Pounding parks

The Nike 10K!

I love this race, a ten-klom mass road race organised by the world’s greatest sports brand. And I love the whole twisted philosophy behind it: hey, look at me! I love this brand so much I paid the company £25 for the privilege of running around a public park advertising its products!

The staging is perfect. Big screens, loud music, Hyde Park. Seb Coe and Paula Radcliffe are mascots. Ex-Olympian Seb may be in his 50s, but Marathon champ Paula is six months’ pregnant, which sort of evens things up. The warm-up contains the usual impossibly agile movements, and once again I’m humbled by just how unco-ordinated my body is. I’m no dancer. So here we are: 30,000 people strengthening the Nike brand.

Of course, I’m not affected by branding. So when the chips are down, I’m off across Hyde Park feeling enpowered through sport. Swoosh. I’m going to Just Do It.

The race, as usual, is fun. This year’s theme is North (London) vs. South, Northerners in green, us Southerners in Orange. It’s crowded but good natured. There’s no loneliness en route: too many people; few can run at race pace due to the sea of ankles. Which doesn’t matter. We’re here for fun.

While these events are stupid, simple, mindless – nothing more than the thrill of the mob – they still leave you feeling great, I muse as I cross the finishing line slightly short of an hour later. I Tube home, endorphins spilling from every pore, and prepare myself for another week in the trenches of commercial prose.

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