Greenwich Park, London
June 3, 2007
Mark Steinle 31:41
Jenny Jogger 38:55
No. of Finishers
On behalf of all Londoners, let me get the excuses in early. The realisation that this was going to be a tad more challenging than your average 10K race came before the race began, as I headed for the bandstand in Greenwich Park on a glorious sunny Sunday morning.
This involved walking up a long, steep hill to get to the start/finish line. The hill had plastic guide tapes on either side, suggesting it was part of the course. I hoped it would be a downhill section. My hopes were soon dashed.
This was the first staging of the race. The concept involves three races in three cities – London, Liverpool and Glasgow – starting at half-hour intervals. Afterwards, everyone’s finishing times are averaged out and the city with the quickest average time is declared the winner.
The London race started at 9:30am, which was a blessing because the sun was getting hotter by the minute. But well-stocked water stations and plenty of trees for shade meant the heat didn’t become too stifling.
After a busy start, the course took a long, steep downhill in the first kilometre, with the Old Royal Observatory to the right. But what goes down must come up, and sure enough, just past the 2K mark, Maze Hill loomed into view. This 800m uphill section immediately strung out what had until then been a compact field.
After struggling to the top runners were rewarded with a glimpse of the start/finish line, but the course then cruelly doubled back downhill again into the park. This, of course, meant another climb to get back up – shorter but steeper than the first. Some were reduced to walking up to complete the first lap.
The second lap was a little shorter and followed a slightly different loop, but it also contained a couple of lung-bustingly steep ascents. One of these had downhill and uphill sections parallel to each other – it’s hard to enjoy the downhill when you could see runners ahead of you to your left, their faces turning purple as they ascended the same hill.
Despite the tough course, there was fine encouragement from the PA man by the finish line, and a sizeable and enthusiastic crowd. And ultimately, there’s a lot to be said for an early morning run in warm summer sunshine in one of London’s most beautiful parks.
Totting up the results revealed that Glasgow won, with Liverpool second and London trailing in last. Well done to all you Glaswegians and Liverpudlians. Once us Londoners have done some intensive hill running sessions, we’ll have you next year.