Serpentine New Year's Day 10k 2016 - By Charlotte Johnson

Booze is the new beetroot juice

The Serpentine 10k 2015 was one of my first races as an Eagle. It was a miserably grey morning, made worse by the previous night’s booze and three hours of sleep. I ran it with my Mum and met my first group of Eagles. 

Fast-forward a year to 1 January 2016, with a few hours extra sleep on last year, and many more hours spent with the Eagles during the year made this year’s greyish morning a whole lot brighter. Getting up, as for any morning race, wasn’t easy. I cast aside my usual pre-race porridge as I didn’t think my stomach could stomach it; I didn’t have high hopes for the outcome of this race. Injured Mother and injured friend Sophie in tow, we cycled the 8 miles to Hyde Park and arrived in good time to pick up my race number, visit the 20p loo and wish some fellow Eagles a HAPPY NEW YEAR, which was really more of a whisper, a hangover was threatening… 

I left Mother and Sophie to limp up to the 2k marker and made my way to the start. I found some Eagles, enquired about timings and tactics, and before we knew it: GO! 

Winter Wonderland had caused a slight bottleneck at the start that evened out fairly quickly. As usual, my first kilometer was too fast; what did I think it was, a parkrun? Anyway, I wasn’t feeling too rotten so ambled on. I soon found myself besides Michael Hellyer, who I recognised from a couple of the interval sessions I’d led in Lammas Park in the summer, and who I like to refer to as, “one of the fast boys”. Ben Cale dropped back to us and kept us company for a few kilometers before tearing off in anticipation of his infamous sprint finish with Niall.

The kilometers, amazingly, seemed to slip by largely painlessly, and largely painlessly, I kept up with Michael, gratefully nodding thanks to spectators and Serpie volunteers shouting, “Go Eagles” and “Go Charlotte” (I did have my name on my vest after all, but also, I’ve met and befriended many Eagles since returning from university in the summer and I quietly revelled in their personal encouragement). 

As we started on the second loop we met some of the less fast runners, which I love, not because I am passing people (honestly!), but because I love to look out for my club mates and give them a cheer. I should add at this point that winner, James McMurray of the St Albans Striders came tearing past us and I genuinely thought he’d just started the race late. At kilometer 7, I passed Jeremy, Sophie’s Dad, parkrun-lover and almost-Eagle, and told him that he needed to get a move on and heard a groan of assent in reply. Wei Hei was a bit further ahead and we exchanged encouragement before pressing on towards the finish.

Turning the corner onto the final stretch along the Serpentine was welcome but the wind was very much unwelcome. Anyhow, there were speedy Eagles lining the finish and Mum and Soph calling “SPRINT, SPRINT”, but by this point, I wasn’t too bothered about sprinting. Even without glasses I could make out a 43-something on the clock, it would be a PB, and so I went over the clock smiling (or so I thought, the photos, predictably, display the characteristic sprint grimacewe all know and love). So, following many glasses of prosecco, tequila and a few hours after NYE I had managed a 10k PB; 2016, come at me! I am seriously considering reviewing my fuelling strategy in races to come.

Indeed, the PB was glorious and I will certainly bask in it for a while, but the cherry on the cake was the unquenchable support from Eagles around the course and the myriad of PBs from Eagles (20 out of 51 Eagles got a PB, if you were wondering), which I am convinced must be connected. Have any of you stats lovers tested the correlation between the number of Eagles spectators and runners yet?

All in all, a bloomin’ marvellous effort was displayed on New Year’s Day. Thanks to Michael for the spontaneous pacing, all the enthusiastic supporters before, during and after the race, and the photographers, professional and otherwise. Running around Hyde Park is always rather fun, dodging tourists and dogs, and the relatively small field makes the pretty flat race a fast one. But most importantly, taking part on NYD makes you pretty hardcore and is a good omen for the year to come. The goody bag was pretty good this year too: water, medal, sports gel, a couple of discount vouchers, and A WAGON WHEEL! Not a shoe bag in site. I am super proud to be an Eagle and can’t wait for another year and next year’s Serpentine 10k with the convocation!