As a runner, cross country season can often leave you feeling bogged down, both literally and metaphorically, as you take on the elements and try to survive in the hardest of running conditions; be it hammering rain, never-ending mud or running into the unknown. Yet ultimately the addition of a solid cardiovascular base for the summer and a strong team element seems to make it all worthwhile.
In between two mud-filled races of madness, it was a great relief to be offered an escape from this by RunThrough. The London based running community, which host tons of races all across the UK, have been working tirelessly this winter to offer runners the chance to compete in many of the capital’s most famous venues. Often hosting two races in a weekend, last weekend was no exception, with the organisers and around 1,000 participants flocking to either Battersea Park or Finsbury Park in the hope of improving their 5&10k PB’s.
With Vienna Marathon now just 12 weeks away, I opted to take the longer option and raced the 10K. With Battersea Park currently operating as my home training base, it was an easy decision to make on the race venue. Two choices that ultimately payed-off.
With some serous serious speed work under my belt and a strong knowledge of the course, I set about attempting to better my own time, and more importantly breaking the elusive 36 minute barrier. A time constraint that has stood unbroken since I started racing over the distance nearly half a decade ago. With near perfect conditions and a strong field to race alongside, my quest was made a lot easier and my confidence boosted. Things were still going well as we cruised through the middle of the park, care- and 5k runner-free, past the event village and out to the west of the park, before hitting the remaining 1.75km of the first of four laps. Though the roads became more congested between laps two and three, gaps were still easy to find and opponents simple enough to spot (Something that is not always the case on lapped courses). With so many happy looking runners laughing, instagramming and just generally defying the cold temperatures as RunThrough’s volunteers encouraged them and photographed them in action, it was hard not to smile despite the increasing stiffness in my legs. With my pace remaining consistent, my target was still on track going into the final lap.
Such was the community feel of the race, as I went past the bandstand for the final time, where dozens of the event’s volunteers were stood cheering, that I almost felt that I owed it to them as well as myself to break the barrier. Picking up the pace one last time as I used my experience of sprinting down the course’s final 1.5k loop from my usual Tuesday training, I found an extra gear to pull my body home in 35 minutes and 15 seconds. Objective achieved.
A perfect example of the constant support and the welcoming nature of the RunThrough Team was the personalised reception that every runner was greeted with at the finish line, as their names were boomed out by co-founder Matt Wood on his huge megaphone. Combine this with the almost instantaneous results from the chip timing, the rapid rate in which race photos were uploaded onto the Facebook page and unique event personalised medals and you have a pretty great package.
While the races are excellently organised and far more serious than the likes of ParkRun, they do come at a price, namely the entry fee. It is around £15-20, depending on the location, though with both season and 6 month passes available you can get it for a fraction of that price.
With that in mind, the company believe they are offering at a good price point. “I have seen quite a bit of talk over social media about the larger fees set by newcomers into running events. We always wanted to keep our prices for our RunThrough events low enough so people can come regularly and it be financially justifiable.” Wood said “Our season pass works out at around £6 per event. I can't speak for other organisers but I know that the price (and cost to an organiser) of an event will vary massively dependant on the event location and the route involved. Iconic venues and/or road closed routes will make the prices dramatically higher.”
What is RunThrough?
The company was established in 2013 by former Loughborough University teammates and junior England internationals Matt Wood and Ben Green, two self professed running lovers and geeks, looking to build their very own London running community and events service.
Having also worked at a number of key events, it was something Wood saw as an obvious career path: “We love running. Both Ben and I were England International 800m/1500m runners in our younger years, we lived and breathed the sport through our childhood, at university together at Loughborough and now are huge running geeks into our adulthood. Doing running events was a logical progression for us both, especially myself after working with Great Run and London Marathon over the years.” he said
They have made a quick progression in participants and enthusiasm too. Having started with a small event in Bushy Park in 2013 with 300 people, by 2015 they had 3000+ at Hampton Court Palace just over the road. Now in 2017, the company have 60+ events UK wide ranging from 350 runners to 4000+.
It is not just about their events though, as you will see if you take one glance on the company’s Instagram or Facebook pages. The company is supported by Olympians such as Ross Murray, who offer their very own training tips and running advice, to supplement their free running club and to add to the community feel.
“We started RunThrough to build a community of passionate runners in London, and in 2017 we are (hopefully) delivering that. We have a free running club along with the events, and in our events we have 100+ season pass holders that come to every event we organise. It's so good to see so many people coming back, it feels like we are building a giant running family.” Wood adds.
Ben and Matt at one of their events and Matt gets people instagramming!
Family is also a key word when it comes to the future. Though their racing roots may stem from the track, both Matt and Ben’s families have a history of success on the road, with Ben and his father setting a marathon world record in 2015 for the fastest combined father/son marathon time, running an incredible 2:30/2:31 double, the latter’s performance coming at the age of 51. With that in mind, Wood, who’s team already incorporate numerous half marathons into their schedule, definitely believes they will one day host a race over the full 26.2 miles: "Yes most definitely. We organise plenty of half marathon events so it would be nice to add a marathon in as well. My sister actually ran 2.59 at London last year and my Dad ran 2.31 (along with Ben's time and his Dad’s) we have the marathon on our minds and in the blood.”
“We just want to keep our community growing, keep allowing runners to come meet like minded people at the events and personally to meet lots of people. We have lots of exciting opportunities that are presenting themselves and hopefully over the next few years we will be able to share them with lots more keen runners.”