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London calling: Bupa 10k race review


The Bupa London 10,000 is organised by the same team behind the London Marathon so offers all the same elements of a mass participation race as its famous long distance predecessor. This means everyone from Olympians to beginners can take part and there are designated race entries for club runners and charities.

When is it? 
The race is usually held on the spring bank holiday at the end of May.

The Course
The flat route with a few twists and turns passes many of London’s major landmarks with the final three miles on a similar path to the London Marathon. The race starts on The Mall and passes under Admiralty Arch then along the Embankment towards the City, crossing in front of the Bank of England before passing through Leadenhall Market and then looping back at 5k towards Westminster. Participants drop back onto the Embankment again running under Blackfriars Bridge towards the Houses of Parliament, passing the London Eye on the opposite side of the river. At Big Ben, the course turns right towards Birdcage Walk then right again in front of St James Park to pass Horse Guards Parade and then bears left for the final 400m on The Mall.

Amy at the start with Steph Twell and Claire Hallissey

The Facilities
A race village is set up at Green Park where drinks are available, baggage can be securely stored (but only in the plastic drawstring bags provided by organisers) and post-race massage is in offer. The majority of portable toilets can be found in Green Park with an additional few along The Mall but there were long queues to use these before the start – I had to wait 20 minutes. As the start is surrounded by Royal Parks, any trying to sneak off to go in the bushes is strictly forbidden!

What's good about it?
As the race takes place in May you can usually count on it being a pleasant, sunny day as it was this year. Cheering crowds and bands line the entire route creating an energising atmosphere and making it easy for friends and family to come along and watch. The route is flat and interesting and you can rub shoulders with elite athletes like Mo Farah – who has won the race for the last five years.

The race is suitable for all abilities

What's bad about it?
As this is a mass participation race with thousands taking part, the course is highly congested for anyone but the front runners. Participants are lined up in designated pens and set off in waves at the start to attempt to ease this congestion. However, the pens did not seem to have been tightly organised by predicted finishing time – meaning sub 45 minute runners could find themselves starting behind sub 60 minute runners and thus spending the entire race getting held up and struggling for space to overtake. My predicted time on entering was 39 minutes and I was placed in the ‘B’ wave. Due to the sheer numbers, it took me nearly a minute to cross the line and I then had to begin at my marathon pace as it was too congested to run any faster. Trying to weave round people made for frustrating running and no chance of a pb with slightly more space to run in only becoming available in the last 2k.

What do you get for finishing?
A medal and a cotton T-shirt, refreshingly available not just in one size to (supposedly) fit all, but in XS to XL. A bumper goody bag containing: a bottle of water, a bottle of Lucozade, toothpaste, joint gel, a Halls sweet, a small bag of dried fruit, a small bag of pistachio nuts and Bevita biscuits.

Finishers receive a T-shirt, medal and goodie bag

How do you enter?
Online at www.london10000.co.uk, entries open in the winter, first come, first served, and close when it’s sold out. Charities are given places people can apply for in return for raising sponsorship money. Running clubs who have competed in the Southern or National Road Relays in the past two years can apply for free places for men’s and women’s teams while faster athletes who can prove they have run sub 32 minutes (men) and sub 38 minutes (women) in a 10k race in the last two years can apply for elite entry.

In a nutshell: If you are a club runner looking for PB, this race isn’t for you unless you can obtain an elite place so you start at the front of the field and avoid the congestion problems. But for anyone looking for a run with a fabulous carnival atmosphere and the chance to experience what it’s like to run the London Marathon with 20 less painful miles, you should definitely give this run a go.

Race reviewed: Monday, 27 May 2013 by Lucy Waterlow, finishing time 40.44