Virgin Sport London 10k

The British 10k has become a bit of an institution in the running calendar. Sure, the London Marathon is far more iconic; a once in a lifetime event that most runners are desperate to check off their list. But to be completely honest, it’s a hell of a lot of work, and we’re not just talking about the running itself. Getting into the thing is an almost mission in itself. Yeah, you can get in through the charity route, but that’s one hell of a weighty task to take on. And not everyone wants to, or even can do, a marathon.

The British 10k offers a much more accessible chance to run through London’s closed roads. Which really is an amazing experience if you haven’t done it before. One that only happens a handful of times throughout the year. Sure, the crowds aren’t quite as big as they are at the marathon, but they’re big enough to make it an impressively cheered event.

The race has changed hands over the past few years, with 2017 marking the first time Virgin Sport has taken on the management. We’ve done it seven times now, and seen how its developed over that time. They’ve done a damn good job as well. After the success of the Hackney event earlier in the year, it seems that the team have a really good understanding of what runners want from an event. It’s well organised, the set-up is pretty sweet and the various bits and pieces included in the £50 price tag are spot on. The medal is rather tasty, the T-shirt is actually the kind of thing you’d want to wear, you get a nice tote bag full of treats and they even include the race photos (seriously, if you’ve ever ran a race where you then have to pay £30 for a set of hazy digital images, you’ll know what we mean).

But anyway, what about the race itself? Well, the route is pretty much the same as previous years. Which is fine, it’s a damn nice course, running past some impressive London sights. You get to go up Regent Street, past Trafalgar Square, down the Embankment and over Westminster Bridge. It’s exactly what you’d want from a race in the capital. The field is pretty big for a 10k, we’re not exactly sure how many, but probably around 8,000 taking part. Not surprising really for such a large-scale event. The only downside is that there’s a hell of a lot of waiting around in pens at the start if you don’t enter one of the earlier waves.

Actually, while we’re talking about start waves, one of the things you find with larger events is a set of formal starting areas for different speed groups. It’s kind of necessary for safety and to keep everything descending into madness. There is however a tendency for slower people to start in early waves. We’re not sure why, maybe it’s a misunderstanding of how long it takes to run a race, or the simple fact that by starting earlier you’ll finish earlier. Either way, it’s annoying. We started in a later wave and passed loads of people either walking or moving slowly, there were even people ahead of us that just suddenly stopped right in front of us. If you’re reading this and planning on doing a race, pick your start wave carefully. it makes a massive difference to the faster runners, trust us.

Anyway, enough from us moaning. Back to the race. As with all mass participation events, unless you start right at the front, you’re probably not going to end up with a PB. But races like this aren’t really about that. If you’re in it for speed then there’s far better events to take part in. Smaller ones in parks are our favourite. And to be honest, after you move through the first chunk of people, the roads were pretty nicely spread out for runners.

The weather was hot, to the point where we were covered in sweat by the end (again, not a day for PBs), so the various water stations and water spray points were like an oasis in the desert. The upside is that when you’re finished you get to go and sit outside a cafe or pub and really enjoy the rest of your Sunday, luckily with the clean T-shirt you get in your bag.

So yeah, we loved it. A pretty much spot on event that was managed better than we’d seen it done before. We weren’t lucky enough to be able to make the Hackney race, but we can’t wait to see how the Virgin Sport team take on their next event in Oxford later in the year (we’ve done it before it was Virgin Sport and it was a really nice event).

For more information on the event, and to register for next year’s race. Head over to the website here.

Picture Credits: Virgin Sport

Featured kit: The Iffley Road Cambrian Stripe Raceday Blue White Night Sky T-shirt (£68)