Tag Archives: 5K

AR Summer 5K Series – a small race with a big heart

Reeling from a not-so-successful London Marathon at the end of April I got stuck in that place we go when we feel nothing’s going right for us, while everything is going right for ‘them’ (whoever they may be). The first few days after a marathon are such an emotional rollercoaster, even when you’ve run OK. Feeling a bit low I entered a local 5K race series, as it’s the only way I know to cope…create a new goal.

The last race of the series was run under a beautiful moon

The last race of the series was run under a beautiful moon

This series was a perfect match: extremely close, exceptional value (I caught the early bird price) very friendly and well run. It’s been going for a few years and I’d only heard good things about it. I also wanted to support the race organiser, local runner and owner of the award-winning Absolute Running shop in Gosport as he is a top bloke. Last year I had every race of the series on my calendar and didn’t make one of them. A mid-week evening 5K race can be tricky if you have kids and accompanying taxi duties. But doing a short race series over the summer can show you how your fitness is improving, so I really wanted to make it this year. It’s also a welcome break from your winter long, slow runs.

GRR turning out in force to support the last race

GRR turning out in force to support the last race

Then the first one came, and it went. Nope, I didn’t make it. It just happened that both my mum and my partner were away and so on that night it was only me home alone with three girls and too many car trips to fit in any sort of run. I was proper grumpy. This really fired me up and I was going to make the next four, no matter what.

Me and Karen, second lady

Me and Karen, second lady

Boy I had the wind taken out of my sails on the next race, the second of the series. One thing I hadn’t factored into my race plan was the hideous wind you get along the south coast, which, whatever direction you run in seems to swirl against you.

We all flew for the first mile (wind-assisted), did our two laps of the top field then had to put our heads down on the way back to the finish. The same for races three and four. In fact, on the day of the July 5K I really didn’t want to run. It wasn’t windy, it was hurricane weather – well it felt like it was all the way back into the finish. My third mile split was nearly a minute slower than the first two. I think I was proper grumpy again after that race. But we all know you never regret a run…

I won wine!

I won wine!

By the August 5K I was expecting balmy conditions, a perfect, still summer evening where I may even get within touching distance of my 5K PB. Well, the weather had other plans for us runners and yet again we had to battle 25-30mph winds coming into the final third of the race. Can’t say I was ebullient after that one! Then something amazing happened on the final race, on Tuesday night.

Presentations for the overall series winners

Presentations for the overall series winners

It was incredibly warm – maybe even too warm – for racing a 5K and the wind that was building gently during the day dropped to a whisper. You’ve never seen a couple of hundred runners so uplifted. When I arrived to pick up my race number we were all rejoicing – no wind! It was going to be a breeze (sorry…). We all gathered for the pre-race photo and there was such a good vibe. If you’re looking for your running tribe this is the place to come and find the best. Nick is the perfect ambassador for running and the running life. He’s probably one of the most authentic people you could hope to meet, pretty important when you’re looking for new trainers that you know are probably going to cost you at least £100. You can trust his opinion and pick his brain on anything – the fact that Absolute Running has won awards two-years running, at the Running Awards, shows the depth of community behind him, and how much they trust and respect him.

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He has made some powerful differences to the community he lives in, both through the 5K summer series and the Gosport Golden Mile race, which has become a big hit with local school children. As Nick says: ‘It’s all about the youth.’

Perfect running conditions

Perfect running conditions

I was really chuffed for Nick that so many of the local run club, Gosport Road Runners, were out to support him in the last race of the series. I know most of them only live down the road, literally, but it would be easy not to bother – all of us have busy lives. After the race I spoke to three separate people who told me how they had dashed, hell for leather, from work to make the last event. And at a coaching event earlier in the year held in the other side of the county runners from Surrey told me they were hoping to come down to one of the races.

ethangeephotography.co.uk

ethangeephotography.co.uk

Every year the numbers taking part in this series are growing impressively, and will continue to grow not just because good news travels quickly, but, if the wind is calm, it’s a completely flat and potentially fast course. There’s a kids 1K race before the adult race each month, so you can take your youngsters for a dash along the prom. All finishers get a medal, plus there are prizes in each race through the age categories, as well as a substantial prize to the overall male and female winners of the series. There’s also chip timing. All this is just by-the-by though, as it’s the welcoming, all-inclusive and friendly atmosphere that you will remember. Presentations only take place when the last runner is in and the marshals are fantastic. Plus there’s the perfect opportunity to take your family down for a fish and chip supper after the race. On Tuesday it was nearly dark by the time the last runner finished, the moon was out and it was a beautiful evening. It was lovely to sit on the beach after the race with my youngest, rather than dash home.

The lovely Nick and Kim Carter - thank you for a great race series!

The lovely Nick and Kim Carter – thank you for a great race series!

I am so chuffed that I finally made this race. Yes I moaned and grumped along the way; we all want perfect conditions for every race, but this rarely happens. Maybe if every race in the series had been calm it wouldn’t have been such an achievement to persevere to the end, or the last one wouldn’t have felt so magical.

You can enter next year’s Gosport Golden Mile here

Standard Chartered Great City Race 2015

It took an eight-hour round journey, I ran with 5,000 others (many were very, very fast) including 1,500 other women and one man dressed as a zebra (he must have lost half his weight in the heat!), I’m sure there were at least one million other people walking in the opposite direction to the one I needed to go in to get to the race (London’s tube strike… bad timing for a race day) there were many bends to negotiate and historic monuments to admire on the closed streets of London: yes, I was lucky enough to run in last night’s Standard Chartered Great City Race.

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This is a 5K race – but don’t balk at it being *just* a 5K. As you snake round the closed roads of London (this is the second of only two races in which London’s roads are closed, you know which is the other one) hemmed in with thousands of others chasing their own PBs, the energy of everyone competing against the clock, to outrun their work friends, and secure their company as the winner of this prestigious city race – well, it’s like having a constant jolt of electricity hammering through body and brain.
You have to give in to the pace and go for it in this 5K – from the moment the gun goes off. Elbows have to be out, you have to stand your ground as glory chasers stampede past, and you have to be brave. I knew it was a PB course as I was lucky enough to run it two years ago. After my first Great City Race experience I was addicted.

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It was unfortunate that London Underground staged its 24-hour strike on the same day as the race – and maybe this accounts for the numbers being below 6,000 – but there was a feeling in the air of people needing to get to their destinations, and nothing was going to stop them.
Anyway, there’s nothing quite like a 40-minute hike through London’s streets, fighting the skateboarders, scooter-babes, bike riders, and thousands of other people marching along the streets, all mixed up with hot exhaust fumes from bus after bus to warm up your body (and clog up your lungs).
It’s a privilege to be able to run in this race, not just because it’s a corporate event for companies from the accountancy, banking, media, insurance and legal sectors, packaged up in a crazy atmosphere, with a furiously fast course with inspiring sights peppered along the route. The real beauty is that this event is staged to raise money, and awareness, for the charity Seeing is Believing.
Seeing is Believing tackles avoidable blindness across the world – this year, all funds raised through the race will be used to support the ongoing East Africa Child Eye Health Programme. Standard Chartered also promises to match £10 from each runner’s entry fee pound for pound, to maximize the amount raised.

The perfect location
The location is perfect for thousands of people to converge. The start/finish is situated in the Honourable Artillery Company, Armoury House on City Road, where, in the time you take to hop across the road to enter the site, you can feel respite from the rush of the city.

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Our team (both Men’s Running and Women’s Running) were fashionably late, which meant we had to hurdle a few barriers to get our numbers and dump our bags, with just a few minutes to spare before the gun went off. This extra warm-up gave us a distinct advantage. We had approximately 1min30 seconds to get our kit on – but it was just long enough to view the opposition, the Runner’s World team, across the media room and make just a momentary eye contact. Having got this out of the way, we charged to the start. Not ideal preparation, but all of us were willing to give this race our best.
When you take just a few minutes to think about what the impact of blindness is for children you realize what a huge success this event is. It is estimated between 8,500-10,000 children are blind in the East Africa region. The impact of blindness and visual impairment on children is far greater than for adults. In terms of the impact on reducing years lived with disability, curing a child of blindness is, on average, equivalent to curing 10 adults with cataract blindness. Blindness and visual impairment have serious effects on the educational and employment opportunities of children (less than 10% of blind children attend school).

Following the zebra
As you power through the streets of London you feel humbled by the efforts of so many people to end avoidable blindness. There were roars from the crowds of Londoners soaking up cold beers as the sun beat down on us all. I really benefited from these as the man in the zebra costume was just ahead of me – the roar followed him all the way round.

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The Men’s Running team powered home, but we knew they would. Then came Women’s Running. Jenny, our digital writer was not going to let a sub-25 minute 5K get away from her and she beat her target by over half a minute. I also managed a PB and slipped in under 21 minutes; we were both pleased/relieved to finish. It’s such a blessing to be part of a great team of people.

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Mr Zebra finished to huge applause; if you imagine that each of his stripes represented £1,000 then his costume, totaling up to over £100,000 encompassed the efforts and generosity of all the runners. This 5K is a great event whether you participate, or are associated with it, and getting a PB makes it just that little bit more special.

 

Stats: Every team of four who entered this year will provide enough funding to train one health worker in Primary Eye Care.
Around 39 million people in the world today are blind, most of them living in the developing world. Yet, in eight out of ten cases, blindness can be prevented or treated with proven, cost effective interventions.
Seeing is Believing was launched in 2003. As of December 2014, we have raised more than $80 million, reached more than 78 million people, funded 3.4 million cataract operations, trained more than 173,306 health workers, supported 98 eye health projects, and distributed 776,200 pairs of spectacles.
Entry costs is £30 of which £10 goes to Seeing is Believing (with Standard Chartered £10 match this is a significant amount for one race to raise).
There’s a range of talent involved. At the front end of the race the pace is blistering: Phil Wicks (Team Allianz UK) was first male in 14:43. Lara Bromilow was leading lady in 17:38 for HSBC.

You can donate to the official race page at www.seeingisbelieving.org/help-us/donate-now and help to eliminate avoidable blindness.