Running Miles: socially distanced races since before Covid

⬆️ Sounds like an exaggeration, but it is true.

I just had the pleasure of running “Don’t Stop Me (Running) Now” marathon by Running Miles. Technically, it was a 6 hours challenge but only a real nutter would run more than a marathon!

So back to my statement above. I have previously done a few events by Running Miles and let me tell you – the pre-Corona ones felt very much the same as the Covid-compliant race today. Why?

  • Limited entries

Running Miles have always taken pride in organising small and friendly events (West London, Buckinghamshire, Berkshire). I believe the entries are limited to 50 participants. So it is very easy to remain socially distant. A huge ✅ for Covid compliance.

Fairly quiet for a marathon finish area
  • 6 hours challenge

Every event accomodates runners doing anything from a few miles to an ultra, which means they will all run at different paces and finish at different times thorough the day. So there are no crowds gathering at the finish line.

  • Laps

All events consist of multiple laps of the same course. That essentially allows you to leave your belongings and refreshments in the pit stop area near the finish/start and refresh yourself as you go instead of fighting for a cup of water at a crowded water station. Having said that, if you run out of refreshments (or crave coke after mile 17), the organisers are always happy to provide you with drinks top ups and snacks.

So yeah, I am not lying when I say that Running Miles have always been Covid-compliant! There were a few minor differences compared to pre-Covid events:

  • No pre-race briefing. Instructions were sent in an email before the race.
  • Staggered starts – start whenever you want approach. Loved it.
  • Handsanitisers and wipes in the start/finish area.
  • Changing facilities were shut, but the toilets were open so one could change in the (clean!) toilet if necessary.
  • Finishers ordered their post-race treats (goody bag) from a “menu” instead of grabbing countless (uhm 6) chocolate bars from a goody table. I can live with that.

What has not changed in the slightest was the great support and friendly atmosphere that I have not experienced at any other race. The organisers were lovely as usual and even remembered my past PB. It was awesome to see familiar faces of some running legends while meeting new future running legends. Thanks Running Miles!

Oh, and I’d almost forgot – I ran a massive marathon PB of 3:55:50 (25 minutes off my previous PB this January). Finally a race that went well for me (Running Miles magic perhaps?). Happy!!!

NoblePro MK 5K: a socially distanced race review

I will do my utmost to avoid moaning about my terrible time (I mean I had a great time but the time I ran 5K in was terrible), and will cut straight to the chase.

My second socially distanced race! Some major differences compared to F3 Dorney 10K three weeks ago (one key difference was that the route was actually measured accurately!).

So how was it?

  • Staggered starts

Staggered starts is a Covid-times must, however, there are different ways of doing it. While F3 chose the “start whenever you want within your time window” approach. Milton Keynes Athletics Club opted for waves instead of windows. Based on your predicted time you were assigned a wave with a precise start time. There was max 12 runners of similar abilities in each wave. A wave started every 5 minutes. This system essentially meant that you were taking part in a mini-race against runners in your wave. What I really liked was that each wave was led by a cyclist “clearing” the path. No risk of getting lost (which is my biggest race fear alongside pooping my pants).

  • Toilets

Speaking of pooping, there were no dedicated race toilets. We were instructed to use the park’s public toilets….that were closed when I arrived. Luckily I found a decent bush instead.

  • No bag drop

Just like F3, MC AC did not provide bag drop facilities, so if you didn’t arrive by car you were doomed. Alternatively, your spectator could serve as your personal bag keeper.

  • Spectators

That’s right! Spectators allowed! One per person. Also, since the event was in a public park, there were bystanders clapping and cheering which is something a lot of runners missed during lockdown virtual “races”.

  • The course

As I just mentioned, the course was located in a public park on a fairly wide path with tarmac surface. It wasn’t totally flat but there were no killer hills either. The finish line was a few hundred meters away from the start which definitely helped spread people around and maintain social distancing.

  • No medals

Yes, that made me cry a little as I’m a sucker for a good medal. Instead, the organisers threw a box of random NoblePro tops near the finish line and people just helped themselves. Gotta love a freebie!

  • Overall feeling

The event had a bit of an elite feeling to it. Real fast runners galore! I was one of the slowest participants, yet generally (despite my constant complaining) I am considered to be fairly fast(ish). The amount of 14 and 15 mins 5K’s that were run on the day was enormous. One crazy dude did 13:50. That’s a kilometer in 2 mins 46 seconds, times five. Doesn’t he need a driving licence to operate his legs? 🤔

Compared to F3 at Dorney that was completely shut to public, MK 5K was way more fun. And the results go on PO10. What more could a runner ask for? Well…I could ask for a PB, but perhaps next time…