WHAT: 10k night run
WHERE: Victoria Park, London
WHEN: 10th may 2014
This event marks my one year racing anniversary. Last year, in the hours before my very first race, I paced my living room, took too many kit layout photos and obsessively checked the time. 365-ish days and 21 races later, my routine is a little different - there was no pacing around, I automatically threw my kit on rather than art directing photos of it, and checked the time through excitement and impatience rather than fear. It seems I've learned to relax before races.
But that's not all. Since last summer, I've learned that runners are amazingly supportive and friendly people; seven pairs of trainers is not enough; time doesn't always matter; hills hurt...but I love them; running is the best way to see new places; rain is refreshing; RUNger is hard to satisfy; and you can always go further or faster...
It seems a runner can learn a lot in a year.
The same is true of race organisers. In the midst of first race exhilaration, I was oblivious to a few people that were unhappy with Nike's women only We Own the Night in 2013 - there were a few first race hiccups that stopped those runners enjoying the experience. It's brilliant, then, that Nike have listened to all those niggles and improved on every detail to make this year's We Own the Night even bigger and better! Here's how...
1) Runners' friends aren't always runners but they're happy to support our crazy pursuits. So giving every entrant a +1 to the race village meant nervous runners could be comforted and PBs could be celebrated.
2) 10,000 runners plus their +1s needed a much bigger race village. This one was complete with food vans, bars, a Nike boutique, a stretch zone and a Nike fuel tent where you could create a training plan for your next challenge.
3) This race encourages women of all abilities to take part, so creating six different waves meant the speedier runners weren't held back and slower runners didn't feel demotivated by being overtaken by crowds.
4) There's nothing more stressful before a race than being stuck in queues. But this year, the bag drop was run by army efficiency and (very importantly with a women's race) there were plenty of porta-loos.
5) Those not familiar with Victoria Park were guided through every terrain change and every sharp turn with clear signs.
6) At almost every kilometre of the 2-lap course there was some form of entertainment or distraction. My favourites were the light tunnel with blaring music and the brass band - Jessie J's "It's My Party" never sounded so good!
7) Whilst still not technically a medal, the race souvenir this year was a beautiful Alex Monroe necklace.
I'd call that a big, fat success! Whatever Nike have under their hats for next year, I'll be there.