On the 24th of April, I ran in the Virgin Mini London Marathon, a prestigious race along the last 3 miles of the full London Marathon course.
There are events at the Mini Marathon in three age categories for boys and girls, as well as races for wheelchair users. Each event is actually two races in one. First, there is the London Borough Challenge, in which teams of six from each of the 33 London boroughs compete. I was representing my home borough, Waltham Forest, in the under-15s race. Second, there is the British Athletics Road Championship, in which I was representing my region, London, and racing against runners from nine English regions (from the South West to the North East), plus Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. Every athlete had qualified to represent their team, so the competition was tough.
That morning I arrived at Walthamstow Town Hall at 6:30 a.m. to catch the team coach to Old Billingsgate, near London Bridge, where the race was to start. We arrived in the building where the runners wait before racing and, although the atmosphere was electric, it was also very tense with over a thousand athletes squeezed into ‘pens’ in one big room. Max Whitlock, the British Olympic gymnast, was being interviewed just above us, but my focus was on trying to warm up with so little space!
Eventually we were led outside. The start line was cramped as always, but I got a decent spot in the second row. I expected the start to be fast, but that wasn’t the case, although some people sprinted from the starting line to get on TV! I tucked into the lead pack for the first mile and waited for the group to stretch out. It was good running weather – cool and dry – and, with the pace picking up, I was in fourth position coming into the final mile near the Houses of Parliament. I pushed on and eventually finished in third position in the British Championship and won the Borough challenge by 48 seconds. After the race, the winners of each of the races were led to a very hot tent and given a tracksuit and Lucozade whilst we waited for the presentation. The trophies were presented by Max Whitlock and Prince Harry; it was certainly a day to remember!
As part of my prize, I will attend a summer training camp at St Mary's University over the summer, which I am very much looking forward to.
Joseph Owen (10K)