Rainforest 10K report, 1/11/09

The Rainforest 10K was chosen as our main event for World Vegan Day and with Vanessa in her new role as Press Secretary we had high hopes of good coverage for veganism and the club. With the experience behind her, Vanessa contacted the national press and the Vegan Society who were leading the media coverage. After last year’s turnout of 8 members, the most members of clubs present, a similar number would have been good publicity.

Leading up to the event, the weather was going to put a dampener on proceedings with heavy rain and strong winds forecast. Prior to the Rainforest event which was scheduled for 11.15am, there was the monthly Regent’s Park 10K at 9am where we were represented by Laurence Klein, a fortnight after his record marathon time at Abingdon.

I arrived in London in time to visit the Regent’s 10K which was within a convenient walking distance from Euston. At that time there was only intermittent drizzle but within 10 minutes of the start, heavy rain suddenly descended with runners huddled in the ‘Hub’ changing area waiting until the last moment before moving off to the start. It made no difference, they were going to get wet as they lined up on a path. I soon picked out Laurence and was quite surprised by the larger than expected field, over 400 finishers in the results.

Runners were glad of other runners around them to provide shelter from the headwind and the heavy driving rain. It was obviously going to be a slow start before they turned left on the first of a multi-lap course. Walking back across the park towards Euston, the trail of runners was not far away on my right and we were converging. I had to cross over the course at the far eastern side and as I arrived runners were still passing with the benefit of the wind and did not have to wait long to see Laurence again. As I left the park to head for Finsbury Park, the rain eased to the relief of the runners but not the wind.

Arriving at Finsbury station at 9.45, earlier than anticipated, there was already some flooding on the road as I approached the Park. Needed to arrive early to meet our runners and the press but given the weather conditions, they had reason to give it a miss. Few runners were around apart from the event volunteers and small businesses hoping for some trade. With little in the way of dry areas for changing it was near impossible not to be affected by the conditions. The meet-up area between marquees gradually became more like a cross country course.

To my surprise as I stood under the registration marquee still getting wet, our runners and supporters found me including a photographer that Vanessa had arranged. We delayed getting changed but the photographer was very patient. As the pre-arranged warm-up exercises routine began, we got together for the photos seen earlier. There were possibly other vegan runners who did not find us but we were now very much in the public eye. Lining up were James Millington, Chris Dhondee, Vanessa Hudson & myself with Andrew Knight & Chloe Vincent in support, Chloe having experienced a non-running injury in the past week and was unfit to run.

As we crossed the line close together, Chloe took pictures (available later) around the circular course in both directions. Despite the weather, the rain having eased, we soon warmed up and the recently fallen leaves were still relatively dry and not yet a cause for concern just what may be underneath them. The course is undulating with the main hill towards the end of the first of four circuits (two in each direction) where we do a u-turn and repeat the course in the opposition direction. The number of runners was well down on last year so there was only a small number of runners ahead. Last year I thought my time of 44:20 was very slow for me, two weeks after a marathon so was expecting to do much better this time although it was windy. Again I seemed to struggle on the hills and into the wind but there was great support from Chloe and Andrew. On the last long straight into the wind, I passed a runner in a banana suit but on the last 500 metres on grass and into the wind, as I tired, a few runners including the banana costume man caught me in the final 50 metres. I was also disappointed again by the clock time of 44:50.

James, Chris & Vanessa who incidentally started late or last after a toilet visit managed to meet-up at the finish and arranged with Andrew for group photos crossing the line after removing their chips. I had disappeared temporarily to get changed into some drier clothing if possible. The next day when the results were published we discovered there was another vegan on our supporters list who also completed the event. Caitlin Blodans did remarkably well to finish 7th female in 49 minutes (also 2nd vegan) so obviously has some potential.

To continue the meet-up we found a local cafe, not ideal that could accommodate us all. The cafe was certainly not use to catering for vegans but we were relieved to have a roof over our heads and somewhere dry to sit down. For those of us who were still interested in a lunch, three of us (Vanessa, James & myself) continued the social with a visit to the Inspiral Vegetarian Cafe in Camden town. Andrew had some other pre-arranged lunch for 20 or so at a grand restaurant.