A Day Out in “That London”

By Simon Coombes

The BUPA 10k has been going a few years now and has got quite a good reputation for its fast-ish’ course (more on that to come) and good organisation. I think the fact that it is often compared to the often shambolic British 10k that takes place along some of the same roads adds to this reputation!!

Another reason for it’s popularity among club runners is that it doubles up as the UK 10K championships and offers some free club places. My first claim club Herne Hill Harriers had  a couple of entries going, so I was happy to take advantage of one of them . I had noticed some of the good times that LBAC’ers had posted the year before, so I knew the course must be pretty fast.

So on arrival in Green Park, my HHH team manager had told us that we were able to change in the ‘Championship tent’. This tent was alongside the start in the Mall, I must admit I was not sure if this was right, fears not allayed when I saw Scott Overall (2.10 for Berlin Marathon) and Chris Thompson (Mo Farah’s GB colleague in the 10,000m at London) sat on chairs quietly chatting to each other, in the not very busy tent! Funnily enough, these were the two who had stormed past me during my leg of the MK Relays, really gives you a good idea of how fast these top guys are. Also had a quick chat with former LBAC member John McDonnell, now of Luton AC. I had subsequently found out that the tent this was supposed to be sub 32 mins only, hey ho, good move Team manager!

An advantage of this was that we were able to do some strides right up until a couple of minutes before the start, whereas everyone else had to stand in line. Walking to the warm up area I had spotted Jordan, Charlie and Adam Haylock and gave them a quick wave. Also had a quick chat with yet another ex LBAC’er, Nikki Sykes, adorning the colours of Bourneville Harriers, her club in Birmingham.

So – the top guys and girls are announced – and we are off. As expected the start was stupidly fast through Admiralty arch, into Whitehall and down to the Embankment. The course then goes up the Embankment towards Blackfriars (London Marathon the wrong way) and I think I was on about 9.30 at 3k which would have been about 16.00 for 5k. But at this point the course comes off the Embankment and from there until 6k you have to negotiate a few twists and turns – nothing too severe, but it does slow you up a bit. So going through 5k at 16.25 I had been given my reality check again!

So feeling slightly deflated I tried to knuckle down to get to 7k – leaving 10 minutes to get to the finish. I spotted Gemma Steel  up ahead and slowly started to reel her in which gave me something to focus on. I was a bit surprised by this as she had previously run 32.10 at the Great Manchester run the week before, she must have had that still in her legs! So on past Blackfriars, you are basically doing the VLM course and you hit 9k just before you get to Big Ben. The wind was getting a bit gusty by this point and this only got worse as we turned right towards Horseguards Parade and the finish just before Buckingham Palace – when you’re tired 400m to go seems a long way on a straight road! Looking at the watch during the last couple of kilometres I was pretty sure I was sub 33 minutes, which was the aim before the start, so I was well happy to get over the line in 32.46. This turned out to be 2nd place in the V40 category, but as usual, no prize money! Although I suppose if there was decent prize money offered, I wouldn’t have been 2nd!

I didn’t manage to catch the other LBAC gang at the finish, but I do know Jordan Clay continued his improvement with a PB of 35.35 and has his sights set on sub 35 this season. Likewise Adam Haylock got over the line in 37.41 to get his second PB in three days, with his better half just nine seconds shy of her PB from Silverstone with a time of 45.13. Charlie Mead ended up with a very solid 39.37, with his PB of 39.01 being set at the Leighton 10k…..so he must prefer Hilly courses! Sam Dear was doing the race for the second year in a row and was nearly three minutes quicker than last year as he also gained a 17 second PB in 41.18.

Of our ex comrades, John McDonnell posted a fantastic 31.15 to finish 21st and Nikki Sykes apparently eased round in 37.39, just five places ahead of Adam. For the record Chris Thompson beat Scott Overall by seven seconds, but they were pushed into second and third by Andy Vernon who ran 29.33!

So a great day out with decent weather and a decent run. Happy days!