Tuesday, July 4

The JP Morgan Corporate Challenge 2006, London Click for more info

Today was the first JP Morgan Corporate Challenge London Race of 2006 (the second one is being held on Thursday). This is a certified 5.6km annual course that's been held in various cities globally since 1977, and although I've had the opportunity to run it for the past two years I've not really had much inclination to do so till now.

It was my first competitive run since April 2004, so I was quite excited about it. I manage to do around 6-7km each week so I wasn't too concerned about the distance, but there's something about race conditions that makes one push themselves more than they would on a typical Sunday morning. In other words, I was interested to see how I would perform on that Battersea Park course with ten thousand other runners.

I had been warned that the event becomes pretty congested and so to make my way as far forward of the starting crowd as possible to get any kind of competitively accurate time. I didn't quite manage that, but it wasn't that bad anyway - I think I lost around a minute, maybe two, over the whole course due to traffic. Ironically those that had managed to push their way to the front were the ones walking and being obstructive - as early on in the race as the 1km mark. Honestly, some people.

But this wasn't supposed to be a serious race. There were people of all shapes and sizes there, some taking it seriously and some not, but all having fun and intending on hitting the various BBQs and alcoholic drinks waiting for them back in their corporate tents (apart from me that is: I had a match to catch, thanks).

5.6km is a strange distance. I've been pacing myself at 5km for the past few weeks and felt a slight wall at that point during the race. The remaining 600m wasn't that big a deal, but it's interesting how accurate a measuring device the human body can be (a bit like those ants, innit?). It was also pretty damn hot, but on the day this didn't seem to bother many (except for that one guy I saw unconscious on the floor around the 4km mark. Eep.).

And the results? Well my target before the race was to break 30 minutes, so I was pretty happy with the 28:25 I clocked up (unofficially - surprisingly there were no timing chips this year). I managed to gun the last 200m or so which implies that my pacing was off, but I'm putting that down to traffic more than anything else. For those who are interested (that'll be just me then), my time equates to 5km in 25:22, 1km in 5:04 and 8:10 per mile, which is pretty much bang on in line with my marathon pace. What that means is that, in theory, I should have received a better time than I did (the shorter distance allowing me to run a faster pace). Perhaps under more ideal conditions I would have done.

I enjoyed the race anyway. It was even enough to convince me to try for something more ambitious - perhaps not quite another marathon, but possibly something half that distance. Maybe.