After three years the Amba City of London Mile is becoming one hell of a popular little race. And rightly so. A completely free event that takes place right outside St Paul’s; with water, marshalling, bag check, chip timing and a pretty sweet medal all included. It’s no wonder that the 2016 event saw over 2,800 people heading into the city to take part on the day.
And what a day it was. Despite the warnings that it was going to be grey and cloudy, the weather couldn’t have been nicer. The sun bathed the city for the duration of the morning, with crowds stood by the side of the road dressed like holiday-makers as they cheered the on runners.
The mile has, over recent years, been seeing a fair bit of attention from the running community. Various events have been popping up around the country focussing on the distance. To a non-runner it sounds relatively easy, “What? You ran only a mile? But you run marathons,” said a friend to us later in the day over a coffee. But distance is all relative to the effort. If you run a mile to the best of your ability you’re going to feel it. Trust us. We’d rather run a 10k any day of the week.
A mile is a hell of a long way if you’re pushing yourself. A distance that’s ridiculously hard to pace. In a 10k or a half marathon you can modify your effort as you go. If you’re too fast, slow down a bit, if you’re two slow you can speed up and make up some time. In a 100-metre sprint you don’t have any time to; you just give it all you’ve got. A mile sits somewhere in the middle. A weird combination of the body’s energy systems that makes it feel like it’s about to give up.
For spectators a mass participation mile is a phenomenal thing to see. Unlike a longer distance where you the same group of go through the various stages of the distance, a series of individual miles means you see loads of starts and loads of finishes. It’s an intense juxtaposition to the most races you’re likely to take part in. Each wave existing as its own mini event, with different winners and a particular feel due to make-up the individual athletes taking part it.
With groups setting off every ten minutes from the start line there’s a consistent energy from the crowd. A constant flow of friends and family dipping in and out as wave after wave crosses the finish line. The commentators mirror it, excitedly watching the finish line as people sprint to the end.
So yeah, we’re pretty big fans of the event. Everything from the organisation, the route, the medals, the staff and the crowd marks it out to be an exceptional part of the London race calendar. They even have a family mile where adults and children can take part together. For newbies it’s the perfect entrance into the world of running, for your average runner it’s a great chance to try out the pain of a shorter distance, and for your veterans, well, judging by some of the fastest times (04:03), it’s a chance to really pick up some competitive speed.
For more information on this year’s event, including the results, head on over to the website here.