adidas have made some bold claims this year. If you launch a product and tell the World that it’ll give them the best something – in this case, a shoe that will give you “your greatest run ever” – then you better deliver on your promise. The good news for runners everywhere is that adidas is pulling out the stops in 2015 to prove it. Why do I think this?
Exhibit A: The Energy Takeover
Apart from a brief but nicely created video, there was little fanfare surrounding the launch of the Energy Takeover. It was a 10km race in London on 25 March. That’s all we knew. Race packs arrived in the post; emails were received with scant details. Even as we left the house on our way to deepest darkest “Sarf” London we had no idea what we had signed up to. It was proper cloak and dagger stuff. We loved it.
Arriving at event HQ, a carwash by day and god-only-knows by night, we were excited to see a group of around 200 runners all dressed in the provided black and yellow race shirts. Music boomed, wristbands were acquired and running shoes were swapped for brand new Ultra Boosts. Yep. We got new shoes. The word on everyone lips? “Could we keep em?”
As we filed into designated pens according to the colour of our wristbands – blue for me, yellow for Claudia – we still had no idea what we were doing. We chatted excitedly with other members of AR and runners we knew. We pimped ourselves to photographers, we had photos taken with Tom and Ben from Runfast; Ben was a Ugandan International and had won the Wilmslow Half only a few days previous. We lapped it up. Was this going to be “our greatest run ever”? I dunno but we were pretty pumped.
After a brief resetting of the race clock to accommodate latecomers, the count down began and the shutter doors ahead of us slowly opened. 5-4-3-2-1 and we were off. Yellow and Pink turning left out of the arches, Blue turning right and like ‘bats out of hell’ racing into the night.
My sore calf, which has been plaguing me for three weeks, ached as we pushed the pace down Who Knows Where Road. While I hadn’t exactly envisaged it being a real race, it was clear that some had. I chatted casually to James at RunFast as we scanned lampposts for blue fingers signs that would direct the way. Turn left, 200m later, turn right. We twisted, we turned. We ran like we’d stolen something (we hadn’t I promise). I soaked up the joy running fast in the City I call home.
Three or four kms later we ran past the Oval and we got split at the lights; James and some of the fast guys flying right past a finger sign pointing the opposite way. I shouted. They disappeared into the night. Damn! I guess we’d see them later.
From then on the race was a rush. A few other runners joined me to form a group of four of five. We ran through the ground of the Oval, through a nightclub and a pub. No time for stopping, no time for beers. The breathing was heavy. We shared concerns over missed signs, that the pace was too fast, that we had gone wrong. My calf ached. Suck it up buttercup.
And then it happened. Around 8km, this dude blew past us like we were standing still. It was Tom from RunFast; 2:17 marathon runner and all round speed freak. He gracefully disappeared into the distance, weaving through traffic lights and waiting cars. There are times in life when you can nothing more than watch; this was one of them. 30 seconds later he was out of sight.
We could do nothing to answer Tom’s turn of pace so we simply ran on. A blue finger sign point straight on. And another. As we got closer to Vauxhall I knew the finish was not far off. In the distance I could just about make out an adidas sign. That MUST be the finish. Not being the best sprinter, I turned up the pace. Turn the thumbscrews I thought. Don’t get beaten in the last 50.
Barriers appeared in the distance. I ran harder. My calf hurt. As I approached the finish line, I didn’t look behind. I was sure I was clear. Turning into the redundant petrol station, decorated in full Energy Takeover livery I was joined by Tom for a fake sprint to the finish. I looked around, was I really second back?
Over the next hour we watched runners come in. Most with stories of extra miles, getting lost, or how they met Stuart Broad in the Oval. We drank beer and ate sandwiches. Friends who we didn’t know were running appeared from the darkness. Slightly sweaty and smiling madly. Just the way we like them.
On the way home we talked manically. Fervent, chatter. The way runners do after a race.
“Did you go through the wrong door in the Oval?”
“I took water in the nightclub but I didn’t want it, why did I do that?”
“I can’t believe I ran 14km!”
Was this the ‘greatest run ever’? Does it really matter? The folks at adidas certainly put on a show. OK we could have started on time and the bag check in/out could have been slicker but that’s true of other races I have paid serious money for. Minor grumbles aside it’s certainly one of the best Wednesday night runs I’ve had in a long time. It was a different way to run a race and in my opinion better than the standard 10km. I love the idea of not knowing the route, where the finish is, how fast you should run when the end isn’t known. What do you think?
And finally, the big question on everyone’s lips: Did we get to keep the Ultra Boost shoes? What do you think?
And if you want to see what is was all about…see below