Just a short week ago I participated in Vitality London 10,000 for the first time. The annual event has been running since 2008 and it was my first chance to take part.
Previous years have seen me out of the country over the bank holiday weekend (not that I am complaining), so this year I decided to organise my holiday around the race instead.
And what a year to be joining thousands of runners through the capital.
The day started warm, muggy and with warnings from the organisers to take extra care in the heat, I knew from the get go I was not going to push for a PB. I had not run much of late, training for the Isle Of Wight Challenge meant that I had very little time to commit to running. So, my plan was to take in the event, enjoy the course and simply complete.
What a race it was. With thousands of runners ready in pens on the Mall between St James Park and Green Park, the atmosphere was filled with excitement and nerves. Not only were there many regular runners taking part, but also Sir Mo Farah.
Due to the sheer volume of participants it took some time to reach the start line. The pens were evenly distributed to ensure safety on course. Though once there the legend that is Dame Jessica Ennis-Hill was sending runners on their merry way – high fiving them as they passed through, myself included.
The route saw us run from the Mall down the Strand, into the city following many of the same streets as those I pounded during the London Winter Run and London Landmarks Half Marathon.
Though I have run these streets of London on numerous occasions, each race never feels the same. The routes seem so much easier in the Winter Months, when the air is cooler and kinder for runners. On Bank Holiday Monday the temperature was so very different, with the city streets trapping any kind of breeze, very little air and providing the hot and muggy conditions we were promised.
I took it easy. Stopping a lot more than I normally would; partly due to the heat and partly due to the fact that I had not completed that many training miles in the lead up to the event.
Despite the heat, the route was thoroughly enjoyable. Yet again the atmosphere on the streets of London was infectious. Spectators came out in their thousands, some cheering on loved ones and some just cheering on strangers. Each and every one of them encouraging those who were participating – something I always miss when running local races, where there is a lack of support throughout the routes.
It was not my best time for a 10K and it was not my worst either. What it was was a well organised, enjoyable event which saw runners take on the streets of London whilst passing iconic sights of our great city.
And the best part for me was running that final 800 metres, the same 800 metres I ran during the London Marathon, along Birdcage Walk and where my Uncle was cheering me on just over a year ago.
Starting and finishing where my London Marathon journey ended all that time ago was rather sensational. There is nothing like finishing a race outside Buckingham Palace and if I never have the opportunity to run the London Marathon again, at least I will be able to finish a race in the same spot.
The Vitality London 10,000 has quickly become one of my favourite 10K races. The organisation, the start and finish on the Mall, the atmosphere and running the iconic streets of London is all second to none.
I have no doubt that it will quickly become a regular in my racing calendar.