Oh deer

So we traveled down to London last Sunday to do the Richmond Old Deer Park 10k, which was hilariously badly organised. The original plan had been to travel down, see my parents, see Becca’s friends in Chiswick and do the run. As it was Becca’s lot were in Sheffield at a documentary festival so that was the first ‘issue’.

We arrived ridiculously early on the Sunday, my dad had kindly given us a lift down but unfortunately the Mann family trait of always arriving unnecessarily early kicked in and we were there by about 7.20am with the race not due to start until 9.15am. Oh well we thought, we’ll register and then sit in the car eating our bananas and staying nice and warm. Unfortunately the race seemed to be slightly understaffed – we managed to register fine but about half an hour later (bear in mind this was still at about 8.00 in the morning!) an absolutely mega queue had started to form for everything that you could possibly queue for – registration, bag drop, toilets, you name it, there was a massive queue.

At about 8.30 we decided to brave the freezing conditions and head over to the start, nip to the loo and get ready to go. The only slight problem with this plan was that all of the queues had now reached biblical proportions, including the one for the toilets – of which there were only 10…for 2000 people. Perhaps unsurprisingly all of the queues meant that the start was delayed – or at least we assumed that was what happened as at the ‘planned’ start time of 9.15 there was a spectacular lack of race-starting, probably just as well as at this point we were still very much in the toilet queue. At 9.30, toilets done, we hung around waiting for the race to start, it was so cold that we had taken advice straight out of the SAS survival guide and decided to huddle together for warmth (note to self, running vests aren’t terribly good at keeping you warm on a november morning), 10 minutes later we took the brave step of heading back to sit in the car until we could see some kind of sign the race might start. After sitting in the car for a bit that sign came – with the race starting and hundreds of runners haring off down the footpath. Bollocks. We had to run from the car, across a busy dual carriageway (not recommended) and round through the start – by the time we actually crossed the start line the clock read 3 minutes and we were definitely right at the back, which really annoyed Becca and we started a concerted charge through the ranks of a lot of people wearing all the right gear (lots of men wearing compression tights and headbands) but moving at what amounted to walking pace (all the gear but no bloody idea!).

Unfortunately the route wasn’t really suited to concerted charges being a footpath and all, and an open footpath at that, we dodged mums with pushchairs, pensioners with dogs and parents dropping their kids off at rugby all within the first 1km. This other footpath traffic forced us, and a good deal of the other runners, into the cycle lane of the road that the footpath bordered – i even saw one brave and/or determined bloke running in the road, weaving through a traffic jam as he made a push for the head of the race. The route wasn’t really up to having 1000s of people charging over it, the water station was another highlight – one poor lass trying to fill up cups one at a time as runners grabbed them out of her hands. The final noteworthy point of the route was at about 9km, and consisted of a single-person-width footbridge which, as we approached it, was being crossed by a grumpy old man who, on seeing runners approaching, effectively stopped moving and caused Bex to do an impressive skid/slide across the bridge and almost into the back of him.

We finally crossed the finish line in more or less one piece in about 48 minutes, unfortunately the queue to hand back chips/get tshirts etc was so long that it stretched back over the finish line so people finishing behind us may not have actually crossed the line…

Needless to say it wasn’t quite worth the 200 mile trip down from Leeds!