One event I always look forward to organising each year is the Magic Mile. These are fun and informal events that are open to runners of all ages and abilities who want to run a mile as fast as they can. The first Magic Mile I organised was way back in 2011. This was the first Eastleigh Magic Mile.
Last year, we held the first mile on the track at Southampton Sports Centre and it had proved really popular particularly as many of the runners had never run on a track. I wanted to repeat the experience and as soon as Marathon Talk announced they were setting up the Magic Mile challenge again, I contacted Active Nation in the hope of securing the track. After a few gentle coaxing emails, they replied and we did a deal on the track fees.
At last, I could announce the date, the 2nd September. Last year, we used parkrun barcodes for registration. However, thanks to the Magic-Mile website (very quickly) I’d produced for the LRR Mile Series, we could use that and therefore clearly distinguish that the Magic Mile had nothing to do with parkrun.
Over the weekend, I spent a few hours preparing for the event. This consisted of:
- charging barcode scanners
- checking position tokens were all there
- producing a list of things to remember (surprisingly long)
- adding the new event and waves to Magic-Mile so that the results could be uploaded at the event
- and numerous other things that would bore even me if I listed them all!
To ensure that I arrived at the event in time, I left home early and hit a fair amount of traffic. However, I arrived at 5:50pm so plenty of time to prepare before the participants and volunteers turned up from 6-6:30pm.
I checked in with the duty manager at the sports centre, paid the agreed amount and headed down to the track where there were already a couple of keen runners! Trevor Ellery arrived shortly after and we set up the laptop outside as the hut we’d been allocated was like a sauna.
I had plenty of time to check the laptop was working and, most importantly, the MiFi dongle which would (hopefully) allow results to be processed between each wave.
As I was expecting some of the Lordshill Road Runner training groups to meet at Tauntons and then join us for the mile, I decided to hold a junior race first. However, at the time it looked like there would be only two in the race (Declan Scarle and Callum Ronnie). Luckily, the Cleeves family arrived in time and therefore a proper race could be held with several competitors!
As 6:30pm arrived, I mounted a high platform to address the assembled runners. It was a great vantage point to get the attention of everyone. So much so that when I stopped talking, no one else did either. The silence was deafening!
Fortunately, it didn’t last too long before we could set the juniors off. We had 4 juniors competing and it was a battle to the finish line for 2nd and 3rd. However, the star of the race (in fact, the star of the whole evening) was Tilly Cleeves who ran amazingly to finish in 10:04. Well done Tilly! The results for the junior wave are available at http://www.magic-mile.co.uk/results.php?eventWaveID=7
Between waves, we had to do several things to prepare for the next wave. These included collecting and collating all the position tokens, downloading the data from the barcode scanners and stopwatches and resetting those. This gave a few minutes between waves for the next to warm up.
The next wave was for the faster runners, those expecting to complete the mile in under 6 minutes. We had 17 participants and some great running. Well done to Paul Ashley for taking first place with Paul Merritt in 2nd and Emyr Morgan in 3rd. The results are available at http://www.magic-mile.co.uk/results.php?eventWaveID=8
The 3rd wave was for those expecting to finish in under 8 minutes and many of the runners in that wave were from Kevin Yates’ training group so they joined in from their session on the football field that overlooked the track. Again there were some great performances with John Grant coming in first, followed by the ever smiling Jeff Scarle who is on top form after coming back from injury. John’s son, Sam Grant, was 3rd finishing in under 6 minutes. The results are available at http://www.magic-mile.co.uk/results.php?eventWaveID=9
We had one final wave with 16 runners. Jeff Scarle decided to run again and lead the field. It was great to see friends Philippa Whaley and Laura Ronnie competing alongside one of Philippa’s friends, Charlotte Yaldren. These ladies are all part of a team I’m going to run Thunder Run with next year (alongside Laura’s husband, Aaron). Everyone made a massive effort and there was a photo finish between Laura and Philippa who both crossed the line in 7:08. Charlotte was unsure what time she’d finish in and had attempted a mile a few days before in a little over 9:30. However, the adrenaline and race conditions meant that she completely smashed this to finish in a 7:22! What a PB improvement!! The results are available at http://www.magic-mile.co.uk/results.php?eventWaveID=10
Once all the waves were complete, it was time to pack up. All the results had been uploaded (and all participants should have received an email with their result) after each wave to the magic-mile website and it was time to head off to the LRR 10 Mile Race Committee meeting. A hectic evening but a great one.
There were quite a few people buzzing from their experience on the track and this was evident from lots of positive posts about the event and personal performances from many that attended. I love these events and especially love organising them. It’s almost second nature and I’d hold them regularly if there was the interest, not just because they’re great events in themselves but due to the positive vibe they give to all that participate.
Many thanks to Ben Pitman for a great set of photos of the event which are available at http://www.flickr.com/photos/69154870@N05/sets/72157635355887356/
Well done all!! Many thanks to all the volunteers including Trevor Ellery, Rob Benham, Lou Gower, Dan Campion, Helen Scarle and several others.