On a very early Sunday morning I was on my way into Central London to cheer on some friends and teammates running in the British 10k London run. My running coach Eugene Gilkes had organised a group of people to run for the charity Depression Alliance. It was just the right thing to make me forget my World Cup hangover for a little while.
Eugene had asked me to forward his email to find people who were interested to run. I was really surprised when I heard that my librarian friend and former colleague Caitlin Verney had signed up. Caitlin took up running last autumn and normally runs around the Outer Circle of Regents Park. She had never run in a race before and whilst she was confident she could complete the distance, she wasn’t quite sure how she would deal with being part of a crowd of 25,000 runners and all the distractions that come with it. I was really impressed with her decision and went along to cheer her on.
Originally I had planned to go as near as possible to the corner of Victoria Embankment and Westminster Bridge to see the runners go past me more than once. Once I got out of Embankment tube station I started walking towards Big Ben. People were lining the road near the station and lots of charities were setting up their flags and banners to support their runners. But closer to the Whitehall government buildings there weren’t that many people around. A group of scouts were meeting up, the sound of the national anthem spilled out from what I think is the Ministry of Defence building and I was asked by some tourists to take a picture of them in front of the London Eye. Always happy to help!
I realised that the route actually led he runners from Trafalgar Square down Northumberland Avenue to the river Thames. Therefore I decided to turn back and position myself in the middle of the road near Cleopatra’s Needle, where I could stay in one place and see everyone go past me twice. I ended up next to a group of adults and kids who were cheering for their mum. It didn’t take long and the security stewards asked us all to get up from the curbs and the first car came along. Shortly after that a car with a large clock on its roof went slowly past, followed by the pacemakers for the elite runners. These were followed by the first charity runners and soon we were cheering on a sea of moving bodies.
I learned quickly that you have more chance of people cheering you on if you have your name written on your running top. One to remember! Unless of course you fancy running as your favourite cartoon character!
I kept clapping my hands and screening the crowd for Caitlin, Eugene and my football teammates Sian, Sam and Erin. In the end I must have cheered nonstop for about an hour and a half whilst staring at the crowd at the same time. I didn’t spot either of the five, but Sian spotted me both times she came past!
It was the first time I went to watch a charity running event and I really enjoyed the atmosphere. Moments like this make me look forward to the Olympics next year, although we probably won’t see such easy access for spectators.
I met up with Caitlin and the others in a pub afterwards. They were all very pleased with their performances and had really enjoyed the whole experience. Caitlin finished in just over an hour which is a really good time for the first one. Well done to everyone who took part or cheered on their nearest and dearest!