COLUMNIST: The worst 10k - but the best of human nature

Columnist Gemma Jimmison made it through her first 10k.
Columnist Gemma Jimmison made it through her first 10k.

I’ve done many daft and crazy things in my lifetime - but signing up for a 10k when I’ve never run before probably tops the list.

My chosen torture was the Cancer Research UK Race for Life on Sunday.

The first hurdle to get over was the start time - at 11am on a Sunday morning, I’m usually still asleep. But, having faced that fear and made it to the course on time, I realised I had bigger things to worry about - like the actual race.

I started at the very front of the ‘walkers’ and at the back of the joggers - not quite willing to commit to anything too strenuous but also not wanting to loiter at the back.

Things started off well, I jogged for a short distance and then lapsed into a brisk power walk. I was feeling pleased with how things were going, until I heard the event presenter announce that the first runners were coming past the finish line - shortly after I sauntered past the 2k signpost.

But I carried on speed-walking, with the odd little jog thrown in for good measure. By the time I passed the 5k mark, the serious runners on the frontline were triumphantly crossing the 10k post - not something that made me feel any happier.

Passing the 5k mark also left me green with envy, because the majority of women had signed up for this shorter course. But not me. No, I just had to go one better and sign up for the 10k, despite a serious lack of fitness and a burning dislike of any form of exercise. As the 10k was two laps of the 5k, I could see and hear all the cheers for the finishing women.

By the time I hit 7k, I was hot and bothered - both from my efforts and the heat of the sun. The second lap was much, much quieter - I don’t think many people had signed up for the longer course.

I was cheered on by the hubby and my daughter, a poor deluded five-year-old who actually thought mummy was going to win the race. She was quite distraught that, of course, I did not!

It wasn’t just my mini support party who helped. All along the route, the stewards and volunteers provided encouragement and clapped us on. Younger helpers provided cheerful high fives with over-sized foam hands and, as I crossed the finish line, a group of other participants clapped and cheered me through.

The two women who finished in front of me crossed the line arm in arm, looking like good friends celebrating their achievement. They were, in fact, two women who had never met each other prior to the 8k mark, when they started urging each other on. Another woman, Gail, completed the route just two days after undergoing a mastectomy. What a remarkable achievement.

My efforts bagged £162.50 for Cancer Research UK - money that will go towards finding a cure for this horrible illness, so at least the pain was worth it. And I’m proud that I made it around the course, even if I wasn’t near the front. I might have been left red-faced from the sun and from exertion - but at least it wasn’t from humiliation.