I recently went on a sponsored walk for the JP Morgan Chase Challenge in aid of the charity Age UK. The course was 5.6 kilometres or roughly 3.5 miles, and I had signed myself up for the race well ahead of time as I knew that I would be able to do it. Having travelled quite a bit, I am used to walking through unknown towns and cities and just seeing where each corner takes me. As this was my first race, I decided that I would join up to my local gym and get BUFF. I did no such thing. I went a few times, and enjoyed it when I went but I should have reminded myself that I am horrifically lazy and have just been paying for the membership for a couple of months now. Hopefully, I will use it again soon! I had not thought much about the race in terms of preparation as I knew that it would be doable. But I did have to remind myself that even though I have walked further before, it was never all in one go, I would have stops in a restaurant, museum or wherever caught my eye. This was going to be the whole trek done as quickly as possible. As I was doing the race through work, I had the lovely company of my manager who said she would walk the route with me.
There were two days that the JPMCC was held, and we went on 9th July to Battersea Park on what was an absolutely gorgeous day. Could not have asked for better weather, and this definitely made the course a lot more fun. In order to get to the park, we had to walk from work to nearby Waterloo Station, and get the train to Queenstown Road which was the nearest station from our departure point.
The station was packed full of staff members from different companies who were buzzing withexcitement to complete the run as quickly as possible and get on with the eating and drinking! Managing to squeeze onto a train and getting a seat, we were only a few short stops for our destination. Getting down the [many, many] stairs and towards to be park took a while as everyone was going in the same direction. I commented that it looked like we were off to war, but as the weather was so nice, perhaps we looked more like we were heading to a funfair.
Making the pilgrimage from station to the baggage drop added another 1km to what I had already walked previously. But being surrounded by the different company shirts and bibs, I was ready to rumble and generally take over the world. At the pace of 1 mile per hour, of course, not trying to get reckless now!
Joining the quickly moving queue for the baggage drop, I made sure to keep my phone, drink and lip balm with me, SPF 15 thank you very much! After that was all done and out of the way, there was a bit of waiting before we could go to our colour section and get racing. Each number badge was colour coded so that differently abled runners could keep up their groups, or at least I think that’s why it was colour coded. I could be very wrong. Either way, I was wearing a yellow number badge and I had estimated that I could finish the race in the record breaking time of 2 hours! Or 120 minutes.
As my manager and I made our way to where we would actually be racing, it started hitting me that I would be about to walk my very first proper race. And my preparation for this race? Eating pizza the night before, and having way too many pastries on the day of the event. But hey, you have got to carbo-load! Or at least that’s what I told myself as I went over my “less than wise” eating choices.
We had to wait a while as the different coloured groups were starting their races. We were able to take in the clear blue skies and how the sunshine beamed off the nearby portaloos. The yellow group was signalled to start and off we went. Little bit by little bit we were being lapped by those that had joined the queue after us, and runners that were late to the race.
As we made our way to the start line, I was noticed by the commentators, specifically Matt Dawson of Question of Sport on the BBC. Being the absolute ham that I am, I milked the moment and got a shout out for my company. Unfortunately, by the time we would actually finish, he was long gone.
I am grateful that I had someone with me as we were chatting the kilometres away and just catching up. The first kilometre was a breeze and I barely felt it. I started feeling the second kilometre but I was distracted by how absolutely stunning Battersea Park was! This was certainly aided by the superb weather conditions and the company.
Walking towards the third kilometre, I started realising how long we had actually been walking as we’d started to run out of things to say. So in true Jay fashion, I just started to waffle along. From the start of the race, there were volunteers dotted along the race course and they were the best cheerleaders a gal could ask for. The support and kind words definitely helped as we were reaching the fourth kilometre.
I was very aware of my legs and hands. As I had been walking for so long, they started to hurt and turn red. But I was determined to complete the course. As I had been drinking my energy drink, we made a quick pit-stop of the ladies! Goodness knows I wasn’t about to use a portaloo.
Back on the course, I started noticing that along our path there had been signage up to let runners know when the route was narrowing or when the surface changed. I thought that this was overkill is the route was not narrow enough to not fit two little women. Until I managed to actually think about it and realise that it would have been for the people that had been running in large groups and couldn’t see much further than the person in front of them! As opposed to me and my manager who were at this point taking a leisurely stroll through a nice park on a lovely day.
We had reached and passed the fifth kilometre, it was just us left on the course. Literally everyone else had finished ages ago and were eating and drinking the night away. The only people left on the field with us were people playing rugby and little girls doing cartwheels over and over again. Throughout the race, we had contemplated just cutting through some parts of the course and “magically” finishing quite quickly. We decided to stay truthful and do the race properly, especially since we were not sure if there were different markers that you had to pass through. Also there were cameras literally everywhere, didn’t want to be labelled as cheaters!
As we were getting closer to the finish line, we were speaking with a woman on the bike who turned out to be the race manager and radioed to the people at the finish line that there were still two people to complete the race. She biked with us for a bit, probably as she thought we could use the encouragement having walked for so long. We were reaching the final few yards when the people at the finish line were cheering us on and generally making a show. I was equal parts mortified and revelling in the attention.
Making it over the finish line, I was awarded with a round of applause and a finishers t-shirt. We started the impossibly long walk back to the baggage area, and more importantly, food! Luckily for us, there happened to be a gentleman in a long golf cart vehicle and he generously gave us a lift to our destination. Especially as I felt like I had earned it!
With bags collected, we headed to the food stand to get our much needed food. While munching and enjoying the music, we reflect on our epic journey. From a clear light day, to nearly night time by the time we were finished and heading back to the station. Unfortunately for me, once I had finished the overground rail portion of the journey, it was a long bus ride back home due to the bus strike.
I am very happy and proud of myself that I finished the course before the event organisers finished packing everything up! I had put myself down to finish the course in 2 hours, but I actually managed to finish it under my original estimate. I received an email with the exact details of my time and pace from the event organisers. Which I am pretty proud of as this included a selfie and loo break!
London Thursday JPMCC 5.6K:
Jay at the Finish in 1:41:15.
Pace 17:59 min/km. Time of Arrival: 20:52:39.
It may very well be my first and last race, but I would never say never! Might see me running the London Marathon one of these years. Just kidding, I would like to not lose my toe nails!