London Walking Tours    with Joanna Moncrieff

Running the Race

Tonight I watched a great event – the annual City of London Road Race. However I wasn’t joined on the streets by hundreds of people. In fact I was the only person in my stretch of the course near to Liverpool Street station.

The race sponsored by Standard Chartered started at 7.15pm at the Honourable Artillery Company ground near to Old Street so there were a lot of people on the streets but they were all rushing home and seemingly oblivious to the race about to start. They would have noticed the barriers on the roads, the buses diverted and the stewards with their yellow jackets but they didn’t stop to think that it might be worth spending a few minutes to egg the runners on.

I had planned to get a bus from the Strand to Liverpool Street but ended up walking from St Paul’s because of the diversions. I noticed the signs for the race but carried on like everyone else as it wasn’t due to start for another 15 minutes. However standing in the station waiting for my train it suddenly dawned on me that I didn’t want to be like everyone else and wanted to be back by the side of the road being a part of it.

In the 15 minutes or so that I watched the runners turn into Old Broad Street the winner would more than likely (going by last year’s times) be crossing the finish line back at Old Street. Initially I was just going to watch the start but the pounding legs became quite hypnotic and I couldn’t draw myself away. I then started looking out for people I knew and saw H, the Managing Partner of my old firm quite close to the front. I saw someone with an army backpack, someone dressed as a zebra, Wonderwoman and several people who had volunteered to dress up as human billboards for the sponsoring company and who looked very uncomfortable. However I mostly saw normal people from law firms, banks, barristers’ chambers and accountancy firms concentrating on completing the 3.5 mile course in a respectable time.

I must have returned to my hypnotic state as was then amazed to hear someone call my name and noticed that a group of runners from my old company had recognised me!

Prior to watching this event I had been feeling a bit down and sorry for myself. This was the perfect antidote and I boarded the train home feeling quite happy.