It's been a while since I've run a 10K as I've been focusing more on the half marathon this year. But when a friend of mine suggested Old Deer Park I thought it would be a nice "fun run" do to after the half in Bexhill. Plus it looked like it would be a flat course in a beautiful setting.
For most races in or near London parking can be an issue. Luckily there is a car park just across from the Old Deer Park, and on Sunday it's free until 1100. We arrived about 45 minutes before the race and had no problems finding a space.
The registration tent and race start were just a 5 minute walk away in the park. I had to pick up my timing chip and while the queues felt a little chaotic, it only took a few minutes. There were about 20 or so port-a-loos near the start--more than enough for the size of the race with minimal waiting times.
After several mild and sunny days in London it was a cold, very foggy morning with little visibility. I tried to stay warm as I waited for the start at 9:15.
|Runners trying to stay warm near the registration tent|
About 10 minutes before the start we were called over to the nearby field for a quick warm up. A few arm swings, jumps and other random moves later, we took a quick jog around to the start line. Then before I knew it, we were off!
The race route was basically one large looped course, with an out-and-back section along the canal at the very end. After running through grass the first few minutes we were soon on the main road that goes around Kew Gardens. There were no road closures for this race meaning we had to all squeeze together on the pavement, simultaneously looking out for other runners, cars, bicycles and pedestrians! Things got better once we hit the canal, but the paths stayed relatively narrow throughout the race. While it was a mostly flat course, some of the pavements were quite bumpy and the trails slightly slippery in the cold weather.
Because there were no roads or pathways closed for the race, there were few markers along the course. Just some occasional signs and marshals. It made the race feel a little bit like the biggest club run I've ever done....where you just follow everyone else because someone at the front knows where they are going!
There was only 1 water station quite far along into the race around the 7km mark.
The last part of the race along the canal was a little frustrating because you pass the turn towards the finish line making you think that you are nearly there, but in reality you have about 3k left until the end! Once I did make that turn though, it was a very short dash to the finish line.
Things were a little busy at the finish but at least there was plenty of room to cross the line, and volunteers there to help take off your timing chip. There were plenty of post-race snacks--bananas, fruit bars, juice--and a race medal to mark the occasion. Although a nice gesture for the 10K, the medal was quite generic so for me, unnecessary.
The race had a nice buzz about it without being too big. A flat course but PBs hampered by narrow pavements and pathways throughout, making it difficult to pass other runners safely. Worth thinking about for the location--easy access by car or train, and nice views throughout the race.
Stats in 2011:
Date: 20 November
Entry Fee: £17 (non-affiliated)
Number of runners: 990
Medals for every finisher