I was one of the first to sign up for this year’s Bupa London 10K and at the time (last June) I would have been able to honestly list a predicted finish of about 40 minutes. So it was especially thrilling to find that I was in the absolute last starting wave to be released. Here we are at the start 8 minutes after Mo Farah finished his interview as the winner:
The best thing about starting at the back of a really enormous race is the opportunity to walk. Sorry, necessity to walk…slowly. Things broke up a bit after the first half mile and I was able to jog a little, still dodging the fat and hopeless and those too wrapped up in themselves to yield space for others. The organisers of these things always make the claim that chip timing gives an accurate measure of performance, but by the time I looped back under Blackfriar’s Station (about 7.5 km into the fiasco) I wasn’t really interested in the sad performance likely to be turned in. Besides, I had easily already run 10K by crisscrossing between strolling chatters and several thousand actual runners. I needed a drink.
The London Hash House Harriers were due to start their trail at noon, but knowing how habitually late hashers are I assumed (correctly) that I had time to make the start at the Blackfriars pub about 250 meters off to the north. I u-turned and found a bunch of them outside with the GM announcing that the hare was having to retool the trail due to the day’s festivities courtesy Bupa. Perfect…time for a beer.
It was a themed trail, their 2012th (hence the London 2012 copyright infringement) and also architectural in format with 30 churches built by Christopher Wren (on a map, here) to visit in order on the trail. This was fantastic, taking us through narrow passageways and into formal gardens and past dozens of pubs that look especially inviting (alas, almost all were closed on the holiday and usually closed on weekends as the City tends to be deserted out of business hours). A big fan of Wren’s work as a scientist (in spite of the scurrilous novel I’m working on about him), this was an especially exciting chance to see a bit of the architecture for which he’s more famous to the larger population.
Many of these were bombed and some are but ruins. The ones that survived include a bunch that are only used as public gardens. A german kid in the pack was accused of taking notes and coördinates to send back home for the next war, and when someone at circle asked who Wren was I said, “the guy that burned London,” as another guy across the circle yelled out, “he’s an arsonist!”
The one ugly event that happened on trail was at the drink stop. Someone supplied rum and there were people (I shit you not) POURING COLA INTO IT. What the fuck is wrong with people? My god, this takes me back to the days of the cease-and-desist letter I received from my Senator for demanding a bill in Congress to penalise anyone who cretinously puts sweetened, carbonated beverages into fine liquors by removing their passport…America has enough public relations problems without allowing that sort abroad. I mean, the Brits tend to be a civilised lot and I wouldn’t think they came up with this on their own. Tasty rum, too.