Yesterday I was lucky enough to take part in the Endurance Life Real Relay. The Real Relay was set up by the Endurance Life team at the end of May, after they witnessed the Olympic Torch pass through their town and realised that although billed as a relay, the torch was actually being transported in a van each night to its next location. In their own words, “The Endurancelife Real Relay is an exciting attempt to follow the entire route of the official Olympic Torch around the British Isles in one continuous non-stop journey, running every step of the way. Starting out from Land’s End at midnight on Monday 28 May, ten days behind the official Olympic Torch, the Real Relay will involve hundreds of runners from across the British Isles running through the day and night on an 8000 mile mission to reach London in time for the Olympic Games opening ceremony”. In fact the Real Relay arrived at the Olympic Stadium yesterday, 5 days before the official Olympic Torch.
The Serpentine Running Club had secured the leg from Mortlake to Battersea Park, along the Thames Path, for yesterday morning. My boyfriend Kris is a Serpie runner and they were encouraging as many runners as possible to join in so I was lucky enough to run with the group. All runners in the relay are asked to donate a minimum of ten pounds to CHICKS – a charity which organises free week long holidays to disadvantaged children. Other than that, you just needed to turn up in running kit and be ready to run.
The baton, complete with tracking device and British Flag arrived on time at 10am to much cheering. James Edgar, who had organised the Serpies, set us off in waves from 9 min/mile, 8.30 min/mile and so on; the idea being that the baton started with the fastest group at the back and made its way to each runner along the route. I picked the 8.30 min/mile wave but as soon as we set off I realised the pace was going to be a bit quicker. One runner said we were clocking 7.30 min/miles at one point…apparently the Serpies are known for this! The combination of heat, a pretty bad hangover from two nights drinking and tired legs from a long training run earlier in the week made the 9 miles seem quite hard. Still it was a great laugh and I got to run with the torch just as we approached Chelsea Bridge. Up until that point I was sort of wondering why I had forced myself to run that morning but once I was running with it, the realisation that it had been carried by hundreds of runners continuously around the UK hit me. It felt great to be part of it.
We arrived quite early at Battersea Park (thanks to the over zealous pace!), so once everyone was at the western gate we did a lap of park before arriving at the Pagoda to much fanfare from the Endurance Life team and runners from the next stage. After a few groups photos on the steps of the Pagoda, the next group set off along the Thames path towards Tower Bridge. Endurance Life have done a great job of pulling together runners from all over the country, encouraging a real Olympic Spirit and in the process raising over ten thousand pounds for charity – an amazing achievement by them and everyone involved.