London's Winter Run

This time last year MOH and some friends set out on the London Winter Run, running 10k around the capital's streets raising money for Cancer Research UK. A year on and he was back on the streets taking part again, this time without his running buddies due to injuries and one even moving to another country - which is a bit drastic, if you ask me.

So earlyish on Sunday we headed into town to be ready for his start time of 9.38; it was that light drizzly rain which, while it's good to run in, wasn't much fun for supporters. Thankfully because of my lingering cough I was excused from the hardcore supporting and my only job was to hold his bag. And take photos.

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The run started in Trafalgar Square headed off towards Holborn and then towards St Paul's and the City before heading back and ending on Whitehall. We did the obligatory pre-run photos and then set about finding out where we should be.  

Trafalgar Square was filling up and the fountains were proving popular as a stretching aid.  With the warm-ups done and MOH's starting wave called he headed off towards the start line. 

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There was plenty going on in the square so I had a wander and soon found some St Bernards - real and less real.

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And it seems that the London fox - a well known, and not always loved creature - was also taking part.  

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I worked my way to the start line wondering if I'd spot MOH - I didn't. 

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No surprise really, when you see just how many people there were waiting to start. The snowmen were doing their best to entertain the runners, generously dishing out hugs and posing for photos.

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The rain continued, and with MOH's wave started there was only one thing for it. Breakfast - the cafe's close to the start were pretty full but just along The Strand I ducked into Paul. It turned out to be an inspired choice as I had a clear vantage point as the runners returned and headed to the finish. 

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Of course, once again I didn't spot MOH go past and met him as arranged in the pub nearby where he welcomed the espresso, mini croissant and the pint of beer that was waiting for him.  He was rather chuffed with his time too completing the 10k in just 49 minutes - the fastest he'd run for a while. He tells me this is an eight minute mile, which sounds pretty good to me.

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He enjoyed it, liked the course and didn't even mind the rain. It seems his mission now is to encourage me to take part next year - because yes, he's already signed up for next year. He'll have his work cut out though, while I don't mind running - well I don't think I'd mind it if I got past the first few weeks of running, I'm not a fan of organised running so it's very unlikely I'll be running alongside him next year on the day.

I much prefer the job of looking after the bags!

Our Ride London

Our day started early with a 4.30am alarm but although neither of us had slept that well we were up and out of bed pretty sharpish. Our early start was different to those get-to-the-airport-to-catch-a-plane-at-silly-o'clock-mornings as this time there was breakfast that would fuel the ride and of course there weren't any suitcases. But there was a flight, of sorts.

By 5.30am we were pushing our bikes out of the house and heading to the cable car in Greenwich. And we weren't the only ones. As we reached the Royal Standard just around the corner we tagged onto a group of cyclists heading the same way. The roads were quiet and the only traffic was either buses or cars transporting bikes and their riders towards North Greenwich.

It was a beautiful morning and before MOH caught his flight on the cable car and cycled to the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park to prepare for the start I got him to pose for a photo, wished him well and reminded him to take some pictures along the way.

As I cycled back home from my earliest starting cycle ever (a record that's unlikely to be broken tbf) MOH was queuing to deposit his bag and then prepare for his 7.36am start time.  He even remembered to take some pictures!

THE GREEN START ZONE

THE GREEN START ZONE

Back home and recovering from the early start and the early cycle I suddenly realised I'd better get myself shifted if I was to get to The Strand on time to see MOH cycle past.

I made the 7.22am train from Blackheath with two minutes to spare and so arrived in Charing Cross with plenty of time to spare. The RideLondon app - aka the Husband Tracker - was up and working and showing MOH's progress along the route.

There were plenty of cyclists to cheer while I was waiting for him to arrive. Teams, individuals and a few in more unusual cycling outfits!

Then at 8.15am, this happened.

WAVING ON THE STRAND

WAVING ON THE STRAND

With MOH spotted and looking comfortable (well as much as you can on a saddle) I set off for Kingston to see him around the 22 mile mark. I had twenty minutes to wait for the next Kingston train. Armed with a second breakfast - well it was 8.45am by now and I'd been up for ages - I got the train, ate breakfast and continued to track MOH.

Just as the train approached Wimbledon I saw that he'd already passed Kingston station, so there really was little point continuing. But that meant I was in Wimbledon much earlier than I'd planned and in fact I was there before the first cyclist too.  After a wander around, thinking about a third breakfast and thinking better of it, it was still only 9.18am.

The first cyclists arrived in Wimbledon just gone 10am and shortly afterwards I made myself comfy half-way up Wimbledon Hill on the right. If you know Wimbledon, you'll know there's some grass verges well I was there and let me tell you there's not much grass on them right now. I'd brought a sarong to sit on so I was feeling particularly smug and sat down to enjoy the event while MOH took a planned break at Pyrford, at just before 40 miles.

The Husband Tracker was working well and I could see that MOH had reached Newlands Corner, where he had another planned stop in 3 hours 16 minutes. His average speed had slowed to 21.8 kph from 26.5kph at the first timing point, but it was still good and fast enough to complete the course in the allocated time and avoiding the "Broom Van" which would sweep up people that hadn't reached parts of the route by the cut-off time.

The next time I looked he hadn't moved very far at all. And he didn't move very much for a while. Quite a while in fact. 

Then my phone rang and it was MOH to say there'd been a crash and everyone had stopped and was backed up. Sadly as we know now it wasn't caused by a crash but by a fatality, our thoughts are with this rider's family.

AT LEITH HILL

AT LEITH HILL

After an understandably lengthy stop, MOH was underway again. On Wimbledon Hill there wasn't a break in the riders passing by and we think that's because some of the later cyclists were diverted around this part of the course. 

My vantage point was around the 90 mile mark and half-way up the last hill the riders would encounter.  Some just breezed by, others put thier head down and pushed themselves to the top. Just up from me was one of the BHF cheering stations, and they really did work giving their riders a much needed lift, as you can see from the photo!

Some though needed a bit of a helping hand up the last hill, and this lady wasn't the only one. 

 I counted six tandems as I watched the race go by, but didn't manage to catch one on my camera at all!

At around 3.15pm MOH cycled past. With ten miles to go I knew he'd make it as he still looked relatively fresh and was going a good speed.  

ON WIMBLEDON HILL

ON WIMBLEDON HILL

Now to get to the finish and find him, but first an ice cream - it'd been pretty warm work supporting there for the past five hours or so!

Green Park was busy when I arrived around 4.30pm, with people everywhere. I was glad of the advice from the organisers to pre-arrange a meeting place and set out to find the tree labelled with an S. Around 5.30pm MOH wandered by, so it was some time for some post-event photos with his medal. And there was just enough battery life left in my phone to do a final post of Facebook. 

IN GREEN PARK AFTERWARDS

IN GREEN PARK AFTERWARDS

It was great to hear his views on the race and on the course sitting there in Green Park. High points were cycling on car-free roads although it was weird to cycle past work in Docklands so fast; the sun on Westminster Abbey making it look even more stunning as he left London; the view from the top of Box Hill and the pretty village of Abinger Hammer and raising £450 (so far) for Get Kids Going.  Lower points were the hold ups along the route which were frustrating, especially at Leith Hill where it took 9 minutes to walk 400 metres and impacted on his time, running out of phone battery after not turning off wifi (something I suffered from too!) and being fed up of bananas!

And the answer to that all important question - would he do it again, is yes because "it's not a difficult ride."  The ballot opens next Monday, just in time for the pain and soreness to be a rose-tinted memory!

After relaxing a little - using his fleece from earlier as a impromptu cushion to sit on - it wasn't long before we headed for Charing Cross and a train home to a more comfortable seat with plans for some pizza and perhaps a glass or two of red to toast a great day at Ride London.

Oh, and to watch the TV coverage. It seems though that everyone in Greenwich had the same idea to order pizza and ours didn't arrive until 10.20pm, by which time we were more than a little hungry and more than a couple of glasses had been consumed.

Here's to a successful ballot and to next year's event!