What a fantastic way to end the year – with the friendliest ever social run, passing some of London’s iconic sites and being so well looked after by Kieran Alger, Gareth Beavis and their friends.
We heard about this event from some runners who we met after the Valencia marathon at the beginning of December (thank you Rachel and Dave), and although timing was tight (see later) we decided that it would make a really good end to the year.
The “Big End of Year Run” started in 2013 as the completion of a personal challenge by Kieran to run a half marathon every day in December, and he asked Gareth along for company. They enjoyed it so much that they decided to repeat it the following year and invited a few more people to join them. Each year since it has grown. This year there were approximately 200 runners (Kieran’s website manvmiles.co.uk has more details.)
It is important to say that this is not a race – there is no fee, no bag drop, no medal, no fixed distance or official timing – just runners out enjoying their last run of the year, and the company of other runners, in the streets and parks of London, everyone putting competition aside (for the day at least).
One of the best things about the run was that I was reminded what a fantastic city London is – and this is coming from someone who less than 24 hours before was regretting having to leave Cape Town in all its summer glory. I actually got changed into my running kit at Gatwick airport after a 12 hour flight and went straight to Marble Arch and I was so happy I did.
The starting point for those wanting to run a half marathon (approximately) was Marble Arch – literally under the arch – and the route headed north through Regent’s Park to the top of Primrose Hill, where we stopped for a photoshoot. We returned south, taking in the Regent’s Canal. Back on Hyde Park at Lancaster Gate, we picked up the 10K runners, and after a lap of the park and Kensington Gardens we headed across Green Park to Buckingham Palace and the Changing of the Guards. The route then continued along St James Park, where we picked up the 5k runners, and passed the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben to cross the river over Westminster Bridge. We ran along the south bank, taking in the London Eye and the Tate Modern, and re-crossed the Thames at the Millennium Bridge, with magnificent views of the City skyline including St Paul’s Cathedral. After a final section along the river we finished at Embankment Gardens with much celebration and a final photoshoot.
The pace was leisurely with frequent stops to allow runners to catch up and there were route guides throughout the pack. It was so well done. Never has a run passed more quickly – due of course to the good company along the way. We will definitely be spreading the word and getting others to join us next year.
Naturally there were then a few glasses of Champagne to celebrate the ending of the our running year and to welcome in the new. And for us it has been a brilliant year of running – highlights included trips to Spain, France, Germany, Seattle, Utah, Toronto and of course South Africa for Comrades. PB’s at all distances for Cam and age category wins for me. We had lots of fun pacing and most importantly meeting up with friends old and new.
Next year is shaping up to be possibly even more exciting starting with Arizona in February. We’ve really enjoyed sharing our adventures with you in these recent months and would like to take this opportunity to thank you all for your support; we hope you have enjoyed reading our posts and maybe even found some of them useful. We wish you a very happy, healthy and successful New Year.