Owning the Night

Last year Nike’s We Own The Night 10k was one of my favourite events ever.  Unfortunately, as with all good things, this year didn’t quite match 2013 but I still had a wicked night with some booze, some dancing, some pampering and some running!

The organisers had clearly taken on board feedback from last year and changed the Victoria Park course to make it wider as well as introducing guest wrist bands to allow supporters into the race village.

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The weather wasn’t on our side and Gemma and I arrived at Bethnal Green to heavy but sporadic showers – quite a difference to lazing around on beanbags in the sunshine last year!  We quickly put our names down for a manicure in the Elle tent (we could only get a post race appointment even though we were there early) but there was no free copies of the mag.

New this year was a hair section where you could sit and use some dry shampoo or styling products – we took some flower clips for our hair!

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We went to explore the other areas of the race village, where we got a back massage, before heading to the bar for a quick pint of cider before the run….well, I was under instructions to take it easy after a lot of racing so I thought what the hell?!

We did get a few peculiar looks from other runners…

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The start area was much better this year with 6 different zones rather than 3 – no one was checking the wristbands though so you could have gone anywhere really (Gemma had lost hers and had no problems getting to the front).  They had a separate VIP line at the very front so there was no starting with Paula this time but we scooted our way forwards!

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The route was 2 laps – the first 5k was fine after some people dodging in the first few minutes and there was plenty of music and bands on the way round including 2 party tunnels with flashing lights and music.  Run Dem Crew were there in force and, in the absence of a Chaser crowd, they are definitely the next best thing!

Run Dem Crew sharing the love and the party tunnels

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The second lap didn’t run quite so smoothly.  As soon as I passed the 5k marker the course became very congested.  They had obviously decided to set the groups off in waves with gaps inbetween which makes sense…unless it’s not a 2 lap course!

The second half of the race was hard work with a lot of weaving & diving and running on the grass to get through.  I’m sure it was just as annoying to have people continuously brush past you as it was for those on the second lap. Definite area of improvement.

At about 8k I had most definitely decided drinking a pint of cider before running was a very bad idea, I felt a bit queasy…  The finish line came around and there was a big sign saying ‘the party starts here!’  We were given a goody bag and there was a table of Vita Coconut water so I stocked up on a few boxes.  I saw Gemma (who was delighted with her PB – cider made her run faster!) and we made our way out to collect our Alex Monroe finishers necklace – a nice touch for a women’s only race.

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We went back to the Elle tent to have our manicure (Nails Inc, teal, very nice!) and spent the rest of the evening dancing in a festival atmosphere where Nick Grimshaw was the DJ.  Disappointingly, they issued a token in the goody bag for a glass of prosecco this year, rather than an unlimited supply, so we made sure we went back to the pub for last orders before panicking we had missed the last tube home!

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I’m not really sure about what I think of women’s only events, I prefer running in mixed races (where I can pick the men off one by one as I run past them…) but Nike do a good job with this one and, with the guest passes, it was definitely more inclusive this year even if I did have to compromise on the prosecco!

Good job Nike – maybe change the course to a single lap next year though?

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The Night Paula Radcliffe Ate My Dust – We Own The Night

Nike’s women’s only night time race, We Own The Night, was one of the best races I’ve ever run and most definitely the best 10k I’ve ever run. I cannot fault the organisation, enthusiasm, location, value for money, sponsor freebies, entertainment or facilities. Respect Nike, I’ll be back.

Turning up at Victoria Park at 6pm we immediately felt a festival atmosphere. Tents were set up around the park with various things going and there was stage complete with Kiss FM DJs knocking out some tunes.  The place was buzzing.

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They were handing out wristbands for different start zones but this was a bit odd as no one seemed to know what finish times the zones represented.  Blue was for ‘professional athletes’ or people who ‘thought they might win’, orange was for people wanting a PB and pink for those who wanted to get round.  Obviously I’m not a professional athlete so so I took an orange band.  However, this bothered me, there were at least 3 people each with big bags of blue bands, seriously, how many professional athletes are you expecting? I stood there pondering for several minutes over which start zone I should go for, why did no one know what the expected finish times were? At this point I thought Zoe might get a bit cross with me. She didn’t, she simply told me to put the orange band in my pocket, go and get a blue band and then I could decide at my leisure. Fair point. I did just that.
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We went into the Elle tent where we were offered a free mag, coconut water and bags of various dried fruit.  Then someone asked if we would like a free Nails Inc manicure? Ermm, yes, yes please! We put our names down and went off to explore the rest of the ‘race village’. There was a caravan offering tea & crumpets, a delightful little meringue stall selling all sorts of different flavour meringues, including gin & tonic, cookies, coffee, more coconut water and a large tent selling Nike gear (obviously!) We took a seat on the large comfy bean bags and waited for our manicures. I went for a bright orange colour (because I needed to make sure my nails matched my race t-shirt), & we found out Paula Radcliffe had been in not long before us getting her nails done too, Paula was here!

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We headed to the bag drop off, participated in a little warm up and then it was race time! I stuck with the blue band but I was more than a little concerned that I had only seen one other person with a blue band and she was the rather fit looking girl being interviewed…in all fairness she looked like she could win it. Uh oh.
I have since found out the fit looking girl was Perri Shakes-Drayton!!  She didn’t run, she started the race but my quick evaluation of her was correct!

They asked people with the blue bands to wait behind and I was relieved there were at least 25-30 of us. We were then directed to a different area and I found myself walking to the very front of the race, on the start line, where you usually find the elites, how exciting! Whilst waiting there I spotted Paula and I was even more excited, I didn’t know she was going to run and, not only that, but I was literally on the start line with her, amazing!!

I have actually beaten Paula in a race before.  OK, it was the Battersea 5k Race for Life and she was doing it with her grandma, but she crossed the finish line after me, I beat her, and that’s fact!
In all seriousness, it was an honour & a privilege to line up next to Paula Radcliffe on the start line, when does that ever happen?! I mean, there was me, and there was the female marathon world record holder that no one has even come close to beating in over a decade. What a women, what an inspiration.

The countdown hit zero and we were off, I was expecting Paula to zoom straight off so was surprised to find myself immediately running around her. That was weird, I guess she wasn’t racing after all, laters Paula!

All in all I ran a good race, it was fantastic to have a clear start, there was great support from both marshalls & spectators and it was a beautiful evening in East London.  Special mention to Run Dem Crew who were owning their own night somewhere around 4 & 9k cheering everyone on. I felt the love, I high fived you, you were awesome and thank you!

I usually cross the finish line desperately looking for water and being made to wait,  today water was in my hands in seconds, followed by 2 bottles of coconut water then a glass of prosecco. Yeah, the water can wait, I want the bubbles! It was like walking into a party where the waiters greet you with glasses of champagne on a tray, except I wasn’t looking so glam, and the glasses were plastic. Fabulous, fabulous, fabulous!

I finished in 47.06, not a PB but a good effort so close to the marathon, I was pleased.
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I got my bag back and found out Paula wasn’t planning on going the distance due to injury, so I had beat her, again!  In the last month I have raced Mo Farah and Paula Radcliffe and beaten them both!

I found myself a comfy bean bag to kick back & relax on with my bubbles while I waited for Zoe. I had no idea what time the race had actually started in the end so I wasn’t sure when to expect her. She showed up pretty quickly with smiles and we sort out more prosecco which went down oh so very well.  Shall we get some more?  Yeah let’s do that!  I was drunk after 4 glasses so it was only wise to knock back 2 more.  Hey, give us a break we had just run 10k, it was Saturday and we owned the night!

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People seemed a bit confused as to why I was spending my Saturday night running…running?  Well, you know what,  I spent my Saturday night with one of my best mates, doing the thing I love the most, with a manicure thrown in, beating Paula Radcliffe and finishing off by knocking back several free prosecco’s. Yep, that was one of the best Saturdays nights in a long time.  Winner!

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Freebies!!

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