Saturday 3rd July saw the UK’s first UK Run for Congo, as part of the Regent’s Park 10km series. This was the first time a Run for Congo race had been held in the UK following their enormous success in the US. It seems like many in the UK were chomping at the bit to be a part of these races to show their solidarity with women in the Congo. Out of the nearly 400 odd runners, those representing run for Congo amount for over a third of them, raising a staggering £19,000 for women in the DRC.
The conditions couldn’t have been better, the sun was shining and a cool breeze was running through the air. Prior to the race there was a relaxed yet excited vibe amongst the runners, with there being a good mixture of club runners and people attempting their first 10km race.
The race began just after 9am, creating a snake of runners streaming through the paths of Regents Park. From walking around the course before the race, it appeared that it was relatively flat, however, as the kilometers ticked over it seemed that those gentle inclines were longer and steeper than first appeared!
With the race extremely well marshaled and sign-posted this allowed the runners to concentrate on their stride as they attempted to break personal bests and compete against their fellow runners. With the race taking in 3 laps of regents park, this provided all the runners with a real boost as they ran passed the finishing straight, where the crowds began to swell much to the delight of those streaming passed.
The race itself was comfortably won by Glenn Saqui in 33 minutes and 51 seconds, an extremely impressive time. But it will be remember for it being the first UK Run for Congo. It was an impressive sight seeing 100 runners wearing Run for Congo t-shirts as they lined up for a photo prior to the race and then spotting the Run for Congo runners sprinting round regents park, driven on by their desire to support women in the DRC.
It is always a special occasion when people take on their first race, but it adds something a little bit special when you appreciate that many of the runners today wouldn’t have taken part but for the desire to show their support for the vulnerable women and children in the Congo.
A special mention should go to the lads that decided to take on the cause for this women’s charity. People like Jonathan Tanner, who would admit he’s not much of a runner, had been training for months for this day, and will use it as a spring board for the London Triathlon in August – Jonathan recorded a PB of 57 minutes for the race. Whilst Lachlan McKenzie and Will Hardy, who both struggle with asthma, completed the race in 48 and 52 minutes respectively. Seeing women and men, both young and old taking part in this race was a special sight and just added to the occasion.
Kate Hughes from Women for Women International who had been instrumental in organising the race in Regents Park completed it in 56 minutes, and I’m sure once she gets her breathe back and gives her legs a rest, she’ll be busy answering many emails and calls asking her when the next Run for Congo will be.
It was a fantastic race and was given extra poignancy following the crash of an oil tanker in the DRC on Friday evening which caused over 250 deaths. The continuing conflict and uncertainty in the region, highlight the need to continue to support and be aware of the difficulties that women, children and men face on a daily basis in the Congo. This may have been the first Run for Congo, but I am sure that it wont be the last…