“A Madhouse” might have been a suitable title for the blog entry I published two weeks ago, considering the start of a certain bicyle race drew roughly 230,000 folks to the city centre. That day certainly seemed like it would take the title for the craziest 2014 summer morning in Leeds.
While I expected a huge crowd and crazied atmosphere that day (in large part because much of the French sporting media came to Leeds), today brought out a suprisingly huge circus to the city centre: The Leeds 10km Race.
Running events seem quite popular in this country, and there are three big ones in Leeds: the Abbey Dash, the Half Marathon and the one today. As evidenced by all of the places in the Half Marathon filling up a month beforehand (when I tried to enter), there certainly seems to be a demand on the part of runners/weekend warriors. However, I totally did not expect about 30-45 minutes before the start to be pratically walking/running through people to get to the baggage trunk.
Supposedly, there were up to 10,000 participants in today’s race and they were divided into green and red groups – the former including the faster runners and having bib numbers with a green strip. I was a part of the green group and we were starting on New Briggate (a street in Leeds). However, the baggage van for our shit was on Great George Street, which is right next to Millenium Square and a maybe a 7-8 minute walk from my starting line. Discombobulated little me ran straight to New Briggate before realizing the place I should have gone to first was Great George Street. But then, I asked myself… “Where’s Great George Street?” I actually had to ask someone where it is although I’ve been on it several times 😦
Anyway, while trying to reach the proper baggage van, I spent several minutes walking around in circles. The police/organizers placed gates around the sidewalks near Millenium Square, pretty blocking all access to the street prior to the street. Thus, I more or less had to run over people going in the opposite direction to try to get to the baggage van.
At the starting line, we were treated to the customary parade of speeches and introduction of dignitairies. Actually, someone mentioned that an actor who had appearing in the Harry Potter films was participating in the fun. I thought that some kind of prank but… yes, Matthew Lewis put on his running shoes. Unfortunately, because I haven’t seen most of the Harry Potter films, I had no clue who he is.
As for the course, it is pretty similar to one for the Abbey Dash as most of the race takes place on Kirkstall Road. There seemed to be more spectators lining the course of today’s race than there were for the Abbey Dash. While it was great to hear some folks shouting my name, the coolest sounds I heard during the race were those coming from a pair of djembe players. They actually sounded like the steel pan drummers I heard while watching Brazil World Cup matches at the Faversham.
I finished 12th with an official time of 35:05 (and a chip time of 35:02). A bit slower than my Abbey Dash time but that wasn’t surprising considering how hot it was today. I felt quite exhausted after crossing the finish time. But for our hard work, all the finishers were rewarded with a can of… Red Bull. My second free can of Red Bull in two days (At the ParkRun yesterday – which I did not do – there were two ladies handing out cans of Red Bull). I’m not sure if I’d make a habit of Red Bull but it certainly is drinkable. Actually, the Red Bull wasn’t event the most delicious drink handed out to all the finishers.
Volunteers handed out a white goodie bag – containing a finisher’s medal, a candy bar, and some advertisements – to all finishers. Pretty much the standard junk. Except they also included a bottle of protein shake. Smart decision, considering all the calories we burned and how hot it was. That protein shake was so delicious 🙂
After the race, Millenium Square was a sea of gold shirt-clad runners as each finisher received such a present in the goodie bag. It was really cool to see Millenium Square awash in gold – except that does the world really need to know “I Made a Big Impression”?