I’ve never actually raced the mile distance on a track, so on Wednesday evening I was excited to take part in the inaugural SOAR Mile held at the Millenium Arena in Battersea Park. Excited and also pretty nervous. We’d been asked to submit our estimated finishing times before the race and then given our start times for the evening, and I’d somehow managed to be in the same race as fellow FRC Captain Mr Han, who was at least 30 seconds faster than me over a mile! I had a feeling I might be coming last in this race! No one likes to come last!
SOAR are a performance running wear brand and at race registration we were given a discount for their products as well as a lovely print of the front page of the Evening Standard newspaper when Roger Bannister famously broke the 4 minute mile record! Would we be witnessing a sub-4 minute mile that evening? That would be quite something and SOAR had done their best to attract the top athletes by offering a cash prize of £500 for the fastest male and female. Now can you see why I was nervous?! Bitten off more than I could chew?!
After watching the first race from lane 3 and cheering on Fulham RC members Bob and Cat, as well as wannabe FRC-er (but actually representing Barnes!) Jenni, it was my turn to take to the track for my four-and-a-bit laps. With the fright of the gun’s bang we were set off and I settled behind an Ealing Eagle runner, tucking in tight to the side and maintaining a steady pace for the first lap. As we went through our first 400m, lap times were being shouted out and as I passed I heard “1:29, 1:30” so I knew I was on my target pace of a 6 minute mile. The second lap was similar to the first, steady steady, keeping close to the heels of the runner in front, hoping he was maintaining a good pace. I went through 8oom dead on 3 minutes and knew I just had to hang on and run the same again for a 6 minute mile. After the second lap however, runners started overtaking me, slowly but surely, one by one, until it was just two ladies at the back of the pack, clinging on while the men stretched out ahead. The bell rang for our last lap and despite the wanting, my legs had no more gears to give, no kick, nadda. The last girl passed me on the back straight and even this didn’t will my legs on to push harder, there was nothing left in them so I just hung on and gave it everything that I in the home straight. I crossed the line, stopped my watch and looked down to a 6:02 finish.
I retired, hot and sweaty, to lane 3 again to cheer on the other races, which got progressively faster and finished on a high with a close battle of girl power between Katie Snowden and Rosie Clarke, Katie just taking it, and an outstanding winning time of 4:13 for Chris Olley. Just like other track meets I’ve watched, the atmosphere was electric, but this time, I’d actually taken part! and loved it! Tonight I get to take on the mile distance again, but in the relays with my fellow FRC friends. A mile seems such a short distance, over with in a flash, just 4 laps of that track, but it’s tough, so high-five to everyone taking on a mile race this Summer, go get ’em!