I’ll be completely honest with my preparation for this one – I was only ready when I overheard ‘START!’ whilst talking to some friends. Until that point I had given little thought to this marathon, not because I didn’t care about it but, well I flew out to Uganda the same evening and so all my preparation thoughts were focused on Uganda. My only prep as such in the build up was meeting a few friends to be presented with a sombrero to wear during the race! Even on the way to Richmond Park I was thinking about the adventure which lay ahead in Uganda.
When I was planning my race calendar at the end of last year, I prioritised big ‘must do’ races and then fitted the smaller ones like this around them. The main incentive behind this one was that it was cheap and local! As this was the first of 4 in 4 weeks, I knew I couldn’t go flat out as there wasn’t even the potential for a PB. A few days before the London marathon a friend was joking around and some how came up with the idea of running wearing a sombrero! I wanted to run fast in London and wasn’t prepared to give it up by wearing a sombrero, however I agreed to wear it for Richmond Park as I needed to spice it up a little to keep me excited during the race! When we met up the Friday before the race, I started laughing as soon as I saw it, then I turned it over to see so many amazing messages of support from Project Awesome, I loved reading everyone of them and thank everyone for the most incredible support!
As mentioned my preparation for this one was far from perfect, I had a ridiculously busy and active Saturday, which included losing and thankfully getting my runners back! So on to the actual race! I had another friend running and few friends come down to support me which was great, especially as I was wearing a sombrero and didn’t look like a complete joke, at the start anyway! I was doing my final stretches at the back of the field as I heard the race start, last high fives and then this was it I was about to start running a marathon wearing a sombrero and I had never ran in a sombrero, EVER! Within metres the sombrero came flying off, only saved by the chin strap. I put it back on but it was only about 10 seconds later if flew off again this time more or less chocking me, perfect running conditions I though to myself! I realised with 26 miles ahead of me I had to do something which was going to make this bearable.
One of the things I love about the ‘London FUN-RUN Series’ is how social they are and through that running is easier, so I decided I was going to run with my speaker, in the hope of friends as well as fun! What a great decision this was! Around a mile into the marathon I reached into my camelbak and hit play on the ‘FUN-RUN’ playlist. Suddenly the runners around me started looking over their shoulders, where’s this noise coming from? Is there a vehicle following us? No! Adventure Adam UK is about to have a 26mile party and all are invited! As we we’re early on in the race, there was plenty of support for it, oh and wearing the sombrero was adding to the idea of partying our way round the course. I then saw my friends by chance who were making thier way round the park, I’m sure the sombrero and pumping tunes assured them I was having a good time.
Around mile 2 or 3 I spotted the word ‘Uganda’ on someone’s back, I quickly caught up in the hope I may be able to make a Uganda marathon friend early. As I got nearer I read ‘Kate’s Uganda Fund’ on her back and asked are you running the Uganda marathon? The answer was no, I explained what Uganda marathon was all about – ‘a race like no other’, writing this post Uganda I’d say it’s ‘a week like no other’. Kate is in fact a medical student who is going out to medical clinic in Uganda in the summer and commendably wanted to fundraise for it by running her first marathon. I didn’t really have any aims or expectations for this marathon so decided to run with Kate for a while and make sure she felt good during her first marathon. It wasn’t long before we had a party crew together, having a lot of fun, absolutely not feeling the pain of running a marathon. I got a tweet in the evening saying hearing Gangsters Paradise running at party pace was their highlight of the marathon.
All these goings on while wearing a sombrero! By mile 5 after various adjustments I had found the perfect way to wear a sombrero whilst running a marathon, I can’t let you into the secret as in my quest I decided it was a bit of business planning ahead of marketing the worlds first ‘RUNbrero’, first in Mexico of course! Honestly once I had found the best way it turned out to be an inspired decision in the more open areas of the park, the runners around me were commenting how hot it was, I was really appriecistive of feeling nice and cool under the shade of the sombrero. I have to say a huge thank you to Project Awesome for their support and especially all the ‘awesome’ messages written on it.
As the tunes continued so did the miles, on a course of 2.5 laps I was pleasantly surpsired to not be feeling the drag of having to go round again, I’m not a massive fan of lapped courses. We had to run a hill which I didn’t know existed in Richmond Park until now, although at least second time round you know you’re rewarded with an aid station as well as some crowd support.
For those of you who don’t know Richmond Park there are wild deer in thier hundreds. None on the actual course this time around but plenty spectating as we ran past. I can guarantee a visit will be accompanied with sightings. There isn’t too much else to report other than it was an absolute pleasure to run a marathon in one of my favourite parks in London. I’ll also add wearing a sombrero made it a heck of a lot more fun!
This was the first time I’ve ever made running a marathon a social event, I guess having people cheer and support you is social but I mean socially mixing with other runners, other than how’s your race going?, you can do this! Have you run this beforehand? The result, I’ve never found running a marathon as comfortable as this one. Simple by playing some music you attract people who are keen to hear a tune to get them going to and chat just to take their mind off running. I’m really happy this worked out as this is what my ‘London FUN-RUN Series’ is about social running!
Location: Richmond Park, South West London
Weather: 15-18°C, warm and sunny
Terrain: 90% trail, 10% road
Time: 4 hours 15 minutes
This marathon was the first of 5 in 6 weeks, here’s the schedule:
Sunday 17th May – Richmond Park, London
Sunday 24th May – Uganda International Marathon
Sunday 31st May – Edinburgh Marathon
Sunday 7th June – Lakeland Trails Marathon, Lake District
Saturday 20th June – Midnight Sun Marathon, Tromso, Norway