The price of entry to big races is getting expensive. Everyone wants great locations, closed roads, clinical organisation, loads of toilets, goody bags and big medals.
The price to enter the London 10 mile was £44 and then they also sneaked on a £2.53 processing fee! Something that’s common and really annoying for music gigs, but nothing I’ve come across at running events. It didn’t stop me or plenty of others though. The chance to run on closed roads in London’s largest park, close to home was too tempting. The PA guy announced that there were 5000 starters. The results page says there were 3233 finishers (with a number of DNFs). The website suggests that there could have been up to 10,000 entries, so 50% capacity (or around 33%) may be a disappointment to the organisers for their first event.
Upon entry, I was also offered the chance to purchase car parking for £15. Another first, and a steep price that I believe is un-required and over the top. Why not a nominal fee of a couple of pounds? It’s possibly understandable some control is needed due to limited parking in the park and the logistics of closing the roads in the park and the carnage that could ensue. This information was made very clear and a large bike park was provided that looked well used on the day. Parking was available on the surrounding local roads.
10-mile races are, I believe fairly popular in the USA and were many years ago in the UK. This race was a bit of a revival and a bridge between 10km and a half marathon.
A 10.30 am start time was very pleasant so there was plenty of time to dawdle in the morning. I got dropped off at the Roehampton Gate, a 10-minute walk to the event village. There were plenty of annoyed cyclists, wondering why their beloved circuit of Richmond Park was closed. Following my standard operating procedure – I dropped my bag, went to the loo and headed to my starting pen.
There was a bit of a delay to the start as the organisers kindly let the toilets queues clear and then held a minute’s silence following the attacks in London Bridge the night before. The starting pens were strictly marshalled and each coloured pen set off in delayed waves to spread the runners out.
I was in the second wave, the sun was out and I set off with some trepidation. I’ve cycled around Richmond Park plenty of times and know how lumpy it is and how the hills can quickly sap your energy.
The start was fairly narrow and I hardly noticed much of it was uphill. I tried to settle in and run on feel as I had at Hackney. Trying not to go too fast as I knew what was ahead of me.
The first hill came at about 3.5 miles and also came with the Richmond Park head wind. A wind that seems to always be in your face, whichever direction you’re travelling. The hill was negotiated well due to my legs still feeling fresh. The sun was beating down and I was glad of the water station at the top.
What goes uphill, must come downhill. There were plenty of sections to take a breather or let your legs go and make up a bit of time. This was shown in my mile pace that varied all over the place from 7:20 to 9:11.
The first time event was organised by CSM Active, part of CSM Sport and Entertainment, which is chaired by Lord Coe and headed up by former international athlete Jon Ridgeon. Their aim is to increase mass participation as well as improving the accessibility and popularity and highlighting the benefits of running. Their aims can’t be sneezed at, yet being owned by a private equity investment firm, profits are surely important too.
I hit Broomfield Hill, a short, sharp hill that always ruins me on my bike and nearly did the same on my feet. It felt like I was about to come to a stop at times. I held it together without blowing up for the remaining miles and the downhill finish was a welcome relief. Giving it all I had left down the final straight, I even looking over my shoulder a couple of times to check that no one was about to sneak past me before the line.
I crossed the line in 1:23:15. Tired but happy with my time and an average pace of 8:17 min/mile. I also now had a PB for 10 miles. I met my girlfriend, collected some water, some pop chips and my bag and we parked ourselves on a hay bail.
The event village was well prepared and a good size so there was plenty of space to put down a picnic blanket and recover with friends and family. The good weather really helped, as did the live music. There was a mobile bar so you could get a beer or a glass of wine (you could have brought your own) and also food stalls including fish and chips, burgers, churros, pizza and Columbian fare. Bad food and beers taste so good after a race!
There are a couple of event related items that I have to bring up. The British Deer Society, a charity that focuses on deer welfare and promoting their conservation in balance with the environment had a stand at the race. This stand was selling deer feet for £1 each as well as other parts of the animal. Whilst the event positions itself as being in the beautiful surroundings of Richmond Park, where the deer have right of way. The park being so synonymous with deer. A stand at the event selling dead animal parts left a bad taste in my mouth and was very much out of place.
There was also a very nice looking VIP area for the sponsors and their guests (Timothy James and Partners – Independent Financial Advisors) of the event with a bar, tables and leather armchairs. I’m sure the sponsorship was very useful to the organisers, the Royal Parks and Great Ormond Street Hospital (the official charity) and is a nice corporate wellbeing tick for the sponsors. But it looked all about corporate banking schmoozing. Not really the inclusivity spoken about by the organisers or what parkrun stands for (through an exclusive partnership with parkrun, the London 10 Mile gave a percentage of its entry revenue to parkrun)
Overall, a pricey and well-organised event recommend to people who don’t get much opportunity to get to Richmond Park. I’m not sure how the event would have coped with double the actual numbers as projected. The numbers seemed about right to me. Value for money? I’m not sure. As I said at the top, this seems to be the price of these bigger closed road events now, so maybe we will have to get used to it.
This recap is a little bit ranty. I really enjoyed the event and I’m sure it will become a popular event on the race calendar. The running festival with music, food and drink is definitely a thing now, and something I really like. The organisers seem to have the best of intentions and balancing that and being a business can be tricky. I’m sure securing Richmond Park for the day is not a cheap exercise. But I feel there were a few missteps that are hopefully corrected as CSM Active seems like the kind of company that can put on some really good mass participation events.