In a week where some members of society appear to want to try a destroy it, it was great to be involved in organising a feel good event.
As part of a global challenge set by MarathonTalk podcasters Martin Yelling and Tom Williams where participants from around the world ran and recorded their fastest mile, the event brought together runners of all abilities from across Hampshire.
Having heard of the challenge and having seen a couple of other parkruns organising their own events, I decided to see whether there’d be any interest if we (Eastleigh parkrun) hosted an event via our Facebook page. Within a matter of seconds, interest was being expressed. With that, I set about organising the event.
The first decision was where to hold the Magic Mile. A couple of parkrunners quite rightly identified that Lakeside wasn’t a good location for such an event so I approached the University of Southampton to see if we could use our winter course location, Wide Lane Sports Field in Eastleigh. It wasn’t long before they said yes and over the course of a couple of days, we agreed a date and time. Monday 8th August at 6:45pm.
Next it was a case of deciding the course. Although one lap of the fields is almost exactly one mile, super-volunteer Gareth Jones suggested some alternatives. Our favourite was a 2-lap course of the east-field. This was flatter and therefore faster and meant that spectators could more easily see runners on the whole course.
Before we could hold the event, we wanted to make sure the course distance was accurate. Having
invested in a surveyor’s wheel, Gareth and I met at Wide Lane one lunchtime to fine-tune the course and measure it. Having suffered torrential rain, the field was waterlogged and awash with puddles. The forecast didn’t look good for the weekend before the event and I certainly had my concerns about how dry the field would be for the event.
The last couple of things to organise were the volunteers and how to generate results. Gareth had suggested holding 3 separate races each targeting a different expected finish time. To get a rough split of runners, I checked recent parkrun results and decided on sub-7, sub-10 and 10+. Splitting the event into 3 separate races also meant the event would be longer, there’d be a likelihood of more competitive spirit amongst competitors and the event would be more interesting for spectators. An additional benefit would be that participants could both run and volunteer.
As always, the race directors at Eastleigh were very willing to help ensure the smooth running of the event. Many thanks to Neil, Dave, Henry and Berni!
The next issue was how to record results and publish them. Being part of the parkrun phenomena, we have access to timers, barcode scanners, etc so the obvious choice was to use these and request that participants brought their parkrun barcode with them. We could basically operate the event in the same way we do each Saturday morning with a few slight changes to speed up the transition times between races. A quick email to parkrun founder, Paul Sinton-Hewitt, his positive response and we had the tech sorted.
We were all set!
One of the biggest unknowns was how many participants would attend. It could be a handful or a hundred. Having been fortunate enough to get the event mentioned in the MarathonTalk podcast, a pretty good turnout seemed most likely.
As it turned out, we had 51 runners! This appears to be the highest turnout for any UK organised Magic Mile event to date (Bushy who have the biggest parkrun had 24 runners at their Magic Mile event, WADAC had 46). That makes me feel pretty proud!
The race report for the event can be viewed at the Eastleigh parkrun news page so I won’t go into all the detail of what happened at the event. In summary, it was fun and fantastic. Lots of encouragement from runners and supporters and a real feel-good moment for the last race when several runners ran around to support the only real runners in the event.
The event itself was a triumph. However, that wasn’t the only one of the evening. I had my own personal one too. Over recent months, my running has tailed off quite a lot. This has been in part due to injury and also due to doing more cycling. Due to this, I’ve lost some fitness and have struggled to run 10K or run fast. Due to that, I really wasn’t expecting a great mile performance. Based on my 5K PB, I was hoping for about 7:03. However, based on recent runs, I was thinking anything better than 8 minutes would be ok.
I ran in the 2nd race. I was lucky enough to have Denise and the boys for encouragement at the event. At the start, I went off a little too fast and had to rein it back for the 2nd lap to complete the race. I was in 4th for the first lap but lost some ground as I slowed to a more reasonable pace. My Garmin was showing a 7 minute mile was possible. Being head-honcho at Eastleigh parkrun means quite a few of the other runners knew who I was and it was great to get the encouragement as I ran around on both laps.
As I headed towards the line, I revved up a gear and tried for my usual sprint finish. It worked and I finished in 6:56! Really pleased with that. I knew I’d given it my all and needed to sit down and recover! Connor ran to greet me at the finish line and was soon followed by Daniel. Good boys!
I don’t think the evening could have gone a lot better. Denise said she was proud of me organising the event b(oth before and during) and for my own personal Magic Mile.
Home to process the results and await feedback from those that attended. The latter was overwhelmingly positive.
It truly was a Magic Mile!
Thanks again to all that made it happen!