The shoot I did for Nike UK before Christmas has been up since the new year and the images are on the Nike store homepage and on the Facebook page for Nike Running.
Darkz, Jamie, Venetia, Lina, Orsi, Elle, Petra and lots of Nike Fitness Club trainers spent a day doing drills (HELL) and sprints (MORE HELL) in East London for the Make It Count campaign. Anything I do with Run Dem Crew is fun. Never a dull moment. The drills were worth it for the laughs we had.
Still hate the word “banter” though…
I found the other pics on the Nike Facebook page. The photos of my brother, Chris, were from the Nike+ Run Club New Year’s Day Make It Count run from Niketown London. He’s one of the pacers for Nike+ Run Club when he’s not at uni and he came straight from the airport to join in on the run and enjoy the three free breakfasts. What a winner (div).
This is the behind the scenes video of the shoot that Olivier @oliviergeraghty and I ran around in the dark in Shoreditch for late last year for CRACK Magazine. It was FREEZING but totally worth it. It helps when you’ve got a really nice team on board though and lots of hot chocolate.
This is the first shoot I’ve done using light painting, but I love the effects Sola created by running around like a Jedi wannabe behind us with a big LED light stick with coloured gels sellotaped to it. Lots of long exposure shots with lots of controlled shivering, but lots of LOLZ on set.
The rest of the images are up on CRACK Magazine’s site.
LDN Calling - BRIDGE THE GAP
I feel like I’ve been living my life on hyperdrive since mid-June. Subsequently, I’m SHATTERED and I now have a cold. Which BLOWS.
After two whirlwind weeks in New York City, I returned to London for another Bridge The Gap summit-type-international-meeting-of-runners-to-party-and-run-and-party thing. Absolutely wild and absolutely brilliant.
Last time, in Berlin, six crews congregated, ran a half marathon and danced all night in a party hosted by Run Dem Crew DJs. Nike really looked after us with a VIP spot for pre- and post-race chilling and the bar for the after-party.
This time, Bridge The Gap II – LDN Calling – involved more running and partying than Berlin, and made coming home to rainy London with post-holiday blues, a LOT easier to deal with.
I arrived home from NYC on Friday afternoon, ate, showered and dressed before cycling to Shoreditch to meet the Run Dem family and the international crews at the Hoxton Hotel. Seeing people like insanely cool Yue Wu (who I had last seen in Paris in April) and cheeky Jay Smith from the Paris Running Club and the Bridge Runners (who I’d seen less than 24 hours previously) in my home city was stupidly exciting and the atmosphere was literally buzzing.
Ten crews from ten cities rolled through for LDN Calling: London Run Dem Crew, New York Bridge Runners, She Runs LA, Berlin Graviteam, Paris Running Club, Athletics Far East Japan, Red Snakes Milano, Amsterdam Patta Running Team, Mexico Kanan Running Team and Russia Mosvka River Runners.
Chop and Charlie’s itinerary started with a run around Shoreditch, Brick Lane and Tower Bridge, before running along the South Bank to the grafitti tunnel at Leake Street where the teams stencilled the walls and competed in a drag race, sprinting, using Nike SPARQ parachutes. Props to Miss Harmony, representing the beautiful She Runs LA crew for leading the women and to Shameek from Run Dem Crew for smashing the men’s finals.
Boris bike X Leake Street
Crews X Leake Street
Yue, Sophie & Jay - Paris Running Club
All the girls from the crews!
Club founders. Alero - LA, Jay - Paris, Charlie - London, Coach Saes - NYC
Drag race trophy.
3 X Crew Love.
Mei X Boris Bike (taken from Heron Preston’s Instagram - @HeronPreston)
I’m still riding out this injury so I didn’t run, I just grabbed a Boris bike and cycled with the crews. But I did dance. A lot. Quest Love was DJing at Village Underground that night and the Bridge Runners, true to style, were the last to leave the dance floor.
The next morning, Charlie led the crews through East London to a studio in Stratford where signs were made for Cheer Dem Crew to hold for Sunday’s race. More drinks, more food, more vibes. Nike 1948 London hosted a barbeque for us that evening, and Charlie screened the RDC Youngers preview video from Ewan Spencer and Ed Skrein’s RDC Anthem video. Sharmadean’s party at Alibi that night had 30+ international visitors filling the dance floor, dancing hard and drinking hard, with some people (LIKE CEDRIC HERNANDEZ, infamous Bridge Runner, #thatshirtidontlike) only getting 2 hours sleep before his 10k race.
Paris go HARD!
Yue & I with honorary AZN Keith.
RDC Younger Olivier & Yue
Sami, Yue, me, Troy and Olivier. RDC X PRC.
No running, but LOTS of dancing. My shins ached for DAYS. Might as well have tried to run!
Skinny, Sami, Troy.
Being Coach Saes - COUNTS.
I met the crews after their race at the Nike+ FuelFest, hitching a ride with the Bridge Runners from Waterloo and rolling on to Battersea Power Station. Nike outdid themselves with an amazing venue with great food and a well-stocked bar. 2000 invited guests had Nike+ fuel bands to sync together and, while we partied to Magnetic Man and Tinie Tempah with the best set coming from Zane Lowe, our fuel points were counted on huge screens. Our running crews were wild, making it a real party. I’m pretty sure we racked up at least 100,000 points between us in the 3 hours we were there before we rolled onto the after-after-party where we really made it count (PUN ABUSE! SORRY!).
Ready to fuel up with beautiful Hanne.
Luke gets all the love!
Athletics Far East. Badass AZNS.
Troublemaker Troy! Von Majik.
Big love for mentor Bangs <3
The weekend was wild, 3 parties in a row and busy days, but not the end of the late nights. Luckily (or not), I was still running on NYC time (5 hours behind), so the 5am bed times weren’t hurting but the 7am alarm clock really was. Monday and Tuesday night saw my flat crammed with Bridge Runners, suitcases and Nike trainers (not all mine, I promise!) as the NYC crew crashed at mine.
Cocktails for the Bridge Runners, tea for Grandma Mei.
On Tuesday afternoon, we checked out the Damien Hirst exhibition at the Tate Modern and walked to 1948 to catch an emotional housekeeping at RDC. Charlie awarded the many Nike British 10K medals (check the video from Jerome that I reblogged before). I love Charlie’s medal nights, because you get the chance to learn of amazing achievements of members of your crew. That night was no exception and I spent at least 15 minutes in a steady stream of tears, mostly a result of seeing the RDC Youngers’ success rewarded, especially Darkz and P Casso. Charlie Dark is more than a mentor to a lot of people, including myself, yet he speaks of each individual with so much respect and admiration. That is something that I really value about him. I never feel more special than after Charlie’s just told the room that my medal means something to him, or after a half an hour life and career talk in his kitchen after a painful morning run or after Run Dem when he says I’m on the right track. It means something, you know?
RDC Youngers and Keith (taken from RDC)
Keith & Jessie
Coach Saes & ‘Bridge Mom’ (according to Keith) Jessie.
I can totally see how Mike Saes keeps his crew tight too. Having met him briefly in Berlin, I was glad to spend a few afternoons and evenings at his studio in NYC, accompanied by John Law, chilling and, basically, learning. I was pleasantly surprised to find that we have a similar perspective in regards to running (except that he’s been running for years and I haven’t, and he’s actually good at it, whereas I still struggle with anything further than a mile). Neither of us like early morning runs (who does?!) and we both prefer to run with people as opposed to a solo slog through the city. I still find it hilarious that the founder of this whole urban running culture spent 2 nights with Jeggi and Cedric on my sofa and front room floor while badass Jessie Zapo and Crystal passed out with me in my room. Between Jessie and Coach Saes, the Bridge Runners are well looked after, and I wouldn’t trade the time I spent with them in NYC and London this past week.
My favourite photos of the week from RDC, by Tom Hull. Jay Smith of Paris Running Club above and below, Darkz, Dre and Femi right behind Charlie Dark at the 7K mark at the 10K race. Gunfingers. GO HARD OR GO HOME.
What I love about Bridge The Gap is the opportunity we are given to travel and meet like-minded people from around the world, and make things like races fun things to do. These things weren’t really on my radar before now. I mean, since when has a race been fun?! I have had the chance to talk to some great people this week and been given great advice from experienced runners such as Knox Robinson. The planning that went into LDN Calling is much appreciated because last weekend was unbeatable and I really, really, REALLY can’t wait till Amsterdam now!
Thanks Charlie. Thanks Chop.
I think it’s pretty special when, in your first attempt at a new competitive sport, you rank highly. My little brother, Chris (Count To Three), has entered 5 triathlons this summer FOR THE FUN OF IT. He kind of just signed up for loads, not expecting to be accepted, and then thought ‘ahh fuck it!’ when they all responded positively. His first ever (EVER!) was yesterday and he came home with the second fastest time in the 16-24 age group. Once again, the golden boy is putting me to shame. I need to step my game up! The final competition is the big one, at the end of summer. Chris is taking sponsorships for his charity for the London Triathlon on his blog (Count To Three), so if you’d like to support Baby Mei, you can and it will be much appreciated. I’m so proud right now! 😁
Want some morning motivation? This video just made my day.
Finally running with Dem dat Run.
Aside from the blah attitude to training as a whole, I’ve found one positive light in the last two weeks which has been Run Dem Crew. My motivation took a major slump, but my stamina can now at least take a mile and a bit, so I thought I should take up Charlie’s invitation from Summer last year lest it go stale and crumble into regret. Nervous doesn’t even begin to describe how I felt two Tuesdays ago as I walked into Nike’s 1948 in Shoreditch. Jumpy, nauseous, exhausted, delirious, terrified, excited and exhilarated fit the description much better. It’s like walking into a room where everyone is super-cool and really good at sports and everyone already knows each other, and you’re the new dorky kid who’s shit at PE. Oh, wait…
I was anticipating an excruciatingly embarrassing introduction to the whole crew from Charlie and I wasn’t disappointed. So aside from the fact that 175 people, fresh from their post-work dash to 1948, which made the building toasty to say the least, my blushing was enough to melt the Nike+ Fuelbands being trialled by some of the Run Dem Crew runners. (Side note: Nike+ Fuelbands look so OSSUM in real life!) It didn’t help my burning cheeks when Bangs also pointed out to the crowd that “Mei could really do with everyone’s support because she really, really hates running”. So now everyone knows me as the girl who hates running but still showed up to the running club where everybody loves running. FML.
I knew I wasn’t going to be able to cope in anything but the slowest group, so I put two hands up when Charlie asked who was running in tortoises, one for me and one for my stomach which I felt I was going to leave behind on the bench. I have never been so NERVOUS! But here’s why I love running with people. Candice straight away told me that she would run with me, slower than her usual pace, and Bangs leaned over and said she’d be right there with me too. That is LOVE. Both of these women are working towards different goals, but they still chose to amble along with me.
Denny, Mubi and Dom were there with words of encouragement and niceness. Elles, George and Rhalou were being really excited for me. Peigh was there being Peigh. Chaka was being chatty. And I was there trying not to throw up.
There were other newmans in my group. Janet was one of them, an old friend of Charlie’s, and I felt relieved knowing I wasn’t the only one who wouldn’t know my way or know how things run at Run Dem with dose dat run. We did a four mile loop from Shoreditch, passing Liverpool Street Station, running over London Bridge and along to Tower Bridge, over and back up to Liverpool Street then dashed back to 1948 to push ourselves right at the end. Absolutely brilliant. I kept a good pace and managed to get my running mojo to resurface. There is NOTHING like running in a group of people who like running, have experience in running and want you to like running too but aren’t overbearingly patronising. There is fresh perspective from everyone. The group runs steadily, slowing down to support those who aren’t having much fun, but still maintaining a good pace to keep momentum going.I didn’t really struggle as much as I thought I would. And, you know what? It is liberating to achieve new successes with your own personal running-demon beat-downs.
Post-run, I got some good advice on how to stretch properly from Mark and spent the next half an hour rolling around the floor, stretching my legs past their usual capacity while I waited for Denis to be ready to grab pancakes for dinner because it was Shrove Tuesday which means it is the law to eat pancakes, or else.
Two weeks in, and I can already vouch for the fact that there’s a lot about Run Dem Crew that makes it so enjoyable. There is a real sense of community where everyone looks after each other, making it quite a self-sufficient group. The benefit of its huge range of members being so (cool and) diverse and based in London is that there is literally at least one of every type of person you would ever need to meet within the group. If something needs doing, someone can always do or provide or knows someone that can. Plus everyone wants the group dynamic to work, so you can literally see people’s commitment. Charlie’s passion and energy is second to none and it’s motivating to be around that buzz.
The feeling is obviously addictive, because I went back for Run Dem run nombre dos last Tuesday. This time, the nerves weren’t so nervy, I wasn’t such a spaz and I was super happy with the four mile loop we cracked out again. I squeezed in two sprints with Janet and we both agreed we’re ready to try Slow Hares this week. Fleur hung back from the faster group she was running with after tripping over a broken lamppost (SORT IT OUT, HACKNEY COUNCIL) and I got a good chance to learn about her experiences of running half marathons (and stare at her beautiful face) as we ran the last two miles back to 1948. That run was my best yet, aside from all the leery drunk men (there were SO MANY! Why do they all assume that by yelling, “OI, DARLIN’, YOU DON’T NEED TA RUN, YOU’RE GORGEOUS AS YA ARE!” that we’re going to turn around, laugh and flirt girlishly and exclaim that we’d just LOVE to jump into bed with them?). I’m really glad I pushed myself to pick up the pace. I’m nervous about running in Slow Hares this week, but we’ll see how it goes. I’ve got a half marathon to run in less than a month (OMFG!) and I’ve got so much catching up to do.
- Run Dem Crew @rundemcrew
- Charlie Dark @DaddyDark
- Bangs @Bangsandabun
- Candice @CandiceBrownB
- Denis @denisyong
- Mubi @MUMBI_CT
- Dom @dmyrcr
- Elles @broke_grove
- Rhalou @rhalou
- George @wordsoparadise
- Peigh @PEIGH
- Chaka @Chakabars
- Mark @Chopbot
- Fleur @FleurDeGuerre
Last Tuesday night I went to meet Ollie and Denis at the Nike Make It Count exhibition at 1948 in Shoreditch, London. This campaign has been one of my favourites so far and features some of my favourite athletes (Mark Cavendish, Mo Farah and Perri Shakes-Drayton) in a series of black and white images. I wanted to meet the photographer (I like to know what the person creating visuals looks like) and I heard there was going to be a surprise guest athlete (I was hoping upon hope it was Cav - it wasn’t. Bummer).
The reason why this campaign resonates with me is because the imagery, in my opinion, speaks volumes about being an athlete and being a human. The sweat and expression on each of the subjects’ faces shows determination, pride, passion and success. The pictures, focusing on the subject, are gritty, unpolished and powerful and show a lot of integrity. It reminds you of the physical exertion each of the athletes put themselves through to push boundaries of human achievement.
I think the success of this campaign is the focus on the individual that is the athlete - the human part of them. Hopefully this campaign will further secure these individuals in the minds of the general public. I definitely believe that the vast majority of athletes do not get enough funding, especially when you consider the great lengths they go to to represent their nation, so more awareness of their talent and hard graft can only be a good thing.
Although most of the Make It Count campaign athletes are already in the public eye, they are seen from afar, through a great deal of media spin and journalistic flair. With this campaign I think it’s possible to witness something quite special. You aren’t looking at an image of obvious triumph, you’re looking at a close up image of someone who is physically recovering, who has just pushed themselves further than most are capable of. As Adam Hinton (the photographer) explained at the exhibition, their recovery is literally a minute or less (which didn’t give him much time to capture the shots he required), but for that minute that athlete is temporarily exhilarated and exhausted. It’s quite intimate. And you’re staring right into their faces.
The use of the individual’s own handwriting in all capitals further drives the intensity and passion to win that these athletes feel. It’s strangely motivating. I mean, they’re human and so are we, and we know how it feels to be sweaty and out of breath, so if they can push themselves to win medals for Britain, surely we (I) can roll out of bed and push ourselves (myself) to jog around the streets for a few minutes. There’s no medal, but there’s improved health which, arguably, is better than a disc of gold-plated metal on a ribbon.
With athletes such as London’s own Perri Shakes-Drayton, the loveable Mo Farah and my favourite firecracker, Mark Cavendish, representing Great Britain this summer, I know I will be taking more notice of sport than I usually do. If they ever needed one more ‘GOOD LUCK’, this is mine.
#MAKEITCOUNT Perri Shakes-Drayton.
Not that looking beautiful has anything to do with her athletic success, but MAN does she look hot in Lycra! Often highlighted as one of the most humble athletic competitors, her #MAKEITCOUNT pledge really drives home the fact that she’s proud to represent London and the UK.
#MAKEITCOUNT Mark Cavendish.
His speed is nothing short of exciting and I’m looking forward to watching him win this year at the road race and with Great Britain’s Team Sky.
Also, great gurning there, Cav.
No miles clocked.
Guess who’s been slacking off this week? Oh… You don’t look very impressed. Hmmm.
I was supposed to run on Tuesday. Oops. Instead I went to the Nike Make It Count campaign exhibition at 1948 (I feel really strongly about this campaign - I think it’s really powerful). So I think because I went to a sport-influenced exhibition, I can let myself off. No? That excuse isn’t valid? Oh. Well, I was wearing Nike Free Run trainers - at least I was working the muscles in my feet and legs.
Boot Camp yesterday was fun. By fun I mean lots of pain but lots of laughs with the girls. I could never do this on my own, they really make this all a lot easier. The sit ups that I did on Monday night killed my abs and they’re still kind of aching. Add to that an intensive work out with lots of lunges and ab-focused strengthening exercises. FML. Then try a whole day of work. And THEN try going for dinner with a friend who makes you laugh so hard that you can feel each individual abdominal muscle tense and slowly disintegrate as you double over and wipe the tears from your eyes. Now THAT is a (very welcome) work out!
I didn’t run this morning either. Today has apparently been headache season and even after a pint of water, breakfast and Ibruprofen, there was still a dull ache that threatened to be a migraine. Plus it was wet and cold outside and I wanted a 30 minute shower. I forgive myself (that’s right).
This week has been nothing short of shit, if I’m really honest. I missed a dentist appointment on Monday (and I NEVER forget appointments) and then experienced such stress and worry that it has felt like a bad break up. Three days of this has left me feeling drained and all remaining energy is devoted to feeling angry. So please excuse my non-running. But I’ll run tomorrow. I promise.
Four-Miler to Mile End.
So… Guess who ran their first four miler today? Guess! GUESS!
Dahahahahaaa! That’s right, I did. Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t this energetic immediately post-run. In fact I didn’t even manage a victory dance of any sort. I just kind of glared at Bangs for making me run an extra half a block to get back to the start point.
On Friday, after Boot Camp 1.2 (week 1, session 2), Bangs offered to run with me for my Sunday long run. I thought instead of doing my usual routine of running around near where my parents live, giving up far too often, and yelling abuse at my brother, that I would take Bangs up on her offer and called her on Saturday night to arrange everything.
Fab. So, she said we’d do a morning run. As I’m trying to get my early morning groove on now I have this training schedule, I agreed, and when Bangs suggested a 10am start, I suggested an 8:45am meet time and a 9am start.
What really happened is that I woke up at 8:30am and inhaled a bowl of Weetabix (I have mine with honey, what do you have on yours?), washed and threw on my running uniform (I’m still resolutely calling it that). It was like minus four million degrees this morning and I managed to twist my ankle falling off the kerb as I ran laps round my car, spraying de-icer wildly at the windows and scraping off a thick layer of frost. I then got lost on the way to meet Bangs and ended up being almost an hour late. However, that didn’t mean we were cutting any time off our run.
The night before, on the phone to Bangs, I said I was aiming to do two miles, but could probably stretch to three miles, and as long as she didn’t tell me what she was doing, she could trick me into running more. I fully believe that sometimes ignorance is bliss. If I had set out to do four miles this morning, I would have cracked and walked more than I ran.
We basically ran from Westham to Mile End and back. Now, there’s nothing really exciting near where my parents live, but let me tell you what we saw this morning…
The first thing I spotted was a pool of dark brown syrupy liquid that was on the edge of the pavement, spilling over the edge of the curb and spread about a foot into the road. It took me a while to realise that it was blood. No dead man in sight but I definitely vommed a bit in my mouth at this point.
The next thing we came across was a substantial amount of actual vomit on the pavement. Bangs kind of went “weeerrr-oooaaahhhh” and I grabbed her arm and yanked her to get us round it whilst clamping my jaws shut and swallowing the second bit of my own sick. (I should probably mention that I feel nauseous 99.9% of the time when I run so it doesn’t take a lot to throw me over the edge).
The letchy men deserve a shout out. We encountered three fine specimens this morning. I’m telling you, nothing makes you think ‘husband material’ more than an unwashed middle aged man leering at you, saying “hey sexy lady” as you jog past, holding your breath so you don’t catch their lurgies. They do make you run a bit faster to get rid of them though.
There weren’t a great deal of people out at just-past-ten this morning, but there were like a BASPILLION runners. It dawned on me that we are still in the ‘New Year Resolution Mission Get Fit’ period though and a lot of people are also training for the London Marathon and other runs this Spring. Still, that’s a lot of Lycra for a Sunday morning. Yay for you if you did your long run today though! Did you see @RunDemCrew’s callout to the masses to get up and get the week’s long run done?
Anyway, just as it was getting super tough on the way back from Mile End, Bangs said there was something good coming up. I panicked, thinking she was being sarcastic, and expected her to make me run up a steep hill over a flyover. Not so. We came up to a bus stop with the Nike #MAKEITCOUNT campaign poster featuring Mo Farah. I yelled “Mo!” like he was an old friend and it kept me going for another hundred metres. Similarly, a billboard with the Megan Fox for Armarni Code advertisement kept me distracted for a full minute until we had run past it (that new short bob and fringe is hot on her, non?). Last, but not least was the Mastercard advert with the slogan “PRICELESS LONDON”. That made me smile. There’s nothing quite like living in London. And running through it is always entertaining.
Bangs and I finished our run with tea, toast and talks about running and life. As much as she joked on Twitter about distracting me with “unicorns and rainbows” her company and brilliant conversation kept me well entertained and she kept me focused when I needed help. Bangs has taken on a mentoring role to coach me and many others and I bombard her with running questions all the time. She is an asset to my life!
I also had a great chat with Charlie Dark (Run Dem Crew founder and general OG) and got some great advice about my attitude to running and doing this half marathon. There’s nothing like a healthy dose of perspective to get you rolling.
I drove over to my mum’s afterwards for that hot bath I promised myself. I saw a boy jogging up Shooters Hill on the way. WTF?! He was like NINE and he was in a tracksuit and running trainers. What a little G.
Anyway, enough of being talky and boring you senseless. Here’s something for you: