If you do a race twice, it must be a good one. The Wedding Day 7KM is definitely a good one, and I’ve done it in 2018 and 2019 (both times dressed as a bride👰, keep reading for lots of photos), and I will 100% be there for the 40th anniversary of this race next year. So, despite being a local institution of a race, what’s it all about. Why wedding day, why 7K? So many questions…
This is what the organisers say:
In 1981 HRH Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer were married. The Royal Wedding took place on the 29th July and the day declared a public holiday. In celebration the nation organised street parties and community events throughout the land. The nuptials, when announced coincided with the embryonic emergence of mass participation running initiated by the arrival of the New York Marathon and the 1981 First London Marathon. The 1981 Wedding Day 7K event was an instant success and has been well supported ever since maintaining its Wedding Day theme. Indeed, it has celebrated Will and Kate’s Wedding in 2011 and last year featured that of Harry and Meghan. You can keep reading on their website here.
So last year, I discovered that my friends Nat and Nina were also running this race, that I had also booked with my friends Anna and Krysia. Nat told us about how she did this race years ago, in a full bridal outfit. We someone came to the decision that we should also be brides. So last year, the 3 of us donned white dresses, veils, bouquets, and ran this race. I got extra lace fabric so the other girls although not wearing full outfits, did have lovely veils. Sounds like fun right? Well I have to be honest and say, that we were the only ones 😳. I mean we really didn’t care, you can’t take yourself too seriously, but it turns out that this race has turned into a running club championship race, and keeno runners, taking themselves a bit seriously 💁♀️.
Dressing up again
Fast forward to 2019, and I rushed to book my race place before they sold out (they always sell out).My friend Julia was keen to join in, on the race, and also the dressing up. I did warn her that it was full of club runners and not many (i.e. no one) dresses-up. But I reasoned that last year, we may have inspired others, and surely there were other fun loving runners out there 😀, ready to don a wacky outfit all for a laugh.
Well, again, we were the only ones. I think there was a man in a wedding dress, and another man in a top hat, but I didn’t see either of them. Again, it didn’t matter. There were many stares in awe, bewilderment, confusion, but everyone was very friendly and I like to think that maybe we made some of those serious club runners relax a little bit.
Before the race
We arrived together 👰👰, feeling more confident in our outfits together, collected our numbers, and dropped our bags. We saw some of our lovely local Sweatshop crew and hung out with them for a little pre-race. We then ambled over to the start, all huddled together, we couldn’t really hear the announcements, but the gun went off and we started our watches.
Julia went off ahead of me, and I tried to keep and eye on her, but then I noticed something wrong with my watch. I’d accidentally started Strava (on my Apple Watch) in cycling mode, so instead of showing pace, it was showing speed. This is simply one maths-step too far for my little brain, so I was running purely to feel. I fell instep with another runner and every kilometre we passed he called out the pace and time.
I thanked him and told him my watch troubles. He said he was planning on running 5 minute kilometres. At the time, I thought this was a bit fast for me, but I actually left him behind me and kept pushing on.
All the marshals’ were amazingly friendly, cheering on all the runners, but with a special cheer for the bride 👏👏👏. Often with them saying I was the second bride, and in my head, I was just thinking – go Julia! Not only that my neighbour Krysia (who ran the race last year) was there cheering me on, and it gave me such a great boost to see a lovely friendly face!
I’ve probably run a million different routes in Bushy Park, different loops and distances, as this is my home park, literally a 2-minute walk from my house. So needless to say the course was very familiar. We started no grass, crossed over to a tarmac path, and then to dirt paths, and alternated between the later two, until the finish, on the grass again. There is little to no elevation on the course, just a slight uphill near the end.
As I mentioned above, there were a lot of club runners, I saw a lot of Vegan runners, Stragglers, Ranelagh Harriers, and Ealing Eagles. Actually, for the last mile, I fell in with a lovely trio of friendly Ealing Eagles 🦅🦅🦅. They were amazing, and definitely kept me going. I did pull ahead of them, thanking them, and down the finishing straight one of them passed me by. At the end she came up to me and we had a friendly chat. So I guess my lesson here was that although those club runners look very serious, they are also super nice!
Coming into the finishing straight, I got lots of cheers, and a few goading comments to the male runners around me ‘mate don’t let a bride beat you’. Well, yes, this bride will beat you – ha, take that! 🤗
My lovely husband came down with the boys and he was on time (this is a rare occurrence, often showing up, just after I’ve finished a run). It was so nice to see them cheering me on, and it gave me a nice push to finish fast and do them proud. Somehow I missed the people who were cutting off the timing chips, probably because I was too busy catching up with Julia (who did amazing, in just over 33 minutes) and getting hugs from the boys.
We picked up our t-shirts, which were a lovely deep purple, and I’m so pleased they had women’s fit t-shirts (as well as mens)!
We then ambled over to collect our bags from the bag drop, and get some drinks from the bar at the cricket club. They did the award ceremony (we were too far away on the pitch to see it), but our lovely Sweatshop runner, Dan Jarvis won the race 🥇 for the second year in a row!!! With drinks in hand, my boys played, the adults chatted, all while the sun set all around us.
It’s a lovely local race, with a competitive spirit, and a unique distance and theme. Would I do it again, 100%! Would I dress up as a bride again, maybe… Let’s see how many people I can rope in next year.
The race was on the 26th July 2019. The race sells out very fast, so if you are interested in running it, I recommend following their facebook page here. They also have a website, but I think the facebook page is where all the updates seem to happen.
Did you run the Wedding Day 7K? Do you like dressing up for races? Please share, I’d love to hear from you.