This weekend saw Runr attend our first major running event at the New Forest Marathon since we launched in April and what a great occasion it was. It was an early start. Departing Southsea at 5am meant the roads were relatively quiet, and we found ourselves setting up in the dark by 6. Then the first runners started arriving by 7am on what was a chilly yet fresh and crisp morning and that was when the atmosphere started changing to a sense of excitement mixed with nerves about what lay ahead of the 5000+ participants.
As the sun rose, the car park filled as more runners turned up and soon there was a real buzz about the race village. There was a great selection of event partners there on the day: Alexandra Sports were there so any runners who needed a last minute purchase of gels and accessories could top up, Garmin were showcasing a range of flash looking running watches along with Asics who seemed to be doing a roaring trade for those on the look out for a new pair of running shoes. It was also good to meet Runcamp who support runners with fitness, health and running coaching and were really busy all day. Along with another dozen businesses who had set up and a whole field of food and drinks outlets, it was a great setting for runners to enjoy the atmosphere and take their mind off of the prospect ahead of them.
Of the 5 events taking place on the day (marathon, half marathon, 10k, 5k and Junior race), the marathon was first to start. In the build up to the starting pistol at 9am, runners made their way to the warm up arena to stretch, jog and dance their way to be ready for the start. The looks of some runners faces were of excitement, some of nervousness of what lie ahead and I'd even go as far to say some were a little terrified!
They needn't be worried though as they were in for a great experience.
The New Forest Marathon offered a great location for runners on what was a glorious day weather wise. All routes started and finished from New Park Showground in Brockenhurst and wound their way through the heart of the New Forest National Park. The multi-terrain courses offer some of the most scenic running experiences in the country, taking runners through forest enclosures, on open roads with far reaching views and of course, the famous New Forest ponies! It's safe to say we were a little jealous watching everyone head to the start whilst we manned the Runr pitch which was attracting plenty of attention.
As, one by one, the races set off, we interacted with runners of all abilities, genders and backgrounds and had great fun asking how people were feeling about what lie ahead. A group of Gosport Road Runners running the marathon stopped by to check out our hoodies and upon asking if they were looking forward to the race, without hesitation, the answer was 'no'! They managed to laugh about it but there was definitely nervousness in the laugh.
A member of Hardley Runners came over for a chat, she was about to take part in her first 5k after taking up running in June and she had a broad smile on her face. You could sense the pride she had in what she was about to set out to achieve and she was ready to give it her best.
James, a fellow runner from Southsea who shares our passion for running, was there to continue his 12 races in 12 months challenge. After a 3 month lay off due to a calf tear, he was back on track to complete his challenge by completing the marathon. Raising money for Rowans Hospice in Portsmouth is James' main drive but his passion for running is also a big factor in a challenge that will take him to Winchester and Amsterdam before he completes the 12 races.
As well as those mentioned, many others were glowing with pride at the fact they were ready to run a race. With their number proudly displayed on the front, running watch fully charged and endless accessories to help get them through their own challenge, they were all off to run.
As the day went on, finishers started to cross the line and make their way back to the race village with their medal proudly hung around their neck. Each distance had a different colour strap - red for a marathon, yellow for a half marathon, blue for a 10k and purple for a 5k. Not that the distance mattered. Some runners had their running shoes off and tied around their necks, others just looked like they wanted to find a patch of grass and have a lie down. Needless to say they'd earnt it!
One female runner had a huge grin from ear to ear - she'd beaten he PB by 10 minutes! We still don't know what distance she ran, or the time, but that's not the point. The fact she had run and beaten her previous best was brilliant and she was brimming with pride.
With the end of the day in sight a small ripple of applause started. As we glanced over to the finish straight, a runner was heading for the finish line as the final person to earn his medal. Everyone else joined in the applause as he raised his hands as he crossed the line. What an achievement.
That's what makes running so special. The pride and passion that people have in taking part in a run, regardless of their time or finishing position. The achievement of being part of an occasion and being rewarded with the feeling of success is what people love about running and that's why it's becoming more and more popular.
We'd like to thank the New Forest Marathon organisers for allowing us to be present on the day and promote our Runr brand. We certainly feel that our range of fitness and lifestyle clothing for people that are passionate about running certainly fits with those that took part and we hope they like what we are producing. See you next year!