Tuesday, July 10, 2018

JP Morgan Run: The American Brexit (4th of July) Edition

"Well this is unexpected..."

This is my thought as it started to rain on my bike ride to Battersea Park. Don't get me wrong, I welcomed it mostly. I don't remember the last time London saw rain. It's been scorchio for weeks now... yes I am talking about London, England. My biggest concern was more me wearing a white t-shirt and getting drenched.

All my coworkers were wearing the same, so I supposed we would all be awkwardly British together.

The JPMorgan run had ~30,000 runners this year over two days. That only 5,000 less people than the entirety of West Somerset. So, needless to say, it was crowded. In remembering my loo-mageddon from last year as soon as I dropped my bag off  I headed towards the port-a-loos. Oh of course I choose the line with the loos that are not flushing, so I have to move to a different queue. Classic. This entire time we are being chided by the organizers to get to our starting pens and THE RACE IS STARTING IN TEN MINUTES. No one moved, so neither did I.

I started the trek to my pen, the white pen. More lines, more waiting... I felt like we were being led out of the park. Then we stopped finally and waited for 6:45pm-- we heard the shot of the starting gun and we all started to get ready for our turn to go....

We went at 7:15. 7:15. I could have had a luxurious sit on the loo instead of a fast and furious scramble. I understand they said they were staggering start times this year, but a whole 30 minutes?! People were ending by the time I was starting!

However, starting to make my way around the course I can see why they staggered the start times how they did. It was chock FULL of people. All over the place. I cant imagine what it would had been like had we only had 5 minutes between pens (I found out later they staggered people within pens too adding to the time). It basically would have been shuffling rather than running.

Still the marshalls had their hands full, people with headphones on or blatantly not listening when being asked to stay off the pavement. Seriously people, headphone use is a privilege not a right, use it wisely else they will pull their use completely.

I have a love hate relationship with the last 600m of the course. The JPM run is not 5km. No no. Its 5.6km. To account for this, they have this terrible loop where you see the finish line and if you are not paying attention, think all you have to do is round the corner and you are there. That my friend, is a mistake. So many people start their sprint 500m too early-- only to understand their mistake too late and they are depleted. Then I trudge along past them with the veteran knowledge of the loop and knowing there are a few more turns before I turn on the burners.

Given the sheer amount of people, this event is incredibly well organised. It's a bit manic and the loo situation never really seems to get any better, but as long as you know then its doable. However, they have water (although I heard reports of them running out of water?) and the food is decent enough. Plus TWO t-shirts! Not bad for a free event.

My only comment to the race directors would be to tell walkers to stay to the left or right (one or the other or heck even both). This way there is a clear lane for everyone else jogging/running/hopping along. Tell them early and tell them often, this way there is no confusion. I heard walkers being exasperated by runners and runners being exasperated by walkers. I get it. It's frustrating to both sides.