Being a fitness blogger that doesn’t run, it’s not very often that I’m invited to take part in races, so when a lovely email came along from Virgin Sport British 10K, my first instinct was to decline politely as always, explaining that my joint condition doesn’t allow for high impact activities such as running. Then I got to thinking, my boyfriend is a very keen runner, having run half marathons and 10Ks in the past, and I’ve never actually been to watch a major race in London, so I suggested that he run in my place, and I write about my experiences as a race spectator…so that’s what we did!
A Word on the Race
Now, even though I’m writing from a spectator’s point of view, it’d be a bit silly of to not mention Cyrus’s experience at all! So here’s a little insight into his race, and how we found the whole process from start to finish line.
Pre-race, Cyrus’s had a rather early wake-up call, being in one of the earliest start pens. We headed into a very empty Central London, spotting other runners on the tube, race numbers at the ready, bleary-eyed supporters clutching coffee cups as they gave up their Sunday mornings to watch their loved ones run around Westminster (I was one of them too).
As we got closer to the bag drop area, things started to get busier, but everything was clearly sign posted, with specific areas for dropping belongings relating to race number. As I understand from other bloggers who have done these races, the long toilet queues are inevitable, but staff were on hand to helpfully move people to other queues that were shorter, and everyone seemed fairly jovial despite the early start.
During the race, Cyrus reported a decent number of water stations, essential considering it was 25 degrees and getting warmer by 9am, and a clearly marked route taking in some of the great London scenery.
From the Sidelines
After dropping Cyrus off at blogger hospitality, I made my way to the main spectator area at Trafalgar Square. An hour or so before the race was due to start, it was still largely empty save the entertainment sound check, a couple of early bird charity cheering stations being set up, and one or two faithful family members setting up camp with coffee and bacon sandwiches….yep, that was me too!
Virgin Sport had set up Fan Zones, with a nifty little route between each location to make seeing the runners at different stages easier for spectators – or ‘spectathletes’ as they like to call them. Complete with live music and entertainment, they made the day a fun-filled event for the whole family.
My biggest fear, despite being right at the front of the fence, was that I’d miss seeing my other half running past. I had no idea how spread out runners would be, how the tracking would work, or even his exact starting time. The Virgin Sport App allowed me to select Cyrus’s race number, and those of some other blogging buddies I knew were running, and supposedly follow them on the app using their trackers. Unfortunately, both myself, and the girl I’d got chatting with next to me who was trying to track her husband, couldn’t connect properly to the trackers. They didn’t seem to activate properly until 5k, we were standing at 4k!
Whether our internet was a little sluggish, or the trackers were having trouble activating, all of the people I were following were reporting as ‘Waiting to Start’ and suddenly kicked to life around the 5k mark. We were waiting at 4k, and luckily I managed to sport Cyrus, purely by watching race numbers that were in the same starting pen letter as him, and by roughly knowing which pacer he’d be running with. After that, his tracker worked perfectly, allowing me to follow where he was on the route, and meet him after the finish line.
Despite this little glitch, being a spectathlete was great! Once the runners started going past, the crowds increased, cheering was abundant and everyone was having fun. Virgin Sport made it easy to negotiate the closed London roads with a special route for the spectathletes to follow. Getting back to the bag drop was simple, and the day was done!
Many thanks to Virgin Sport for allowing Cyrus to take my place, and for a super fun race day. We were lucky that the weather played ball and provided us with a gorgeous, sunny morning and Cyrus ran a very respectable 46.55 minutes!! With his very cool new bling around his neck, we headed for a well deserved roast dinner and then home for a little nap. All in all, a Sunday well spent!
If you’re thinking about entering a Virgin Sport event, go for it! And if you’re a spectator, do go along and enjoy the atmosphere, it’s very exciting when your loved one runs past. I was so excited to cheer for Cyrus, I forgot to take a photo!! Luckily, a free race photo captured his race perfectly.
Thank you Virgin Sport!
My boyfriend received a complimentary place in the British 10k in return for this post. All views my own, please see Disclaimer for more information.