A runner’s perspective on the Town & Gown 10k

It is the day of Town and Gown 2k15 (well, 10k-15 to be accurate), and an early start. I awoke at 1.45 AM, less than an hour after I had gone to sleep, reading my alarm-clock as 7.45AM. Misleadingly refreshed from my rather effective power nap, my usual nocturnal lifestyle failed to acknowledge that it isn’t pitch black at 7.45am. Two days earlier my sister had instructed me to ‘carb-load’, a technique which she said was supported not by her Biomedical Science degree, but by knowledge obtained from her GCSE PE Double award. I hence decided to down a bottle of Lucozade- raspberry flavoured- which catalysed a sugar rush that I’d regret when it woke me up four hours later.

At 8.00AM, after a night of intermittent sleep, I managed to force myself up, renouncing the thought that whilst going the whole 9 yards may be a lot of effort, running the whole 10936 yards of the 10 kilometers was probably going to be too. For breakfast, I discovered I only had bread crusts- a tragedy. My only option was pilfering. They say theft tarnishes a man, but I think it also tarnished said bread, because the stolen white slices, failed to live up to the goodness of my usual seeded wholemeal. Even a cup of peppermint tea couldn’t redeem such a meal- it was a middle class nightmare of undue proportions. I left a note of apology to my flatmate, informing them that they could help themselves to ‘any amount of my milk that they wanted’, signing off with ‘#thatsoundsweird’. If you can’t cross, and subvert communication platforms at 8.32AM on a Sunday morning with a handwritten hashtag, I don’t know when you can.

Before leaving, I managed to salvage one safety pin from a draw to secure my race number, and for the vital second one, was left only with the option of a black and white badge of Kurt Cobain’s face. It is times like this that I chastise myself for trying to be so edgy. Using seamstress skills, gained from my 100% homemade fancy dress record at bops, I took the route of stapling my number to myself instead. If that wasn’t ingenuity I don’t know what is. Forget the wheel, or even the bendy bus, this was true resourcefulness.

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By 9.55AM, I had started bonding with fellow runners at the start line, befriending a middle-aged man, who stated he ‘just wanted to finish’. I questioned the truth in this, given his anticipation to press his expensive sports watch as we neared 10AM. I concluded however that humility is customary in such settings, especially when faced with a girl whose number is held on by staples. We waited in anticipation for the start, entertained by the visual fall out of Keble Ball which had happened the night before. Nothing is more amusing than seeing people who thought they could get away with a cheeky walk of shame, being met with 4000 runners as they creep out of Keble lodge. One girl’s ‘statement dress’, was presumably great for a dramatic entrance the previous night, but from the sheepish look on her face, she definitely hadn’t intended for it to be seen by thousands of fun-runners the next morning.  

At 10AM we began, and I took the ‘wise’ decision to find someone to appoint as my pace-keeper. Two muscly rugby players fitted the bill for a period of time, until I had to concede that my desire to run a good time was more important than my subconscious desire to objectify attractive men. By the 4km water station I was doing well, and although I managed to drench myself with water, I reasoned I was mostly seeking the thrill of throwing the cup to the pavement like a marathon runner anyway. The feeling of superiority you get through being able to litter in a park without fear of penalty, or dented morality, is frankly exhilarating.

I managed to finish the race in a good time, and post-race I was left on a high. I’m not sure whether it was the endorphins or the champagne from the Principal’s brunch, but I felt amazing. Considering bets were being had on whether I would a) vomit, or b) cry, and that I had received six text messages asking if I had in fact managed to get up in time, I felt that the race really was a success. Compared to the stress of essay writing, and wrestling over confined books in the SSL (largely in a metaphorical sense, but not always), putting one foot in front of the other was quite simple. I challenge anyone to give it a go next year, or at least sponsor such a good cause.