If you are looking for a scenic 10k then look no further. On 17th June, I ran the oh-so-beautiful Osterley Park 10k joining 534 other runners as we battled 24°C+ heat to make it round the course. Read my Osterley Park 10k race review to see I how I got on. And on a personal note, find out what nearly stopped me in my tracks and how the power of stranger motivation got me through to the finish line.
For Londoners, Osterley is virtually a day out as it’s located in Zone 4 on the tube map, way out in the stigs of West London where grassy fields are a plenty. Part of the magic of the Osterley Park 10k is the short walk into the park, transcending from London suburbia to a tiny pocket of countryside with roaming cows and landscape-dotted trees blowing in the wind.
Extreme weather race conditions
Only thing is. There was no wind on race day, June 17th, just pure and utter stillness, not a cloud in the sky as the sun bore down on London. A complete contrast to the last 10k I ran, the Battersea Park 10k.
Impeccable race organisation shone throughout the whole event from beginning to end and it started with the warning email which arrived in our inboxes days before the event.
“It is important that all participants reach the finish line in good health. If you happen to spot a co-runner who is pushing the limits in an irresponsible way, approach him / her or warn one of the marshals and/or medical staff” – Email from Osterley Park 10k race organisers
Get and stay hydrated. Don’t push yourself too hard given the high temperatures forecast and be safe. These are the nuggets of advice I’d like to be reminded about, and I hope alot of other runners read and digested this too.
On the day race organisation
Due to the setup of Osterley Park, you had to walk past the start line to get to the runners area. It was great to see the Osterley Park Run wrapping up just as we walked into the park insanely early – we arrived at 9:30am with a race start time of 10:30am – still better to be there earlier than rushing late.
The bag drop was nice and quick, located in one of the National Trust buildings so our post-run beers stayed nice and cool. And the portaloos weren’t in a bad state either but I may have been lucky with my choices!
It was great to see such a well sign-posted route, accompanied by the constant encouragement from vocal marshals warning runners of all sorts – pot holes, low hanging branches, unexpected steps. This sort of forewarning made me think the race organisers really do care about our safety during the event – sometimes it feel like other race organisers start you off and then let you fend for yourself.
Just getting memories of a 10k in Bath I did a few years ago when everyone mis-read a sign and charged 400m down hill, only to realise it was the wrong way. Recalling this memory still feels painful.
The flat 10k route takes you around the outskirts of Osterley and at times, even out of the park itself. The terrain varies from gravel, to pavement, to grass, but at most you’ll be running for 5-10 minutes on pavement.
You actually do a loop around the lake twice which is nice if you like to know what’s in store but can also be awful if you know it’s a really hot part of the route. Running along Jersey Road twice was tough because the heat was emitting off from just about everywhere around us but like I said – the marshals were great, beckoning us forward with every cheer and clap!
I feel like I’ve seen most of Osterley Park now which is a sign of a good run route. Running past the lake and along tree-lined paths was really pleasant, I just wish I didn’t spend so long looking at the ground trying to get through the full 6.2 miles.
The battle to the finish line
The heat was a real mental battle for all runners who struggled to find shade away from the strong scorching sunshine. Conversations before the run effectively confirmed that this would be a slower than normal run just because of the extreme weather conditions.
To my surprise, a support 50 minute pacer started to run with me – offering me words of advice to help me get through the last few kilometres.
I knew my trainers were going to cause me grief, previous training runs had revealed a tough part of the middle-upper sole which caused additional pressure on the tough skin of my feet. This is completely unusual, I’ve never experienced this with Mizuno trainers before and even more worryingly – I’ve had these trainers for some time now! This effectively resulted in deep skin blisters forming just after the 5k mark on Saturday. At this point, I knew if I stopped I wouldn’t be able to carry on running so I pushed on through the pain. To describe it, it felt like someone was stretching apart the soles of my feet!
Starting off the race, I was ahead of the 50 minute pacer but as I gradually slowed down (1st mile – 7:32, 4th mile – 8:34) I was soon overtaken shortly after the 5k mark. To my surprise, a support 50 minute pacer started to run with me – offering me words of advice to help me get through the last few kilometres. Glenn offered me water and words of support that I really needed to hear.
At the end of the race I hobbled over to the bag drop where another runner must have seen I was suffering as he offered to carry my bag for me. Both acts of kindness just hit the nail on the head when it came round to summarising the Osterley 10k to you now – it’s a race organised by people who genuinely care with participants who look out for each other. When it comes to crazy hot days like this, the heightened level of support was so important.
Thank you Osterley, I’ll be back next year.
More information about the Osterley Park 10k