Seeing sunrise is one of my favourite things.
I used to dread it as it would probably mean that I was still up from the night before… wow have things changed in my life.
Yesterday my alarm went at 3.40am, I jumped out of bed (I’d been dealing with some anxiety insomnia so had already been aware for a couple of hours #keepingitreal), made coffee, got dressed and hopped in the car. My destination: City Hall and the handover zone for the London Relay.
I signed up a couple of weeks ago to lead the 5.10am leg of the relay, thinking I would be in London that night, But plans changed and so I drove the 70 minutes to Tower Bridge, found a parking spot and legged it to the starting position.
I had worried I might be running alone, but was lucky to have my friend Annie, plus a couple of other runners join us for the 10Km loop.
The sun was just rising over Tower Bridge as we set off along the waterfront. I haven’t run this route in ages, although it used to be a regular morning/lunchtime run for me when I worked next to The Shard. I’d forgotten how peaceful it is in the early hours.
My legs felt incredibly tight, despite an epsom bath and foam rolling (going to book a massage for this week) and luckily everyone was on board with keeping the pace slow. We also decided on a few walking breaks to take photos of the gorgeous city skyline.
The relay is the brain child of Danny Bent, who I used to know in my Project Awesome days. The idea is to get 2500 runners to complete over 4000 miles, breaking the world record for the longest ever relay and to raise money for three community based charities, combating homelessness, tackling mental health stigmas and trying to reduce gang violence.
Whilst there’s no donation required, it costs £20 to sign up for a leg of the race, and if you want to, you can encourage friends and family to sponsor you to run multiple legs. When I arrived yesterday morning, the guy handing over the baton had just finished 3 consecutive loops, meaning a casual 18 miles before 5am (and before he went to work). Oh and he joined us for another mile on his run commute!
In my opinion, one of the best parts of the route is running along the South Bank, which is packed in the summer months, yet lovely and peaceful at 5.30am. The view of the sunrising over the city is breathtaking, and its a bit of a ‘pinch me’ moment that you live in such an awesome place.
We all chatted as we ran. It’s amazing how runners can do that…show up not knowing one another and be gabbing away the next minute. No matter the age, sex, path in life, with running you always have something in common!
Finishing up racing over Tower Bridge reminded me on the hundreds of early starts for Project Awesome over the years that I went. It brought back awesome memories of freezing mornings, high fiving and hugging as we climbed the stoop stairs and ran laps of the bridge. Exercise truly is the best way to start the day. Even better when you’re surrounded by friendly, smiling faces.
We handed the button over to the next runner, a solo serpie (Serpentine Running Club) and I was thrilled to discover that we would receive a medal for our efforts!
I headed straight for an iced coffee – the cotton t-shirts combined with the morning humidity had left me a sweaty mess!
The relay continues until the end of July – to sign up, or find out more information, click here.