There was quite a buzz of excitement at the pollinator-themed Kew Gardens 10K on Saturday (16 September). runABC South news writer, Alan Newman, was among 2,328 runners who made a bee-line to the World Heritage Site of Royal Botanical Gardens, Kew for the opening event of Richmond RUNFEST and this is his report of a run amongst the largest and most diverse botanical collection in the world.
I was impressed with Kew Gardens 10K long before the start. There was a steady flow of race information, training tips and motivation on emails personally signed by race director Tom Bedford and assistant, Jade Parker. This felt like a big event but with runners' needs first and foremost. Tom and Jade know their stuff and everything runs like clockwork.
It was good to line up alongside GB internationals like Aldershot's Chris Thompson and Charlotte Purdue and they duly won in lightning quick times. Thompson negotiated the twisty course – there are more than 30 turns – in 29:30 and Purdue (34:37) was fourth overall. Thompson has won for the past three years and his best time (28:57 in 2015) stands up well against his 2010 PB of 28:17 in the BUPA London 10,000.
The men's rostrum was completed by Alex Milne (Enfield and Haringey, 31:29 PB) and Jack Blaiklock (Thames Hare and Hounds, 33:32 PB). The front runners behind Purdue, first European in the recent London World Championships marathon, were GB cross country international, Emily Hosker-Thornhill (Aldershot, 35:09) and Rachel Felton (Shaftesbury, 36:05).
Kew Gardens was a wonderful place to run and to relax afterwards but it was soon time to move on to Old Deer Park to soak up the atmosphere and enjoy a free pint of Fullers beer at the RUNFEST Expo and Kid's Races. Live bands entertained as runners mingled and swapped tales before the marathon and half marathon the following day.
It was here that I met Chris Mound and his wife Kyla, who take the prize for the least distance travelled as they live on Kew Green, just yards from the race venue. Chris told me how he had proposed at the finish line of the Las Vegas Half – so rock and roll – but that's another story! After a steady 48:50 warm up at Kew he was to run 43:19 (and 22:20 for 5k) at the Descente London Duathlon at Richmond the following day in a super sporting weekend. Chris summed up his Kew 10k experience with this recommendation: "It was a wonderful way of runners to experience everything that Kew Gardens has to offer. The event was extremely well organised, there was great support around the course and all finishers received a well stocked goody bag, a trendy t-shirt and a chunky medal. An excellent event. See you there next year?"
Richmond RUNFEST has raised more than £1 million for charity in five short years. Always looking ahead, race director Tom Bedford said: “To achieve this milestone in just five years is an Olympic achievement, considering the size of the race. With the addition of Kew Gardens 10K and Richmond Marathon events we hope to double this number in half the time!”
Images courtesy Max Ellis