London celebrates as record numbers finish Vitality London 10,000
27 May 2019, 3:30 p.m.
More than 19,000 runners finished the Vitality London 10,000 today (Monday 27 May) meaning the 12th edition of the capital’s annual celebration of road running was the biggest yet by a huge margin.
A record 19,465 had crossed the iconic Finish Line in front of Buckingham Palace by 14:00 this afternoon - that’s some 5,000 more finishers than in 2018 when a record 14,475 ran the famous course from St James’s Park to the City and back.
Among the unprecedented numbers who conquered the scenic route were nearly 700 women who ran the entire course in their underwear to support the ‘Celebrate You’ campaign kicked off by journalist Bryony Gordon and mental health advocate Jada Sezer.
The pair ran the Virgin Money London Marathon in bra and pants last year to celebrate women’s bodies and boost the confidence of women of all ages, shapes and sizes.
Today they jogged slowly through London’s sunbathed streets, encouraging runners and enjoying applause from the huge crowds before crossing the line hand-in-hand, surrounded by dozens of their fellow women.
“It was emotional, really incredible,” said Sezer afterwards. “We just want to show that anyone can do this, whatever their size or shape. People have turned out for us in their thousands. It’s amazing.
“It’s empowering to show the world that these are our bodies and we are proud of them.”
“It was great to do it with so many other women,” added Gordon. “It was not about getting a time, it’s about having fun and showing that we don’t need to be ashamed of the way we look.”
It was a message endorsed by Britain’s 2012 Olympic heptathlon champion, Dame Jessica Ennis-Hill, who started the races this morning and greeted the Celebrate You founders at the Finish Line some three hours later.
“They are so brave,” said Ennis-Hill, an ambassador for race sponsors Vitality. “I wouldn’t run half-naked round my house and they’ve run round London in their knickers.
“It’s an amazing campaign and so important for women’s body confidence. Hats off to them.”
Heidi Gowthorpe, a 26-year-old folk rock musician from Camden, was just one of those who’d been spurred to take up running by Gordon and Sezer’s inspiring call.
“Twelve weeks ago I couldn’t run for five minutes and now I’ve just run 10K in my underwear. It’s beyond awesome,” she said, her first name emblazoned across her backside in keeping with the Celebrate You style.
“I hate running, I’m asthmatic, I’ve never done anything like this before, and yet I’ve done 10K in under an hour.
“It’s so important for us women to take back our bodies and show that we don’t all look like supermodels, and that’s OK. It’s amazing to see so many of us – all sizes, colours, shapes and sorts.”
All ages too. Another Celebrate You runner was 70-year-old fashion designer Esme Young of the BBC’s Great British Sewing Bee, who’d designed and printed a set of long white T-shirts featuring black lacey underwear.
“I didn’t want to run in my actual underwear but I wanted to make a statement,” she said. “This meant I could run in something that really looks like a lacey bra and knickers.
“I’m not a runner but I walk a lot. I’ve never done an event like this before but I just wanted to support the campaign.”
Participation may have been the theme of the day but earlier it was all about performance as the elites of British distance running battled it out in the British 10K road race championships.
No British distance runner is more elite than Sir Mo Farah, of course, and the four-time Olympic champion duly wrapped up his seventh Vitality London 10,000 title after a tough tussle with fellow British international Andy Butchart, who won in 2015 and 2016.
Farah crossed the line in 28:15, some 13 seconds ahead of Butchart, while Steph Twell retained the women’s title with a convincing victory in a personal best of 31:55.
Daniel Sidbury and Shelly Woods both made it two wins in two days as they added the British 10K wheelchair titles to their Vitality Westminster Mile victories from Sunday afternoon.
At the end, Ennis-Hill summed up the event when she said: “It has been an amazing day. Everybody was just loving it. The weather was great, the numbers were huge and everyone was going for their goals.
“What better setting is there than this, finishing in front of Buckingham Palace? It’s all so inspiring.”
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The 2020 Vitality London 10,000 will take place on bank holiday Monday 25 May.