It was 30C, the hottest day of the year. The smell of eggs frying on car bonnets was everywhere. And Argos had run out of fans. Again. The Sun newspaper dusted down its ‘Phew, Wot a Scorcher’ headline, acknowledging it was ‘the sun wot did it’, tittering at its own joke.
But the heat was no joke. There I was, having drunk my own body weight in Yorkshire tapwater, virtually liquid from the sweat pouring from my pores, trying to lace my running shoes. ‘It’s only a mile,” I told myself. “Anyone can run a mile, even in this heat. And there’s no shame in taking it easy. None at all. No no nooooo”
Hyde Park, that’s the genuine Hyde Park perched on Leeds’ Woodhouse Moor, not the place of many soapboxes down in that there London, hosts an annual one-mile dash in the summer, called, aptly, the Hyde Park Summer Mile. Here, runners of all abilities see just how fast they can run a mile and, most importantly as far as I’m concerned, there’s a medal to be had. I do like a bit of well-earned bling!
Runners are matched to those with similar estimated times. As someone who forgets their watch and even when I remember it, forgets to stop it, I guessed conservatively. Ten minutes is a round number, which would allow for a quick break for CPR, so I went for that.
I knew not to sprint off too quickly (as if!) so settled down to a pace to suit the conditions, a fast shuffle. I’ve been to California’s Death Valley and this felt almost as hot. The air was thick and warm, it was like breathing a balloon, ten minutes seemed wildly optimistic. But yet I found something from somewhere, maybe it was the glint of the medal waiting for me in the distance, and managed just over nine minutes. The relief as I crossed the finish line was immense, how can a mile be harder than 15 over the Yorkshire Moors?
So now I have another bit of bling. All I can say is, roll on winter, I much prefer running in the cold – and if there’s mud, so much the better!