Animal inspiration

I woke up on Monday morning the proud owner of a sub-50 10k time and it felt good. After the disappointment of just missing out at the Women’s Running event last week, it was great to have finally cracked it.

‘Stampede’ is a 10k race in and around London Zoo, although the Regent’s Park 10k is probably a more accurate description. The start is right inside the zoo and first half to three-quarters of a kilometre is a loop around before you head out into the park for three laps, then the final 150m and finish are inside the zoo.

Despite the promise of rain, the weather was perfect, clear blue sky and a comfortable running temperature. I’d arrived an hour ahead of the event, mostly because I hadn’t expected the traffic to be so quiet, and all went very smoothly.

There were plenty of staff to check you in and guide you to the start and not a single portaloo in sight. Yes, there are plenty of real toilets – and a tiny queue – which felt like a luxury for a race day.

About 10 minutes before the start, we were guided into the time pens, I optimistically slipped into the back of the 45-50 minutes section. The race instructions were read out, my favourite was being told to ‘turn right at the bearded pigs’, then we were off.

Despite only being in the zoo for a short leg of the race, it wasn’t disappointing. I don’t know Regent’s Park so it was a great way to get a feel for the place, and you could see the camels and tigers on the way past the zoo.

As it was three laps, I was worried that by the third lap, you’d be catching up the slower runners and it would all get a bit congested, but it was fine. There were plenty of marshalls around in bright pink, giving lots of encouragement and a water station which you passed three times, which was about right.

After turning into the zoo, I could see the clock ahead of me, it was still on 49 minutes, the adrenaline kicked in and I kicked on, determined to get that sub-50. It just ticked over onto 50 as I ran past the finish line, but I knew my chip time would be under. I’d done it, with an official chip time of 49.48!

I collected my medal and goodie bag and did some cool down stretches in front of some monkeys. Not a bad way to end a race.

Now, how am I going to beat that?

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