Mo Santa Olympic Park thingy 

Yesterday I took part in the Queen Elizabeth OR Mo Santa Olympic Park 10k race (I have no idea what the actual official name of this race is/was!). I signed up a while ago because a lot of friends wanted to race it. Originally the plan was to dress up and do it for fun but as the event got closer I wanted to see what time I could get. Myself, Jonny and Alan were going to dress up as Mary, Joseph and Jesus but Alan didn’t race in the end. I decided to wear a Santa hat and some tinsel to get into the festive spirit as well as race. Lorna, Emily and I got on the tube to head over to the Olympic Park, due to the weather we were not looking forward to the run. However knowing the rest of the Bartpack were going to be there we knew it would be fun even in the cold and rain.

Racing in the 10k was Lorna, Emily, Freya, Mary (I mean Jonny!), Toni, Greig, Michalis, Eilidh and a very weary Steve, 11 days into Advent Running. A lot of the group signed up to the race aiming for certain times. With tinsel attached to trainers and a Santa hat squeezed on my head we made our way to the start line. Queue a couple of pre-race photos:   

Greig, me, Lorna, Freya, Eilidh, Toni, Michalis, Emily and Mary… I mean Jonny.  

Due to wanting to see how fast I could run the 10k, I snuck my way towards the front of the field. Once near the front I bumped into a runner that has been reading my blog, it’s quite strange when you meet people that know you via social media. Joe had stumbled across my blog when researching the Thames Meander Marathon and he did really well in the November race finishing in 3:06. I’d done the August race which I loved, mainly because I got a personal best and finally went sub 3. We had a quick chat and then the race started. My legs were feeling a little ropey from the trailscape marathon the previous Saturday but I was hoping after a mile or two I would settle into a good pace and be able to do a time somewhere around 36 minutes. Luckily this ended up being the case; the route was nice and relatively flat. Also the weather was good for running in, just not standing around before and after the race. I set off at around 6 minute mile pace aiming for that 36 finishing time. I was in about 10th place or so and made it an aim to chase as many runners down as possible. In recent races I’ve found it much nicer to chase people down and move forward as the miles go by. In order to achieve a PB in shorter races I’ve found you have to enter the suffer zone as I like to call it. I spent a long time in that zone for Bristol 10k when I did 35:31 earlier in the year. Due to going to track for the last few months and racing a fair bit my fitness has improved quite a lot and therefore holding a pace of sub 6 minutes per mile felt relatively comfortable in the early stages of the 10k. As the race went on I felt strong and focussed on overtaking the runner in front. I enjoyed the route as it was two laps and due to zig-zagging around the Olympic park you got to see lots of other runners and give them a shout.

The first lap went to plan and I felt I still had a lot left in the tank to go through the gears over second 5k. Mark was feeling a bit under the weather (maybe hungover from last Saturday like Alan!? Haha) so he was there supporting instead of racing. It was good to see him at halfway; he got some good photos of everyone. Here’s my mobot:   

 I had a couple of runners to chase down and with 3 miles to go I started thinking about how many minutes I would have left to suffer for. I kept thinking “the quicker I run the quicker I’m in warm clothes and eating food” ha. I quite enjoy routes that are two laps, probably because I’m not the biggest fan of surprises, especially surprises like massive hills around corners on races (you all know what I mean). I also enjoyed the route because it weaved around the Olympic park; I find it boring and tedious running long straight sections of road, so this broke it up in to chunks.  

I managed to pick up the pace quite a bit and finished 7th with a time of 34:58 on the chip. This meant I’d got a new personal best by 33 seconds. I’m really happy with that result, especially after the trailscape marathon in Cuxton the week before and I’d done a relatively high number of miles in the week due to the Advent Running streak. After finishing, I caught up with the cheer crew (Mark). We cheered in the rest of the Bartpack; they all did really well. A lot of them got personal bests, well done Lorna, Emily (knocked a massive 3 minutes off her PB), Freya (went sub 40 mins for the first time), Toni (finished first female) and Michalis. Greig and Jonny also had really strong races. Jonny went sub 40 which is a great effort in that attire:   

 Mary and Freya on sub 40 pace

 Post race selfie with Lorna (@lorns_runs)

Overall the race was well organised, Run Through always do things well. My only constructive criticism would be for them to put a sheet under the bags in the bag drop tent, as afterwards when I wanted to be in warm dry clothes I ended up having to wear wet jeans, not great. I would also try and position the finish line on a straight so runners don’t have to change direction when sprinting through the line and over the timing mats. This is something that I have found a little frustrating when doing the Battersea races but overall the route was good, the marshals were really supportive and the finisher’s tees and race medals are great.  
That’s my racing for 2015 done; it’s been great fun doing races from one mile to 100k and everything in between. Thanks to all of you that I’ve run and raced with this year. Here’s the medal collection:  

 Which of these races have you done this year and what is your favourite race and/or medal? Comment on here or contact me on Twitter/Instagram @StephenSkinner6.

I will be writing a blog post soon about which races and events I’m doing next year and what goals I am setting. See a lot of you soon


Photos courtesy of Mark and Lorna. 


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