The inaugural London Winter Run took place on the 1st of February 2015. I initially came to learn about this event through a Facebook link, and signed up for the run in August 2014. Communication into the lead-up to the event was good, with frequent newsletters and even a free beanie hat I received (as did the first few 1000 runners who signed up). The main attraction for me was yet another opportunity to run through central London on closed roads. There is just something surreal about running through the Capital with no traffic and plenty of opportunity to look at the sights.
I was allocated the first wave with a 9:30am start, but advised to enter the “warm-up zone” (aka, holding pen) 45 minutes before. I was a little nervous about this, as it was a very cold day, with temperatures at 2 degrees Celsius, with the weather stating that it actually feels like -2. They were not wrong. There was a sharp, bitter bite in the frequent winds that repeatedly blew against my bare legs. I tried to keep warm with a space blanket, alas, attempts were thwarted by the breeze. I queued up in time and managed to shuffle to the front near the start line. Although all runners near the front were perhaps assigned the first wave, it was clear that not all were planning to run to maximum effort!
We set off for the run promptly at 9:30am. After dodging a few people in front of me, my path was clear in around 30 seconds, and in no time I was cruising down the Embankment, admiring the sights across the river! The run largely went well, as I tried to maintain a constant pace of under 3:50/km. Of course, there were some fluctuations in my pace as slight undulations and windy conditions took effect.
Interestingly, this was my first race where I decided not to run the entire course holding onto a water bottle. This served me well, and I only took a brief sip from a bottle at a water station located at the 5km mark (the only water station on the course, in fact), which was not an issue as the cold weather suppressed my thirst anyhow.
I managed to cross the finish line in 38:18, which was ‘exactly’ my previous PB from the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park 10k in November last year. As a whole, I was a little disheartened as I really wanted to run the course in under 38 minutes. Reflecting back, I feel that I could have perhaps pushed myself a little harder in the final kilometre to run my desired time. However, owing to the very cold conditions and standing in the start pen for some 45 minutes prior to the race, am still going to give myself a pat on the back.
At the finish I met a running friend of mine, Mark, who also had a good run, finishing in 39:11! We had a chat and got our medals before having our photo snapped by a fellow runner. The only other items given at the finish were a well deserved water bottle and coconut drink. A little disappointing after paying around £40 for a 10k run. A goody bag with a finishers T-shirt would have been very much appreciated.
On a positive note, Marshals were quite friendly, a Polar Bear hugged me before the run and another gave me a high-5 at the end. Put a smile on my face and was nice to know that the organisers had made an effort to welcome runners. One slight complaint I did have from the Marshals was their direction giving instructions before the run, as I was being led back and forth in the cold to reach the start line due to conflicting advice they provided.
My overall position was 33 / 11471, which placed me in the top 0.29% of finishers! Points I feel where the run could have been improved were: 1) Not holding the runners in a pen for 45 minutes before the run in such extreme conditions, 2) Less back and forth tight turns along the route, 3) A goody bag, 4) A course accurately measured by UK Athletics (as a result, finish times will not be posted to powerof10). I also did not receive a text with my time, as promised.
All-in-all, a nice route which could do with some improvements around the City area and better wave organisation. Will I be back for the 2016 London Winter Run? Probably not. Unless the above points are addressed, I think that I will give the next one a miss.