The Big Day – the Bupa London 10K had arrived! With mounting anticipation, The Royal Star & Garter runners arrived at the meeting point in Green Park, with Jane our Events Marketing Co-ordinator greeting us enthusiastically whilst borrowing a mallet from another Charity to secure The Royal Star & Garter’s sail banner into the grass to mark our spot. We had arrived!
It was a great opportunity to meet with the rest of ‘the team’: there was Zac from the Richmond Housekeeping team, Myles a former employee, together with James, Alex , Charlene and her partner Gareth (a Serving soldier), Allan – his third time running for the Homes! – and my personal trainer, Jacky, with her husband David. Jacky and David were running the race literally with me, Jacky on my right and David on my left – so I felt incredibly lucky to have such committed support to help me through my very first 10K event.
A photo call prompted some heroic poses and momentarily distracted us from the mounting sense of excitement as we waited to be called to the runners start area. Having wished all the runners a great run, and said goodbye to Jane, family and friends, Jacky, David and I headed through Green Park to the Mall in front of Buckingham Palace. The sheer numbers of people (11,000 people participated in this event) were converging in waves; the atmosphere had me catching my breath with excitement and I felt part of something really amazing. I thought about all the people who have so kindly supported me, and of our residents, and why we were there taking part in this incredible event. Massive speakers pumped out loud, fast-paced dance music and there was a really buzzy atmosphere as we filed through to find a spot in the middle of the Mall!
We heard the countdown at 10.00am for the elite runners to set off, and we all joined in counting from 10 to Go! And clapping as the top athletes set off down the Mall towards Trafalgar Square and the open road.
Eventually it was our turn, we loudly counted down, and then we were off! Quickly we settled into an easy rhythm and comfortable pace, and the crowds along the Mall cheering, smiling and waving were wonderful.
As we ran past Trafalgar Square and Nelson’s Column David asked if I had ever run past these iconic landmarks in the middle of the road before, and this truly brought home how special this event is! By the time we got to Victoria Embankment, the elite runners were on the return leg of their run, a phenomenal and inspiring achievement and they made it look so easy!
At various points throughout the run we were treated to the most wonderful music, from steel bands, jazz and drums, which was such a treat, and really helped to keep the motivation levels high. In fact we had run 5k before we really knew it!
It was around this point that the effects of the heat starting to take hold. It must have been around 26 plus degrees, with little shade, and virtually no breeze to cool us down. Those four months of training with Jacky in Richmond Park and at the gym now really began to pay off, helped by David periodically pouring cold water over my head to help cool me down. Under normal circumstances this would have elicited some choice words from me and perhaps a sharpened elbow, but he is more than forgiven as this prevented me from overheating in the sun.
So many different charities were represented by runners going the distance for a good cause; all the famous names, plus some smaller charities we had not heard of before. We spotted runners for Blind Veterans UK, SSAFA, RAFBF, Help for Heroes and the ABF. We exchanged good wishes with our fellow Service charity runners where we could.
Along the route at a pace now and turning to run by the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben and with huge crowds of people lining the streets, calling out, waving and wishing all the runners well I had several goose-bump moments and felt so proud to be part of it. Finally, the 9k marker came into sight and without consciously intending to, I lengthened my pace, put my head right up and started to stride out with Jacky and David comfortably adjusting to this new running rhythm. At the final bend before the Mall, in this new all-breaking-loose speed, we hear my husband and children calling out and look around just in time to see them in the throngs. The 400-metre marker came closer and closer, at which point David rallied into a really strong, fast run, hell for leather to reach the finish line.
What an incredible race, and we felt euphoric, emotional and somewhat hot and bothered! The crowds were cheering and the atmosphere was incredible. It was a day I will never forget and as it was so much fun, Jacky, David and I have already signed up for next year!
Director of Care & Service Development