The taxi is going way over the speed limit down the motorway and I’m getting changed in the back seat, just your standard race morning.
I don’t tend to write up every race nowadays as I know you’d probably get a bit bored of the same old story but the Richmond Runfest 10K was no ordinary race.
I had my journey all planned out; train at 6am so I’d be in London by 7ish with plenty of time to get to the race start at 8:30. My plan unraveled almost immediately. At the first station stop, the train announcer bellows out; “we are stuck at a red signal but don’t worry we will be moving in 10 minutes”. I shifted uncomfortably in my seat as anxiety began to radiate through my body. I had been offered a free spot for this race by the lovely organisers, because of that there would be no calling it quits and heading home. Ten minutes was fine though, I would still be there with time to spare.
Then as we rolled in to the next station, which wasn’t a scheduled stop, on comes the booming voice of doom over the tannoy; “we are sorry to announce that there is a complete signaling failure between here and London, we are going to have to reverse the train and travel a different way into London. This will more than likely add an hour on to your journey time”.
My brain had only swear words as solutions.
I composed myself, got off the train at the completely empty station and called a local taxi company. I wasn’t giving up.
When the taxi pulled up I had 45 minutes to travel what Google Maps said would take 56 minutes. If I was late the gates to the race may be closed (due to it being a paid tourist site) and I wouldn’t be able to race. I laid all that out to the taxi driver, who luckily not only loved a challenge but also drove a particularly quick car. Regardless I knew that it was going to be a close one.
When we got onto the motorway I had to bring up the slightly awkward subject; I still needed to get changed into my running gear. He laughed awkwardly, joking that I was hosting some twisted prank show, titled the rearview mirror up and let me wriggle out of my jeans and into my lycra in relative privacy.
This taxi is going way over the speed limit down the motorway and I’m getting changed in the back seat, just a standard race morning I thought to myself.
We pulled up to the still opened gates, with only a few minutes to spare, and with a short sprint to the race start I was off! With Moscow Marathon only a week away I knew today would not be a hunt for a personal best so I settled into a steady, easy pace. With my mind not on my pace I focused on the stunning settings. The race is set in the grounds of Kew, a vast botanical garden in southwest London that boasts to be the largest and most diverse botanical collection in the world. An oasis of calm in the sea of noise. It is the most beautiful road race I’ve ever done in England.
The route crisscrossed through the gardens offering snapshots of beautiful vistas, vast glass houses and huge sculptures which helped effortlessly pass the time. Before I knew it I was at the 9km mark and my legs screamed for a sprint finish. I obeyed and kicked on but with the tight turns that the route had I ended up hurting my achilles on the final turn as the terrain changed from pathway to soft ground. Still, I finished two minutes slower than my PB which I was pleased with considering I wasn’t aiming for a fast run.
I honestly loved the race and will definitely be back next year, probably running the 10K followed by the half or full the following day because I’m a glutton for punishment!
Now my focus is solely on healing up my achilles and preparing for marathon number 15 on Sunday…
NEXT RACE: Moscow Marathon