Last Sunday, I ran a 10k as part of London’s Summer League. The League is competition of five races between June and August at parks around London. It is a club competition, so not something you can just attend as a “runner off the street”. The clubs taking part in the league are Dulwich Park Runners, Metros, Ealing, Southall and Middlesex, Mornington Chasers, Serpentine RC, Sudbury Court, Ealing Eagles and Queens Park Harriers.
The day begins with 5 mile or 10km race which covers all standards and is based at a park local to the hosting club. On Sunday, we were running in, or more accurately, on the pavements around Dulwich Park. Following the main event there is a shorter ‘tenderfoot’ (1.5-2km) race for children. Finally there is a series of age graded, 300-400m relays. I enjoyed the 10k quite as much as any race I’ve done since I began running again just over a year ago. I began very slowly, and eventually teamed up with a runner from the Mornington Chasers, who led me round the course until there was only about 2k to go, when I was able to increase my pace a little.
The race was in three laps and my splits of 19, 18 and 14 minutes give you an indication both of the general standard (9-10 minute per mile pace perfectly allowed at one end, with other runners completing the 10k in not much over 30 minutes), and my own improving fitness on recovering from what has been a debilitating achilles injury.
I watched the tenderfoot races and enjoyed meeting a number of running families, with up to 4 children running the 1.5k (as well as parents running the 10k). By the time you get much above age 7, the standard seemed high. I would love it if my own boys wanted to join in.
I then ran the second leg of the Chasers’ men’s B relay, which is the first time in more than 20 years I’ve run 400 metres (actually, I think it was more like 300 metres, but who’s counting?). The sprints are on grass, I wasn’t wearing spikes, and the adrenaline was pumping much faster than I could use it. I found myself running almost comically – super-fast with my legs and super-slow with my feet. As another runner asked, “Who’s Hamster Legs?” To try and speed up I found myself having to force my legs to go slower, if that makes sense. Silly as it must have looked, I enjoyed myself enormously.
Eagle-eyed readers of this blog will have noticed that I am also a member of the Serpentine Running Club. I wanted to run with the Chasers because they’re a smaller group (so it’s much easier to meet other runners), because two friends of mine are Chasers regulars, and because they have a reputation as a friendly and welcoming club.
Many thanks to everyone I met (including the Chaser who let me borrow his spare club top) for making me feel at home. The remaining races in the Summer League are as follows:
24th June Headstone Manor Rec
8th July Perivale Park
22nd July Regents Park
26th August, Battersea Park