Thursday, 30 June 2011

The idea

For some time now, ever since I was aware of the New York Road Runners 5th Avenue Mile race I've always felt that we could replicate something similar here in the UK. In fact, just like the creation of the London Marathon that was influenced by the existence of the New York Marathon.
However, there is no highly publicised mile race upon any of the mean streets of London to my knowledge, and in fact, I'm not even sure there is a straight flat mile akin to 5th Avenue. Maybe I'm showing my naivety toward London here. I'm open to corrections.

So, being a regular runner in Bushy Park I had come to learn that the distance from gate to gate is a mile on the road. Of course this got me thinking and I kept on doing this thinking and not much else. Then last week along comes MarathonTalk with their Magic Mile challenge. MarathonTalk is a runners podcast first released to the public on Tuesday, January 12th 2010, and I've been an avid listener since day one. It is hosted by my good friend Tom Williams and Martin Yelling (husband of Olympian Liz). They have set this challenge as so; 'Your task is simple... to represent either Team UK or the Rest of the World by running one mile as fast as you can between the 1st and the 14th of August.' All they require of you is to sign up, for free, to register your time for fun purposes.

I had coincidentally been doing a bit more thinking about the mile thing a fortnight ago, and felt Bushy had something to offer. I was drawn to the Fountain and the road that runs around it, and it's oversized and circular track shape. The road is flat, potentially fast and if a mile was to be run around it, it would negate wind conditions as it would balance itself out. I proceeded to map out a mile one evening by the combination of running around the fountain, starting from a particular place (just before the new path that cuts just in front of the Bushy parkrun start) after having mapped a route out online and using my Garmin to double check.

The route is like so.

It starts and finishes in the same place and takes in two laps of the fountain. Given the right conditions, I feel it could be very quick and no worse than a track mile.

Combined with the efforts of MarathonTalk to get a mile challenge off the ground I felt there would be no time like the present to press ahead with sorting out an organised mile myself. If there were to be many people wanting to find out their potential as to how fast they could do a mile, why not allow them to do so whilst pitting themselves against others so they get that extra push?

I must express that I intend this to be a low key affair. It is not an official race, it is just an organised time for various runners to come together to see how fast they could run a mile. If anything it's a speed session in the park where you simply do a mile rep balls to the wall.

I would like this to happen on Wednesday August 10th, in the early evening after the gates have closed to traffic. This should allow us time and space on the road, but I am also very aware that this does not mean there won't be bikes, or the occasional late car so would like to make sure that anyone taking part knows this. They have to be held responsible for their own safety and not take any unnecessary risks to save a few seconds. And if anything, if we cannot go over the proposed course, we do have a whole park to run an alternate route without the fear of cars.

I would love all range of abilities to take part, and members of any club if at all. I'd like to make provisions for recording times for people too, but also recommend people bring their own watches in case. With it being after the gates have closed then car parking would not be available in the park and the toilets may well be shut or closing. Baggage provisions and responsibility would also lie with the runner. We can only hope it doesn't rain.

Ideally I'd like to be able to gauge numbers and estimated finish times so that we could group people together if numbers were too high and we had to create multiple runs.

Anyway, those are my thoughts for now. Hopefully come August 10th I have some idea where this headed.

Thanks for your time, and if you need to e-mail me please do so.


  1. I should be back from my hols by then but it'll be touch and go.
    Hardly ideal preparation but if I'm back I might give it a go.

  2. Count me in Danny :)