Last night the inaugural JP Morgan Corporate Challenge race took place in Shanghai, a 5.6 km race along the bank of the Huangpu river in Xuhui district. Spil Games Asia is a sportive company, so we participated with a team of 10 people in the run.
The event was a bit bigger than I had imagined, in total over 3000 runners showed up at the start! I am in pretty good shape right now because of the New York Marathon that I will run in 2 weeks, but I did not train for fast shorter distances, so I had no real expectations about running a good race.
My dad also ran the race and both of us managed to get to the very front of the pack at the starting grid. In China even the slow runners try to start from the front, so it’s important to fight for your position, otherwise you’ll lose valuable time right at the start already. Judging from their looks we were surrounded by other potentially fast runners but also by a lot of guys who had clearly never participated in a short race before (drinking cans of Red Bull right before the start is not a very smart strategy).
After the obligatory speeches the start was 4 minutes earlier than planned, not a bad thing if you’re in the middle of a crowd. As usual most people started running very fast right from the start, but because the first 300 meter were uphill (up a bridge) many of them were already exhausted by the time they reached the top. My dad and I took it easy and let quite some people pass on the first few hundred meters. I felt great and sped up when we reached the top of the bridge, but then I noticed that my dad was not following. So I slowed down to see where he was, and even ran backwards for a short while to see if something had happened. It turned out he was fine but my speed was just too fast for him right from the start.
He told me to just run my own race, and after thinking about if for a few seconds I decided to go for it. I immediately started passing a lot of people and started to get closer to the front of the pack. One guy was much faster than the rest and there was a big gap between him and the others after the first kilometer already. I felt good and settled at a speed of about 15 km/h, continuously passing people.
When we passed the second bridge I had about 15 people still ahead of me, but it was a bit hard to count them exactly because the field was now spread out. I decided not to speed up anymore, mainly because I didn’t wear my GPS watch and didn’t know how far we still had to run (I didn’t find kilometer markers either, maybe I missed them?). I kept on passing a few people and running still felt great. I thought I still had another 1.5 km ahead of me when I suddenly saw the 5 km sign. I couldn’t believe it, only 600 meters to the finish, I thought it was still much farther!
So I immediately started sprinting and passed another 2 people before finishing in 22:44 (according to the clock above the finish line). I thought I was within the top 10, but this morning I received the official results and saw that I was only number 11. Strangely my official finishing time was 22:51, different from the picture above taken right after I passed the finish line. Coincidentally, the number 9 of the race had an official time of 22:45, so I wonder if anything went wrong there. But whatever happened, I am happy with this result.
My dad also ran a great race, he passed the finish line in 24:23, only 1:30 behind me. He was 41st overall, an amazing result considering that he was the oldest runner! He also did not seem too tired, he saw it more as a training and did not overdo it.
My family had not expected us to be so quick, and Grace almost missed taking a picture of me. She was trying to take a picture of a boat when she suddenly saw me running in the final stretch to the finish already. Also the kids probably did not see me, but for them the whole atmosphere was interesting enough already.
After the run we picked up our goodie bags (t-shirt, Gatorade, banana) and then waited for the Spil Games Asia colleagues to come in. We found a nice bench in the hospitality area where we had pizza and beers with the colleagues and talked about the run.
Scott and Elaine enjoyed all the attention they got, they had a very nice time. When it got dark it got a bit cooler as well, so we took a group picture and then we went our separate ways. It was a cool event, maybe I’ll join again next year!