Smile, it’s only a mile!
by Grace Newbould

My first ever mile (race) – The Butetown Mile

Ahhh, the mile. We do a lot of them as runners, often 3 on a Saturday as part of parkrun, a couple of 5/6 milers during the week and the odd 10 or so on a Sunday for a leisurely long run. I’ve been running for a few years now and have been known to sign up for most things at the drop of a hat, but a mile had never featured, until now. The Butetown Mile is exactly that, a straight 1 mile run along Bute Street down to Cardiff Bay. Cardiff is one of only three places in the world to host a straight mile road race alongside Fifth Avenue, New York and the Champs-Elysees, Paris!  Andrea J. had signed up as well as some other regulars from Grangemoor parkrun. I found out that the race was on part of my usual Sunday route and, since it was just £5 to enter, it seemed rude not to! After all, it’s only a third of a parkrun.

As usual, my race prep was bang on:

  1. Ask for advice and thoughts on race from previous entrants: “A mile? Oh it’s horrible. I’ve done it three years running”, “Eyeballs out and hang on”, “The mile? I don’t really like thinking about it [runs away screaming]”.
  2. Take it easy the day before by doing the Llantwit Major 10k in the blazing hot sun, drink some cider whilst the other finishers come in and forget to put sunscreen on, resulting in some funky sunburn.
  3. Hydrate properly by having a few rum and gingers in Penarth the night before with Mr Newbould.
  4. Forget that all your running leggings are in the wash and therefore you will have to get your legs out in your very fetching running short shorts that you reserve only for sports massages and runs in extreme heat.

One bit of advice I did take was to get a few miles under your belt first before racing, so I jogged leisurely over the Barrage in the morning sun, even doing some strides as I went. I picked my number up, had a natter with some other runners and then watched the leggy elites go off at 11.00. At 11.15, the ‘fun run’ started. I was part of this fun run, but I soon found out that the ‘fun’ element was slightly misleading as the race turned out like this:

11.15 [starter horn goes]: Off like a rocket- don’t burn out in 200m like those pesky kids in front of me!
11.16: My legs are slowing, the kids are actually doing really well but it’s not too bad, it’s only a mile.
11.17: Ooh, I’m still 3rd woman.
11.18: Ooh wait, not anymore.
11.19: Why I am doing this? This is grim.
11.20: How long now? MY LEGS ARE SO DAMN TIRED.
11.21: Is that the finish? Move your legs Grace and KICK!
11.22: Urgh, that was horrible. When can I sign up again?

Seven minutes of pure pushing and it was over, but as the others still continued to roll over the finish line I discovered the real pleasure of the Butetown Mile. Little kids really pushing themselves, people of all ages, levels of fitness and ethnicities having a real stab at it along with the elites who stormed it 15 minutes earlier. Every single person was clapped in and as time went on, those at the back got the biggest cheers. This really was community running at its best.

Although it was one of the most uncomfortable races that I’ve run, I’d totally do it again! After all, it’s only a mile. And it’ll be fun, right? Over super quick too? How bad could it be, after all it’s only a third of a parkrun….


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