25 May 2011

Archive - LHR Runway Run

I arrived at the Heathrow Academy at 8.30, to register. We were given a Marie Curie vest, a high-vis bib, number and pins to pin to the vist, and a temprary ID card in an arm band strap. There were also energy drinks and water, and snacks. Unfortunately there was no room for spectators, or even a waiting are at the Academy for them, so I had come alone. There were a couple of rooms in use as changing rooms, which were locked whilst out - we had to leave everything there, nothing could be taken onto the runway. We had a safety briefing, basically saying what we had to do, and if there was an alarm we'd have to clear the runway in 15 mins, and to not leave any rubbish anywhere. We then headed to the busses. There were only 150 people doing the run, so 3 busses took us to the central area, and through security. The bus pulled into an area between 2 barriers, where we all had to get off and go through the security checks - walk-through-xray, and pat down, shoes on the conveyor, before heading to the bus. We pulled onto the apron by the Singapore A380, and watched its pushback and taxi away. We were waiting for the other busses to clear the security. Then, when they both pulled alongside, we had to wait for the taxiways to become clear.

We were there for 1/2 hour or so, before heading for the holding area. There was an area of the apron cordoned off, with plenty of security vehicles, a portaloo, and tables of drinks and energy snacks. Most people (myself included) used the facilities, and warmed up with stretching exercises. Then one of the "Follow Me" trucks moved, and we all moved onto the runway.

There was an inflatable arch with Start / Finish on it, and a big clock timer. All the way along the runway there were floodlights lit by generators on the centre line, and we were told to stick to the left side. Some photos, and we were off. After a while, there was a squelching sound - shoes on the rubber deposits left on the runway surface from landing tyres. People were starting to thin out by now, so I drifted to the edge of the runway to avoid the rubber. There were marshalls at various points, and marshalls and medics on bicycles going up and down. At the T5 end, there was a fire engine, and a barrier accross the runway, where the end line was, and marshalls directing us around a bollard, marking the end. Then it was back down the full length, to the east end. Passing the start / finish point again, the marshalls there were very encouraging, cheering us on. On to the end, another fire engine, and headed back up - over 1/2 way now. On passing the start / finish point again, there was a marshall with the illuminated batons directing us around the arch - the quickest runners had already finished! Back up to T5 and around, and down the to end. I made it! The photographer was taking pictures, and the big timer clock had (I saw) 1 hour, 03 minutes, and 15 seconds And I didn't have to walk at all.

People were cheering at each finisher, and photographed (we were not allowed any cameras or anything onto the site - the official photographer will send out pictures afterwards - I hope!). In warming down, I too cheered the next few arrivals, then walked back to the holding area, where we were given foil blankets, water and more energy bars. I got onto the bus, which was the 2nd to leave, so I must have finished midway in the field - not bad for someone who had never run that far ever before! Eventually the bus left, and headed back to the academy, where we were given a "goody bag" including a medal, and some food and drink.

Here is the race route (it was up and down in circles, rather than a zig zag, but I did it this way for clarity):

Then it was time to leave, and head home. I'd certainly do it again, next year maybe, but then I'd take a room at the Renaissance (and my wife could watch out of the window!) If / when I hear about the next one, I'll let people know on here who may be interested.

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