10th July 2014, Battersea park. A crowd of almost 15,000 people from 326 companies gathered at London’s Battersea Park to run the 5.6k JP Morgan Chase Corporate Challenge. The event quite rightly claims to celebrate the balance, cohesion and competiveness of the London workforce.
We had got sight of the finish line and of the huge flags that promised to qualify you a ‘finisher! And crowds had started to cheer. That had changed everything.
The 200 acre Battersea Park is located in the London Borough of Wandsworth, at the south bank of the river Thames, promising some gorgeous views of the river overlooking Chelsea.
The skies were overcast as we set off. Spotify kept me entertained and I ran a steady pace wondering just how much energy was collectively being burnt that evening and the power it would contain if channeled into something tangible. We are all so connected through the web and yet there is just that something extra special and unifying about getting together at a common place to achieve a common goal – makes it all a bit more worthwhile and gives you a sense of purpose.
We ran on, passing clearly marked milestones at each kilometre and just as we neared the 5k mark, the park was set interestingly such that you saw the finish line somewhere to your left and it seemed strangely close considering we hadn’t yet seen the 5k mark. You had to go just 30 seconds on to realise that you had another little circle and in some sense, make your way back to the finish line.
But just over that short space of 30 seconds, until that realisation struck you, something changed. We had got sight of the finish line and of the huge flags that promised to qualify you a ‘finisher! And crowds had started to cheer. That had changed everything.
Those who had given up running by then started to make a renewed effort. Those running by the sides tried to come into the centre, almost as if the runners were trying to give back to the crowds a performance worth cheering for. And even though we realised that there was the extra bit to do before we got to the finish, this renewed energy was sustained through to the finish line.
In most cases though, you could see the change that’s triggered by the culmination of a visible finish line holding a promise, some support, a touch of passion for the goal and a desire to be your best
So what is it then about the finish line that brought in a sudden burst of energy? Is it knowing that there’s just a tiny bit more to go that makes you give it your all? What if the finish line suddenly moved and you had to sustain that pace a little bit longer? Would it be any different if you were about to finish something you didn’t particularly enjoy? How would it be different if you had given yourself a target and you were working towards a Personal Best (PB)?
Too many questions and no one right answer but somewhere in there lies the plethora of logical and emotional conversations that play in our minds, and we each take what we want from it. There are those who pick up pace as they dash to the finish, and then there are others who are motivated to do their best all throughout the race, as their completion is only against a target in the mind, while there will be others who would rather keep out of the race and just enjoy their run.
In most cases though, you could see the change that’s triggered by the culmination of a visible finish line holding a promise, some support, a touch of passion for the goal and a desire to be your best – all in all adds up to a decent run.
So there we go, I finished in just over 36 minutes; qualified as a ‘finisher’. I didn’t listen to much of what Spotify was trying to sing to me. Not sure if I was tuned in or tuned out?