We came, we ran and we conquered 10km together. After all the hype, training classes and excitement, the day had finally arrived when over 3,ooo women ran two laps of Victoria Park. It had been billed as an evening that fused fashion and fun with music, style tips and, of course, a 10km run. I was super-excited and sure the other women were too, (read my blog post about the build-up to We Own the Night) but did the race live up to my expectations? Here are my thoughts about Elle and Nike’s We Own The Night women’s-only race.
We all know that a Nike event will never be a two-bit operation. Nike go all about to ensure their customers get a fully-rounded experience. The NTC Supercharge Week was just one example of Nike’s innovative way of showcasing their (awesome) new app. They had free Nike Training morning Classes for the early birds and event such as spinning in the luxurious Equinox Gym and a run in neon tutus around London. I know I wasn’t the only one who enjoyed this fitness extravaganza (see Naturally,Leah and Life.Laura.London for a synopsis of the week’s events).
When it came to the run, there was a six-week training plan put together by Nike and followed by the Elle Team, Monday night training and a specific learn to run-type class on a Wednesday. Nike did a fab job of getting the girls running. We even had the chance to run with Ellie Goulding. The best thing for me about this event though was the chance to get together with like-minded women. I joined Team, Naturally and am so glad that I did as it was really fun meeting up with the “Boutique Sport gang” every week (I’m going to get withdrawal symptoms soon!). So imagine my disappointment to be given a brown paper bag, when I ran down to Nike store on the Tuesday that the goody bags were being handed out. Ok, I’m exaggerating – it was really not a big deal – but it was a bit like seeing a plate of chocolate hobnobs to dunk in your tea and being offered a rich tea instead. They did remedy the situation and I’m now the proud owner of a Henry Holland tote bag.
My second gripe (I hope I don’t come across as too moany here) was the fact that they announced on the Monday pre-event that if you attended the Nike Running club, you’d receive a free place for a friend. Great, so I was pretty much one of the first to sign up (number 35 – keen bean I know), paid quite a lot for it (£28) and had attended classes. Now my friend, who may not be busy on a Saturday night, can get a complementary place. I’m all for sharing the running love and wished after that I’d picked up a code for Boutique Sport’s Rachel but couldn’t think of anyone at the time but it kind of devalued all the hard work that we’d put in.
Despite these two hitches, I really enjoyed all my classes with NTC, the training runs, the class organised by Leah with Gil and the company of fit and fabulous women. A huge thank you to Gemma of @GoodtoTone, whose pre-race talk really helped me focus on my game plan.
The day of the race
In my experience, sleep can make or break a race. Thankfully, I woke up on Saturday feeling raring to go. And go we did; visiting the Sydney Lee and George Bellows exhibitions at the Royal Academy. This means that I didn’t exactly have a big breakfast as advised by Gil (slap on the wrist), nor was I keeping myself hydrated all day long but I did have everything laid out for the race in the evening, including my bright orange t-shirt.
It can be difficult knowing what to eat when you’re running an evening race and breakfast. Since we didn’t leave the house until midday, I made a rule that we had to eat before 2pm, so we stopped off at Itsu for a 7-Veg Pot with broth, followed by a frozen yoghurt for me. Not exactly the food of athletes but it was tasty enough. In hindsight, I may have been slightly lacking in the fuel department but, hey, I’m used to training first thing in the morning pre-brekkie.
We Own the Night venue
The venue of We Own the Night, Victoria Park, is a great choice of location. With no undulating hills or cambers, it’s a pretty flat ride so you can really pick up the pace. Unfortunately, I only kind of glanced at the Nike event village on paper before heading there for 7pm. And from the baggage queue, it looked like everyone was having a great time. This was after I had met up with Leah and the crew outside the entrance and dropped my pretty sorry-looking boyfriend off outside the village because he wasn’t allowed to come in with me. But don’t worry, the boyf is pretty used to it by now as it’s pretty standard city marathon practice to have participant-only areas. Only this wasn’t just an area with portaloos and baggage drops as per usual but a full-on village of girl power, burger vans (I think) and DJs on stage.
It was on entry that I could apparently choose between a blue (for PB chasers), orange (those who wanted to run comfortably) or pink (those who wanted to finish wristband. I asked for a blue and was told: “Oh the blue wristbands are for pros”. “Pros? What does that mean?” I replied. “Oh, sub-40 minutes”. Really? Hmm. “Oh I can do that,” I said, knowing fully well that I couldn’t. But come on, this wasn’t some County Championships, and there’s nothing worse than a congested race.
We Own the Night race
Post-bag drop and adjusting my eyes to the sea of orange, I followed the warm-up by the lovely Joslyn and waited to be told to go to wave three as we would be starting the race. My blue bracelet (among many other Nike adornments) was already flashing as I stood in the line-up for the We Own the Night race. I spotted a few familiar faces in wave three, which helped calm my nerves. With my iPod at the ready and the whole of the Chase & Status album as my music of choice, I was ready to rock and run when the horn sounded. I tried not to get too carried away by the crowd and to find my marker as Gemma had suggested. Unfortunately for me, my marker, Henry Holland, was a little too speedy for me although I kept up for three or four kilometres. During this time I think I heard the girls from Naturally, Leah shout out my name but when you’re running behind a famous fashion designer, you kind of assume it’s for him. The route itself may have been confusing (the sharp turns, decorative objects and blaring music) but there was so much energy. Even in the last few km, everyone was still smiling, which for me indicates a good race.
And I think this was mainly down to the supporters. For most of the way, I was running with a girl from RunDemCrew and I have to say those guys know how to make some noise. I also spotted the Team, Naturally banner at twice, at around the 4km and 8km mark. And then there was my boyfriend who I managed to see not once but twice too. His manic cheering “Go Bec” gave me the impetus to push harder and go for the sprint finish.
In terms of pace, I managed an average of 4:25 minutes and crossed the line in just over 44 minutes (44:07). It’s not a PB for me but I’m pretty happy with this as it’s the first 10km where I actually felt like I’m getting my running spark back. No, I didn’t get a medal and I’m still in two minds as to whether the glass of bubbles that we were handed at the end was such a good idea. But maybe that was because I downed it way too quickly. I did receive yet another bracelet to add to my Nike collection of wrist accessories. I also felt like I was going on a disorientated treasure hunt afterwards, searching for bits to make up my own goody bag. Post-run treats were left for participants to find outside the various tents. While I understand that Nike wanted to do something different, a bag stuffed with freebies would have been better. After catching up with Laura and her friend, I decided to go as it was only fair on my supporter.
Despite a few negatives, I have to say that the Nike We Own The Race night brought a great group of women who share the same passion for running together. This made the entire experience a whole lot more enjoyable and I hope to catch up with them soon. I did expect more in terms of the actual night, as in it was all a little chaotic once the race was over. Then again, it was the first event of this kind and not even Nike are going to get everything right. And I think the true test of a race is whether you’d repeat the experience. To this I’d answer, hell yeah, and next time I will smash that PB.
Here are some more verdicts from the gang:
What did you think? Did you enjoy the event?