On Sunday I woke up at the ungodly hour of 7:30am, put on my running stuff and boarded the train to Greenwich Park with a number of other yawning individuals in green coloured t-shirts. At the other end I joined a mass of other yawning runners (and kind/even madder friends and family) to walk through Greenwich Park and find my colour-coded pen. Why? This Sunday was the annual Run to the Beat half-marathon organised by Nike. The 13.1 miles course circles Greenwich Park and the surrounding area, taking in roads, Thames side paths and even part of the Woolwich barracks.
As a keen runner I had been considering running a half-marathon for a while, then six weeks ago an email dropped into my inbox asking if there were any volunteers crazy enough to take up the challenge and run to raise money for Nordoff Robbins. The charity is supported by Ticketmaster and uses music therapy to help people with mental and physical problems and is supported by some fabulous artist included Annie Lennox, Laura Wright and Labrinth. In fact Annie does a great bit you can watch right here.
But back to the race! Run to the Beat encourages runners to keep moving by setting up DJ posts around the course, including sets from the likes of Kate Lawler, Goldie Rocks, Joe Joyce and many more. The finish area also includes a stage playing live music across the afternoon from the likes of Jessie J – just in case you weren’t quite tired out after your run!
I have always known I was a much better long distance runner than short, and as mad as it may seem I will happily run 10k over 5k any day, however I still found myself waiting nervously for the buzzer to sound the start! Unbelievably I missed Adam Gemili starting the race, and if I hadn’t I might have run a lot faster!
Hitting mile six bang at my planned time helped to give me my second wind, that and a little Frank Turner on my iPod at mile 7 I was surpassed by another Nordoff Robbins runner who gave me a big thumbs up! By the time I reached mile 8 with Bastille blasting in my ears, I spotted the beaming faces of the Nordoff Robbins family. I was sure I was slowing, but their encouraging words helped me pick up my pace and I was soon back into the rhythm of my run! Passing a group of my friends at mile 11 I had the Editors playing me up the hill. Kodaline were carrying me past my dedicated other half at mile 12, though I should mention he ran almost as far as me – following me around the course gave me the motivation to keep going!
Passing the finish line at 1 hour 52 minutes was a fantastic feeling, but fantastic still was knowing that I had done this for such an amazing charity. Altogether those of us running helped to raise nearly £7,000 for Nordoff Robbins, including the massively talented classical singer Laura Wright who was kind enough to pose for a picture with me at the end.
So what did I learn from all this? I learnt it’s great to be able to use something you enjoy to help others, I learnt what a fabulous charity Nordoff Robbins is and I learnt that I can run 13.1 miles in less that 2 hours! Bring on the next one!