is.
I arrived at the start line at about 9.20am, it was already busy but with a real relaxed feel. The organisation was impecable and people mainly just lounged in the sun waiting for the race to start. There was a funrun starting a little later, as well as the 10K which had a small field of about 500-600 runners.
There were no airs and graces at the start, we just assembled behind a balloon arch waited for the horn and then we were off. I knew in the heat there was no way I could go for a good time so instead to motivate myself I decided I would simply run the whole way…but simple it was not.
I wanted to walk by about 3 kilometers…I had an urge to stop and take photos but thought better of it and kept plodding on. I didn’t take any fluids with me as I hate carrying things when I run but I should have as I was gasping by the time I got to the water station at 5K.
What is nice about this 10K is that there are very few spectators, just other park users, walkers and cyclists mainly and a few fishermen…and women I might add. And the volunteers are superb…with lots of them at every twist and turn of the course. In many ways because I am a slow runner it felt like I was on a long training run with the added benefit of some friendly wayfinders.
By about 7K I was struggling, my legs were starung to hurt a bit and I was breathing quite heavily. By now the faster runners from the 3K funrun were flying past me…lots of teenage boys from local running clubs by the looks of it, but a few teeny tiny little red faced runners too and some men in tutus.
In the last kilometer I was running alongside a dad with his 6 or 7 year old son who was clearly exhausted. His dad was saying “Come on mate you can do it” and he was doing a half run with a lot of winging and moaning “Daaaaaaad”, so I told him “almost finished and then you will get your medal” that perked him up, but then I felt really guilty remembering it was a finishers shirt not a medal…ooooppps!!
The last bit of the course takes you over a bridge with a descent to an awaiting crowd and a steeel band playing a range of modern pop songs…the sun was still shining…well scorching actually, cos it was approaching midday by the time I finished. In fact it took me about 1 hour 23 to get round which I am pretty happy with conscidering the conditions.
There is something for everyone in the Lee Valley, fishing, birdwatching, a farm, camping, events, sports activities…the list is endless, and the area is really accessible too by road, public transport and by bike or foot. I am now thinking about planning a training run from Stratford (where I live) to Chesthunt…I just need to figure out the route…but I know its possible, or at least it will be soon once the Queen Elizabeth Park opens to the public.
Seriously guys as 10K races go…this is by far my favorite, put it in your diary for 2014 and in the meantime why not organise your own 10K training run here…there is plenty of choice for scenic routes here…and a few nice places to stop for a picnic afterwards.
- Lee Valley 10K in 2010(fattymustrun.wordpress.com)