This is another post taken from my old blog, but the importance of what I observed that day still stands, so here it is again!
So as some of you might know, I took part in the Bupa Manchester 10k on Sunday thanksto my amazing friend Jo for pushing me to do it. I started training just 4 weeks ago for it and on my first run alone I managed 1.9km and felt like I was going to die. I wanted to pack it in there and then but due to the fact that some people had already sponsored me I had to keep going. Without them, I genuinely think I would have given up. Before I knew it race day arrived and I was unsure what to expect. Seeing as I filled in my application form before I’d ran for the first time, I declared that my time would be 1 and a half hours – 2 hours, separating me into a different band to my friends. Obviously as I started training it became apparent that it wasn’t going to take me that long, but the rules are that you aren’t allowed to move up a band- only down. So on race day I thought it would be a clever idea to just try and sneak my way into the band above with my friends. By the time I realised that this wouldn’t work I had made my way to the very front of the slower band group and was now what appeared to be part of the elite runners of this band. I felt like an idiot and not only was I completely alone trying to stay calm and warm up without looking like a total loser, but I was surrounded by pro- runners discussing that they were aiming to complete the course in well under an hour. The camera was pointed right in my face displaying my beautiful now sunburnt moon head and I was trying to warm up, yet stay cool on the one day we had summer in 2013. It’s fair to say it wasn’t a great start.
So the timer was going down and the gun went off, and I started leading the group of thousands of people behind me, being the elite pro runner that I am on my first 10k. ‘All the small things’ by blink 182 was blaring in my ears and I felt like I could conquer the world. Shortly after, I passed my Mum and Dad hysterically waving and screaming my name whilst my sister stood with her hand over her face dying of embarrassment. I was tired a lot quicker than usual and I really REALLY needed to slow down and walk for a bit but I couldn’t stop. Although I wasn’t leading the group anymore (about a hundred people had quickly ran past me) I felt like I couldn’t stop and walk as there were hundreds of people shouting, screaming, clapping and spurring us on. I genuinely feel that although I was so proud of my time (1 hour and 6 minutes) I have each and every one of those supporters to thank for it. I don’t want to appear really over the top and cheesy, but I don’t think there will ever be enough words to explain how amazing it was to see people in their thousands along every single part of the route cheering us on. Having never done anything like that before, I expected that there might be people at the start and finish cheering us on but we’d be left on our own throughout the full course. I could not have been more wrong. There were people literally every single point along the way cheering us on. There were children squirting their water bottles at the runners (which in the heat that it was on Sunday was an absolute blessing), there were people reading everyone’s names from their race bibs and screaming it to spur us on, and then of course there were the bands along the way who were absolutely incredible at keeping moral high!
The whole event, from start to finish, was so well organised that I felt immensely proud that I was able to be a part of it. The ‘bands on the run’ were absolutely incredible and appeared to be thoroughly enjoying themselves. What an amazing idea it is to have them at different points along the way, along with the hundreds of volunteers there to throw bottles of water to us, ensuring that we did not have to stop to get them. There were emergency tents at several points along the way, along with people throwing jelly babies to us close to the end to keep our energy levels up. At the end there were people collecting our timing chips to recycle as well as giving us our finisher packs and congratulating us. I can’t imagine how many volunteers it must have taken to clean up the vast amount of empty water/ powerade bottles on the floor but it was overwhelming to see thousands and thousands of people coming together to be a part of this event and supporting us along every step of the way. There will be people behind the scenes who’ve contributed also and they shouldn’t be forgotten either.
Not only were the supporters and volunteers incredible, but my fellow runners were also amazing. There was a couple of things that really touched me and I wanted to share them with those who weren’t part of the run.
The first thing that really touched me was when I saw a woman run past two young women running together dressed with full head scarves and they had no water. We were at about 6k and the heat was sweltering so goodness knows how they must have felt with the head scarves on, but this woman ran alongside them, passed them her water and ran on. Just like that. You could see the look on their faces that they were so overwhelmed by her kindness that I got choked just watching it! It was so selfless of that woman and yet it was obvious how much it touched those two women. Shortly after, I’d slowed down to a walk and was seriously hot and aching when this woman comes and jogs along side me checking I’m OK. I felt ashamed because she was so beautiful and visibly fit and not sweating at all despite the fact that I must have looked horrific. She asked me if I wanted any water, and when I told her I was fine she informed me that we were almost at the end and I’d done well so far and needed to keep going! It was just so kind of her to take the time to stop and check I was OK and support me before continuing herself. Finally, as we were getting very close to the end, our route became parallel with an earlier part of the course and we saw a woman with a zimmer frame gradually making her way around the course. Every single person I was running with began clapping her to support her and it was so lovely to be a part of it, having received copious amounts of support the whole way around and then being able to give it back to somebody who needed it too. I just hope that people still stayed around the finish line and supported her when she was finishing as such support is so valuable when doing an event like this.
So I’m going to stop now as I am working on trying to get my blog posts shorter- but I just wanted to express my sincere gratitude to every single person who came to support us all on Sunday- and all those people that attend events like that just to support the runners. I can’t speak highly enough of it and how much it helped us all through. I was overwhelmed by the kindness of these people- but also by the kindness of everybody that sponsored me to do it! It was so lovely to receive donations from people that I haven’t seen for a while/ am not so close to/ anonymous people as well as my friends and family and it was such a boosting experience to be a part of such kindness. The world has such negativity in it at the moment and sometimes we (including myself) forget that the power of kindness is so great that it can overrule all of these negative things. I am aware how cheesy that sounds but I don’t care as I have needed to get it off my chest since Sunday.