Every year our office enters a team into the JP Morgan challenge – a 5.6k race around Battersea Park to raise money for Water Aid. over 29,000 people ran the distance over two evenings this week, and eight intrepid runners from our office joined in.
The people in my office aren’t softies. In one month, a big group did Tough Mudder, and then two weeks later another group (including many of the same people) did the Three Peaks Challenge for charity. So…. yeah. No one needs to drink a cup of cement where I work.
Until the JP Morgan challenge that is. In the lead up to the race, the banter flows as freely as cheap Sauvignon Blanc on a Friday night. People compare fitness tips, and talk times. At least, that’s what I imagine based on last year. This year I wasn’t in the office in the lead up (maybe thankfully!). Easily the most exciting element about the whole event is the sartorial: what colour t-shirts should we get to stand out in the crowd? And what will the free t-shirts at the end look like?
For a race that’s barely over 3 miles, an awful lot of bananas, pasta and bread were eaten on the day. When we got there, we put more effort in stretching and warming up than we’d put into the run, and felt more nervous about this than we would a 10 mile run. What is it about this event that made us feel like we kids about to jump off the tall diving board?
Well I’ll tell you: pride. Yep. You put a load of sales people (and one HR person) together, and competition is what you’ll get, irrespective of the task. Running 5.6k? Gonna get a great time. Fancy dress in the office? All costumes will be outstanding. Karaoke on a Friday night? Just you try to wrestle that microphone from the clutches of someone else. It’s definitely all in good fun, but times are noted, analysed and filed away, and you don’t want to be the one who talks the talk but can’t run the run.
So. How did we do? Swimmingly!! We jumped off that diving board and plunged head first, chucking in a couple of somersaults on the way. Everyone got under 30 minutes, which was soooo good considering that not everyone loves running so much that they want to write a blog about it, unlike some other people. The fastest time was 24.20, and I came third at 25:32, taking a minute off my time last year (which was 26:24).
The route itself is very picturesque, taking you through the leafy park, and along the Thames. It’s also tough mentally as there’s a lot of out-and-back, and a nasty false finish. You can see the finish line, you turn the corner and see there’s another 0.6k to run through a field, and you wave goodbye to the end the end as you run into the field. But this year I knew it was coming, and so it wasn’t too bad. The route is quite congested as there are a lot of runners for such a narrow route, but the fact that it’s a corporate event kind of gives it an ‘everyone’s in this together’ feel rather than everyone taking it too seriously and competing for amazing times.
I really, really like this event. It’s friendly and fun, and the distance makes it accessible for lots of people. And then afterwards we de-camped to the pub where, over a glass or more of Rose, I learned the best celebrity spotting techniques from one of my colleagues, who has theatre friends and so is an authority in this regard. London celebs watch out: I’ll be brunching with you in no time.