Barefoot Rick's BUPA Great Capital 10K Run - Hyde Park London UK - July 20, 2008

In the words of my British barefoot running counterpart, Yanni Papastavrou, "... it was a beautiful day to run barefoot!" The temps were perfect for our 10K outing -- high 50s F!  We had been planning this get-together for several months and now the day had finally arrived. Earlier this year, Yanni had directed me toward several races on the internet that would be close and convenient during my family's stay in London. We both picked the BUPA 10K Run in Hyde Park since we were staying only two blocks from the park. Like I mentioned before, we could not have asked for better weather!

Yanni arrived at our apartment/flat around 9 a.m. He was kind enough to accept delivery of my packet in the mail so we donned our racing chips and bibs and headed down to the park. We had no problems walking through Hyde Park as traffic was halted for the 10:30 a.m. start. Once we arrived at the start area, we hung out, sitting and chatting on the green, waiting for the race start. At approximately 10:30, we went to line up at the starting line. Somehow, we both were assigned the first wave start so we were right up by the elite runners (with 12,000 participants, it was a HUGE race with several waves). We chatted with a few folks in our corral about running barefoot and the race folks snapped a few pictures of our feet. A young lady questioned how fast I was going to run and I said probably around 45 minutes. I felt that was a good goal without killing myself out there.

Finally, we were off at 10:30. Yanni took off immediately and I did not see him again. I must say, the runners and the spectators seemed a bit more subdued than the American races I have ran, so I needed to do something to remedy the less enthusiastic mood. I immediately started singing and having fun with the spectators, high-fiving kids along the way and yelling encouragement to the runners. Some of these Brits obviously thought that I was a deranged, barefoot running Yank, but many started having fun around me. The course double-backed in several places so I was able to see some of the same spectators a couple to three times. By the second or third time, they were cheering on the "barefoot runner". At one point, I stopped briefly to dance a jig with a drummer band. They were getting into it as I was also.

The last half mile or 800 meters or so was along the south side of the park. The crowds were thick with several thousand persons in that area and I did a lot of hand slapping along the final stretch. As I crossed the finish line, I heard the announcer talking about the barefoot runner and saying ... "My God, he has no shoes!" I crossed the finish line close to my 45 minute goal at 45:23. I was pleased. Yanni had an excellent day also finishing in 43:02. So, the UK (Yanni) bested the US (me) in the first ever UK Barefoot Running Carnival. I was happy to defer the honor to him to be able to partake in such a great event.

After the race, Yanni and I walked back to the flat and he showered and changed. He had a wedding to attend and needed to leave directly. It was great to finally meet Yanni after conversing with him for several years on email and discussion boards. He is a true English gentleman and the perfect companion for my first international barefoot running event.

Factoids:

Distance - 10K (6.2 Miles)
Time - 45:23
Pace - 7:19
First international running event

 

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