2017 sees SpecialEffect celebrating their tenth anniversary and the charity has organised a number of events to mark the occasion. I’ve already participated in a few of these so far this year – including volunteering at the Rezzed expo holding a 72-hour streaming marathon as part of GameBlast17 – and this past weekend, I took part in the British 10K. My goal was to beat my time from 2016 and raise as much funds and awareness for SpecialEffect whilst doing so.
In case you haven’t already heard of them, this an amazing UK-based organisation aims to put fun and inclusion back into the lives of people with physical disabilities by helping them to play video games. They do so using a range of technology from modified gaming controllers to eye-control systems, and levelling the playing-field in this way has a profoundly positive impact on therapy, rehabilitation and confidence. What’s more, the charity does all of this great work completely free of charge.
Early in the morning on Sunday, 09 July 2017, 102 runners dressed in SpecialEffect t-shirts and video game costumes took to the streets of London to race through 6.2 miles with over ten-thousand other runners. We all got into our pens to warm-up and wait for 09:30; and as we made our way towards the starting line near Hyde Park Corner after the gun was fired, the nerves began to set in. A huge thank you to David, who I met in the crowd and chatted to me to keep me calm!
The route this year took us past iconic sights such as St James’s Palace and Big Ben, and you really start to appreciate how beautiful the city is when taking part in an event like this. With so much to look at, along with uplifting musical acts at every kilometre to help promote organiser Virgin Sport’s ‘street party’ theme, there was plenty to help take the runners’ minds off of how much their calves were aching.
This was the second time I’d participated in the British 10k so I knew what to expect but the weather conditions made it difficult. We’ve been experiencing a bit of a mini-heatwave here in the UK recently with temperatures getting up to the high-twenties and the heat clearly effected a lot of the participants (much love to the St John Ambulance volunteers for helping out). While the glowing sunshine and bright blue sky provided a lovely day for spectators, it sapped the runners’ energy and made the uphill sections of the course a particular challenge.
I’m sad to say that unlike last year, I had to slow down and walk on several occasions throughout the race. I’m slightly gutted about this but know it was the right decision to make, as the last thing you want to do during a 10K on a hot day is to become overheated and not take in enough water. I made it across the finish line with a bit of sunburn and there’s something positive to take away from the experience: my time was only 02:30 minutes slower than in 2016. That means my running speed must have increased over the past 12 months so I’m on track to take on the 2018 event at under an hour.
As silly as it sounds, making it to the end of the British 10k is a pretty emotional experience. It could just be because I’m a daft idiot but it’s hard not to get a little tearful as you join the other participants on the walk back up to Trafalgar Square, everyone wearing their medals. The SpecialEffect running team got together for a few photographs and drinks after the event and you can see some of them in the short gallery below.
A massive thank you to Becky and Tom from the charity for coordinating us, and Dr Mick and Nick for joining them in cheering us along the route! I’ll definitely be joining the team again for next year’s run but for now, I’m going to rest my legs and play some video games.