#CheerDemCrew at #MILE21
I can’t remember ever not watching the London Marathon each year. When I was little, my dad used to take me and my brother to his colleague’s house because she and her family lived on the route. We’d cheer for all the speedy elites zipping past and then sprint inside to watch ourselves on tv for that split second. Then for the rest of the morning we’d be back on the roadside cheering and counting chickens, Santas and Batmans. It’s SO EXCITING. I fucking love cheering.
I’m not even kidding. It’s a really emotional experience. You’re really happy for strangers and you’re immensely proud of people you don’t know. You really root for the runners you see struggling and your heart pangs for the ones who limp past you. But seriously, you genuinely make a difference when you read someone’s name from their bib or shirt and scream it at them across the road. They kind of look at you with appreciation and you can sometimes see people smile, grit their teeth and mentally plough through the barrier you just helped them smash. I’m not even being a girl about this, I know guys who really fucking love cheering too.
It’s really not easy to run a long distance race because, although you may have trained for months, nerves and adrenaline can override everything and your pace plan might go out of the window as you get a bit overwhelmed by the huge crowds and all the Serious Runners In Their Short Shorts And Aerodynamic Vests And Very Expensive Technical Trainers. The crowds totally make up for this because they’re excited to see you running past and they want to help you.
Last year, Run Dem Crew were about 60 deep cheering on the roadside at the mile 21 point and so many runners said we were the best thing about the race. You could hear us leading up to our spot and as you ran away towards mile 22. Charlie chose #MILE21 as the best spot because from his experience, that’s the point where it starts getting super serious, super sticky and that wall comes looming up out of nowhere to slow you down. We’re there for that energy boost.
This year, we’re back in the same spot. Mile 21 of the Virgin London Marathon. MILE 21. There are 33 Run Dem Crew members running, including the Youngers that the crew have helped Charlie to mentor and train to run on Sunday. Join us. You won’t miss us. Follow the signs, posters, loud music, loud shouting, the many, many cowbells, the carnival horns and megaphone crowd shout-outs. We will be at Docklands Tyre & Exhausts, 767 Commercial Road, E14 7HG. Know that your support means a lot to a lot of people.
Just putting this out there, you know, in case they’re reading – Richard Branson, this is your sponsored marathon, come and join us!
Mo, when you’re done with your half marathon skip, come join us!
If you’re running this year, good luck and have fun!
Calling the masses.
If you don’t run you must cheer.
@BlackRainbow have released the video from the Bridge the Gap weekend in Paris. Have a look!
Thanks to Jay, Black Rainbow and Paris Running Club for all the fun. Special thanks to Yue, Clemence, Sabrine, Sarah, Karl and Marwa for the extra fun!
New York, post-Sandy, was like a broken hearted friend. There were bright and resilient parts where the atmosphere was tough and excited, then you’d pass through a part of the city where there was still no power and it was like intruding on a private and raw pain. You wanted to make it better and just BE there until they were ok.
I stayed in Brooklyn with Jessie Zapo where there was power, people and parties. Probably a little too much for Grandma Mei. Lower and midtown Manhattan were worst hit by the hurricane and when I cycled through LES (Lower East Side) on Friday morning with Jessie and Anna it was like passing through a scene from a zombie movie. It was eerily quiet; stores closed, barely any pedestrians, a few cars and no traffic lights. If people were driving, the cars moved slowly and cautiously.
That being said, if you know New Yorkers, you know that the storm, if anything, hardened the city spirit and the community was strengthened by the common struggle. Hundreds of people were crossing the bridges over into Brooklyn to buy groceries and charge their phones and the restaurants in Brooklyn on Thursday night were packed and noisy as though it was a Saturday night. And then, of course, Bridge Runners always bring party vibes. You’d never have known that Frankenstorm had just vacated the island.
Even before I left London to fly to the States, I’d been following the news reports and Instagram updates to see how the city was faring after the storm. For a while, I could only see blackout party photos and tweets and my friends out running in the dark in Manhattan. It seemed like genuine fun. There were screenshots of news reports with runners passing behind the correspondents, clearly not budging from their training schedules for the upcoming Sunday NYC marathon because of a bit of wind and rain. Someone even posted a photo of a man doing tricks on a jet ski behind a news correspondent reporting on the storm’s damage.
Then I saw the reports in the days following that covered the aftermath of the storm. Cars were submerged in water on flooded streets and there were burnt houses after an uncontrollable fire. Thousands were evacuated and without water and electricity. Parts of New York City were suddenly thrown into darkness and cycling through Williamsburg on Thursday night, looking over the water to Manhattan, the city skyline was silhouetted against the light from the moon and moonlit clouds behind it. It was surreal. Hands down, it was one of the weirdest experiences of my life because even before I’d ever travelled to America, the lights of New York City were so familiar to me through countless movies and tv shows filmed in the city.
My friends in New York are hardcore and resilient and, despite the struggle, showed Charlie, Bangs, Shameek, Darkz and I a brilliant time. We ate good, we ran (and cycled) good and we partied good.
I’ve dipped in and out of running since summer because I often lose patience for how rubbish I am at it. I never seem to be able to obtain that runners’ high, but it’s people like those whom I travelled to NYC with and the Bridge Runners that keep me wanting to try. Every few weeks I suddenly get a burst of motivation and I find myself in Lycra and running trainers and I work up a sweat pounding London pavement. I saw a physio in September who established that my left leg is shorter than my right as my left side is generally weaker and less developed. This is the reason why I’ve been getting pains in my lower back and legs, especially as my calves are very developed but the muscles in my feet have lost flexibility and my core strength has gone to pot since I stopped ballet five years ago.
So since this makes it a little harder to run regularly without injuring myself again and again (and again), I generally just don’t. But then, as I’ve been running for about a year, when I don’t run I’m very conscious that my heart rate is rarely given a chance to race. So I bought a bike and try to do at least 20 miles a week.
I packed my running kit for NYC but had something rattling in my lungs and everyone knows you shouldn’t exert yourself when you have a chest infection and respiratory problems. The running for the Rebel Run was left to those who are good at it and I tagged along on Jessie’s cruiser. In fact, because the subway was mostly out of use and because I’m not a baller and I can’t afford cabs to take me everywhere, I went everywhere on Jessie’s bike. In two days I racked up 45 miles cycling in Brooklyn, cycling over bridges in and out of the city, from Lower East Side to Midtown and back, from store to store and from one location to a restaurant, etc etc. (FYI, the bridges are WAY steeper on the Brooklyn side and the Willy B will WIPE YOU OUT if you’re not ready for it). I actually fell asleep at dinner after the second day because my body was like “jet lag and 45 miles don’t make sense, you twat”.
When we found out the marathon was cancelled, we were gutted. Runners take other runners seriously, so cheering is literally the best thing you can do if you’re not running the race. I love cheering. I’m really loud and you’ll definitely hear me. I’ll probably wave a banner or a cowbell at you too. It sounds really fucking annoying, but when you’re running a long distance race, people that cheer by the side of the road really pull you though it. The louder, the better. If you’re like me, you’ll go through parts of the race where you want to suffer it alone, but conversely, there’ll be other parts where you really need company and some stranger cracking their voice to scream the name on your race bib is such a heartwarming thing. We were out in NYC to do just that and we felt terrible for all the thousands of runners who have trained for months to be able to run 26.2 miles. We thought it was going to go ahead - it seemed so certain. We couldn’t question the decision to cancel it though. Logistically, siphoning tens of thousands of runners through parts of the city where there had been flooding and no power didn’t make sense. Also, when hundreds of people had lost their houses and people had died, it seemed immoral to stage a marathon when relief was needed to help the disadvantaged get back on their feet. If anything, leaving the decision so late was the most controversial issue. I kind of get it. I mean, the ING NYC marathon pulls in around $300 million every year, mainly because of the people travelling into the state to run or to support the runners. That’s money the city needs after a natural disaster, but it’s still not SAFE.
Anyway, with no marathon, the Bridge Runners got together with the Orchard Street Runners and staged a 13.1 mile race on Sunday over three of the bridges, ending at Bowery Stadium on the LES. Race entry was bottles of water and cans of food and any charitable items that runners could bring.
I had a great time this past weekend, hanging with friends, making new ones, meeting MIA and speaking to New Yorkers about their city. Occasions such as this give you great opportunities to learn more about the people we share time with and society itself. It gives you the chance to learn new perspectives and to strengthen your own character as you see the resilience of those around you.
Thank you to the Bridge Runners for these lessons and opportunities. I love all of the experiences I’ve been privileged enough to have come across through meeting you all and your company is some of the best in the world. There’s no two ways about it.
Thank you also to Sasha for being a lady who looks after ladies. That’s important and an often under-appreciated attribute to be in possession of. It was a pleasure to spend time with you.
Thanks to Darkz and Shameek for always running and always being excited about everything. It reminds me to take my head out of the clouds and put my feet in my running shoes.
Thank you lastly, but not leastly, to Charlie and Bangs for being who you are and helping me to be who I am.
I led this group of ladies and gentleman on a four mile route over bridges this evening. First run back after MONTHS and Charlie puts me in charge of a group. FML. As if my nerves weren’t already on hyperdrive!
From 1948 we ran down over London Bridge, headed along South Bank and came up over Tower Bridge (THEY’VE TAKEN DOWN THE OLYMPICS SIGN!!!), taking Bishopsgate and part of Shoreditch High Street, before sprinting down Bateman’s Row.
It was my first long run since New York and my first run back with Run Dem Crew in nearly 4 months. I thought it would be tougher, but as I was leading, I could take a really easy pace. I ended up running a little faster than I used to, so the occasional cycling has definitely paid off and I feel really good right now.
My shins feel a tiny bit bruised again, but I’ll see how I feel in the morning.
The two mile run I did on Friday night broke me in again and I’m happy to say that I think I’m getting better at this. I took on board the advice the physio gave to me (more on that soon) and thought of Jessie Zapo’s light running style to keep my technique in check.
I didn’t die and I didn’t lose (my mind or) any of the group!
Right now I’m super happy!
Robin flew into London and once again left instagram in a whirlwind and took the city by storm. I love her company and nearly lost my shit when I realised that the “basketball event for women” she had invited myself and Bangs to was actually a real life, actual OLYMPIC EVENT at the OLYMPIC PARK. OMG. OMG. OMG. AND it was to watch TWO heats, INCLUDING Team USA, featuring real life, actual WNBA players. OMAG.
It was incredible to watch four teams of closely bonded women dominate the court and play on an international (not to mention Olympic-) scale. There were a few players on each team, like Seimone Augustus (Team USA) and Antonija Misura (Croatia), that I found myself impressed with for their beauty, their strength and the beauty IN their strength.
I have a thing for strong women. Strength that is physical or mental, or both. I always feel drawn to learn from them and I actively seek their advice.
Many of the women in my life are like this and have been phenomenal role models. I learn about hard graft, generosity and modesty from my mum; a sense of self, mental strength, confidence, grace, business-thinking and professionalism from Malee; motivation, perseverance, realistic goal-setting and prioritising from Bangs; determination and not accepting bullshit from Anjelica; physical strength and loyalty from Gabriella; and patience and consistancy from Laurel. This is like the tiniest list in the world, realistically speaking, as there are so many attributes to each of these women. I’m just highlighting those attributes that I love and feel that I have absorbed, or that maybe I already had but have developed to make me more successful in my actions. In short, they help me to learn more about me. Meeting women like Jessie, Robin, Crystal, Anna, Mali and Lynette from NY has added to this list in a more physical way, and I have found these connections invaluable in regards to my own attitude to health and being active.
Each of these women have been dynamic in my life, some of whom have known me since I was born, one since we were both 13 and rolling our skirts as high as possible in secondary school and some that I’ve met in the last 2 or 3 years. I think the existence of identified role models in your life makes it easier to set goals and therefore easier to achieve ambitions. I wanted to cross the finish line of a half marathon and Bangs got me there, contributing to that success a hell of a lot more than she is probably aware of. Jessie and Robin make me want to be a better athlete, which, if I’m perfectly honest, is the most remarkable turnaround for someone like me who previously would not bother to leave the sofa unless it was for a change of environment (moving to sit in front of a computer screen).
What this year’s Olympics has made me realise is the invaluable presence of women like Jessica Ennis, Paula Radcliffe and Victoria Pendleton to name but a few. In the last few years, in the build up to these international competitions, I have noticed a phenomenal shift in regards to women’s participation in sport. Sports Luxe has been all shouty (yet often in a very dignified manner) on catwalks for several seasons now, contributing to sportswear being ‘cool’ for women again. For someone like myself, who is NEVER out of trainers and menswear, I’ve always noticed other girls in sports shoes, and in the last few years there has been a huge surge of girls and women wearing trainers for fashion. The Evening Standard asked me my opinion on this once (not as random as you’d think, my friend Emma McCarthy - yet another tenacious and talented woman - writes for their fashion segment). Now, hopefully, after this summer’s events, the trainers will be put to use and they will be ran in, trained in, danced in and perhaps competed in.
I’m definitely acting on this current wave of motivation.
I’d also like to give props to the male mentor figures in my life, of which, of course, there are just as many and are obvz just as important. in particular, my dad’s generosity is second-to-none(-other-than-my-mum) and, for such an impatient man, I sometimes marvel at his great patience over the years. My brother, Chris, is way better than you at anything you ever hoped to be good at (by you, I mean me), and continuously (infuriatingly) strives to better every action. More than anything though, for such a young person, he is a brilliant teacher (although he’s pretty impatient too, come to think of it) and he’s really funny (which is tres important in life). Also featuring in my male-role-model-mini-list is Charlie Dark. More awesome than newspaper articles lead you to believe, he has quietly, yet effectively, helped me hone my perception over the past year and has, therefore, changed my life. His opinion, to me, is worth more than gold.
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.