So whilst on a run last year I had run past Stanborough lakes in Welwyn and seen a sign saying “Poppy Run“- I had no money with me so no chance of entering, but I filed it away in my brain and this year signed up in advance.
The route started less than 2 miles from home, at 11am, and it was the day the clocks went back, so I had been up for a long time. I had porridge for breakfast, as although usually I don’t eat before I run, it was going to be a long time. Then I jogged down there for a gentle warm up.
It was a lovely low key event- you queued up at the gazebo in the car park to collect your number and t-shirt (this was taken at the end!), and the start was right next to it. The t-shirt was cotton, and I don’t normally like to run in them, but I didn’t want to be “that person”- anyway I had on a long sleeved breathable top, so it went over the top of that just fine. I was wearing a jacket on the way, but it was way too warm for 3 layers so left my top in the gazebo while I ran- so much easier than a bag drop!
They didn’t have a warm up (thankfully) but they did have a man from the British Legion talking about their events, and the fundraising. The local MP (Grant Shapps) was there to start the race, and he told us all he was going to run it, but would take a short cut to ensure that he was back to give out the medals to all the finishers.
The route was around the lake- two laps of the lake, and then two shorter laps (there is a bridge that cut the lake in half so you did that for lap 3 and 4).
It was an interesting mix of people; lots of families and small children (including one with a very small child on a scooter- good plan!), but some club runners too. One lady was wearing a Yorkshire marathon finisher’s t-shirt, which did seem a bit like overkill for a 5k that was not even timed. One guy was running in shorts, club vest and a massive bobble hat. It was quite a cold morning!
We counted down from 10, and then we were off. I tried to stay fairly near the front, as the paths are fairly narrow and I didn’t want to get stuck behind people walking it. The runners thinned out fairly soon, and I got into a good rhythm. It is a small lake, but quite pretty, and I enjoyed the route. The MP overtook me on my second lap, and I didn’t see him again- I think that he may have had to finish to be there in time for the speediest runners.
I glanced at my watch a few times to see 9 something which was good, and all of a sudden it was my final lap and I was heading over the little bridge to the finish straight. As I stopped my hand was shaken, I was presented with a medal and told “15th finisher, well done”- that took me by surprise! Of course it was not a competitive race (no clock or chips etc) but there were quite a few club t-shirts and “serious” runners at the start, so I didn’t expect to be that high up!
The finish straight- Grant Shapps in his t-shirt and shorts handing out the medals.
I asked someone to take my picture (she had already done so for someone else!) and then picked up my jacket. My face matches the poppies!
I attempted another selfie to show that the running tights were finally out of the drawer- sad times.
I texted Andy as he said he would come and pick me up- I could have run the 2 miles home, but we had afternoon plans (well, tea and cake at John Lewis….) so didn’t want to get home too late. Although he couldn’t get to the car park so I ended up running a bit of the way home. It was only when I got in the car that I realised my Garmin was still going- whoops!
The medal was good too. The t-shirt is cotton, so no good for running in really, but I have seen on their website that they have started making technical t-shirts too, so I wonder if next year they will up the entry fee (it was only £10, plus a booking fee, although you could donate more) and include one of those instead.
At some point I will try and work out my time, but really that was not what the run was about at all. I really enjoyed it and think that the event would be great for a first “race”, and equally would be enjoyed by seasoned runners. I am sure I will be back next year too, which is always the biggest test.
Are your running tights out yet? I though they were out for good, but on Tuesday morning I went for a run in capris and a vest as it was so warm!