This past weekend my friend Anya and I decided to spend our bank holiday Monday running the BUPA 10k for Save the Children instead of sleeping in, having a BBQ and knocking back a few drinks. While you might doubt our decision-making, the BUPA 10000 turned out to be a great event filled with a fun atmosphere, a beautiful route past London’s great architecture and lots of entertainment for runners and spectators alike.
The BUPA 10000 is one of the largest and most popular running events in London, with approximately 12,000 runners participating this year, as well as a large proportion of entries under charities. The race attracts serious and new/casual runners alike, so you can expect to see everyone from Commonwealth athletes competing to people dressed in onesies (or yours truly in a gladiator outfit). For some the sheer size of the event can be intimidating, especially when it comes to navigating your way around the Runner’s Village. On the other hand, the size of the event means there are LOADS of people throughout the race offering a morale boost and support, which can be integral to new runners and those struggling on the last leg of the race!
A word of warning; if you have any issues with your race application, i.e. lost race tag, incorrect name, etc., make sure you get to the Runner’s Village with plenty of time. The queue for help even an hour before the start was huge, and you don’t want to miss the call for your division because of an administrative error!
As I said before, I raced in the BUPA 10000 for Save the Children, who provided excellent support in the lead-up to and even after the race. Normally non-charity race tickets for BUPA 10000 cost £28, but Save the Children offered a deal where runners could sign up for £1 and then raise £150 for them. As soon as I signed up they sent me a fundraising idea pack and contact details to their fundraising and development team if I required further advice and assistance (for those of you needing fundraising ideas, try taking a look at my thrifty and time-saving ideas here). Both Save the Children and BUPA also provided training schedule advice and regularly contacted me through the post or e-mails with content to help prepare for race day. For those that need encouragement/someone forcing them to stay committed to training, then I would definitely recommend running for a charity. On a side note, while £150 sounds like a large sum of money, divided between co-workers, friends and family, it really dwindles down to a small donation per person!
Central London is a beautiful and ideal city to run in, with a mixture of scenic parks and historic buildings to keep even the shortest attention span occupied, and lots of small bursts of inclines in-between flat stretches of road to make you feel like you are earning your workout, but not too much to feel daunting. Runners start on Pall Mall and continue along the length of the Strand, with the roads closed to all traffic. It’s a rare and excellent opportunity to see London’s iconic landmarks from a new vantage point, particularly with spectators and charities out in full force along the sidelines to cheer runners on. The route then goes through the quieter parts of the City, passing Chancery Lane, St Paul’s Cathedral and Guildhall. Here the spectator crowds dwindle, but the folk at BUPA 10000 anticipated this and provide a slew of musicians to keep runners motivated at every corner. Plus, did I mention around the 6km point there are sprinklers to run through?!
It is the last 2km however is easily the best part of the route, as you run past Downing Street, Big Ben, and finally around St James’s Park and onto the Buckingham Palace roundabout. Here the crowds are four-to-five deep and the atmosphere is very encouraging!
BUPA 10000 staff make sure you don’t dawdle at the finish line, which can make finish line photos difficult to capture. Runners are immediately whisked to the side to have the timing bar removed and soon after you are directed to the goody bag station. What’s in the goody bag I hear you ask? A pretty impressive medal, a HUGE shirt (even an XS was large enough to fit two of me in it), a bottle of water and Lucozade, a biscuit, some hair product samples, flyers to fitness and sporting events, and a travel-sized toothpaste. Pretty standard, although the medal is far better than many other running events.
Runners are then directed into the Runner’s Village, where there’s food and drink booths, as well as activities to keep kids occupied. It can get very crowded and BUPA 10000 staff are strict about people entering and leaving to ensure the place isn’t overcrowded, so it can be tricky to meet up with others afterwards – patience is required! This is where it’s worth running for a charity. Free sports massages and Haribo abounded for Save the Children runners, and as you can tell we were more than a little pleased about this.
Another benefit of the BUPA 10000 taking place in Central London? You’re close to numerous brunch options and drinking holes, and Anya and I wasted no time loading up on all-you-can-eat sushi at Flesh and Buns, and toasting to the day’s success.
The verdict? With its scenic course and great support network for new and seasoned runners, the BUPA 10000 is an ideal running event for the summer.