“Fast and flat.”
That’s what the race information upon entering said. What the website failed to mention, though, was that this actually referred to the weather conditions the organisers expected during the winter race. It should have read “fast winds that flatten anyone foolish enough to run in its wide open path”.
Not knowing this vital information, plenty of 5, 10 and 20k-ers turned up to the Olympic rowing venue in Eton, only to be met with an eye-watering head-on cyclone – a shame as it made taking in the (probably) picturesque venue quite tricky. It also made running in a straight line pretty tough, as every blast sent us wayward and dangerously close to the water’s edge.
So seeking safety (or rather, shelter) in numbers, all entrants packed together and set off as one herd – each marker pen-numbered runner thankful at avoiding a face full of flapping paper. The gusts had (presumably, as there were none) already blown away any mile markers on the course but a half-way water station and a particularly supportive marshal, that reassured us he was stationed at the 4km point each time we passed, navigated us round the 5km loop.
The hill-less course welcomed PB seeking competitors as well as beginner trotters but 5km laps and multiple distances meant that very few were left plodding the course alone. The relaxed atmosphere – as reflected in the lunchtime start (we set off at 1:30pm) – also helped welcome all abilities to what could easily have been a first or 100th race.
If the full force gale (rather than slight lack of training and extended new year hangover) hindered any chance of grabbing that goal pace, fret not! This race is just the first in a trilogy, so you have the chance to get battered by weather three times a year. But, of course, this also means you can refuel with a post-race bacon butty thrice a year, too.