The series goes Euro with Run Dem Crew
"The crowd was crazy, there was confetti everyrwhere. I saw Charlie Dark from Run Dem and gave him a high 5 before I pushed as hard as I could to the finish. It was an amazing way to finish a race”.
It’s just after 9pm on a Friday night in London, and Victoria Ford is cheered to victory by hundreds of runners and supporters from London and all around the world.
We’re at Leake Street Arches, which is basically a tunnel under the Waterloo train station, and hosts bars and restaurants, alongside tonight’s guests - NYC based Take The Bridge.
TEMPO readers might remember TTB from this feature on the Manhattan Bridge in 2018, but if you need a refresher - think unsanctioned night racing with checkpoints but no set course, sold out race fields, and a collision of arts, culture, music, and community.
It’s marathon weekend in London, and as with all the majors, there’s a full calendar of events to distract people from the nerves of Sunday’s race. There are pop ups, athlete appearances, and shake out runs, but there’s nothing like Take The Bridge.
And while TTB is unmistakably the product of Darcy Budworth and her NYC team, they’ve partnered with juggernauts Run Dem Crew to bring this one to life. I sit with Budworth the next morning for coffee and she explains how integral their local partners have been, both on the night and in the lead up.
"I wasn’t sure what the response would be like for TTB in London, but I think I underestimated just how large a presence Run Dem Crew has, and Charlie in particular.
Also Victoria Ford, I give her a lot of credit for making sure the women’s race sold out so quick.”
And while Run Dem Crew showed out in full force, the TTB event was truly ground zero in London for crew runners from all over the world, creating a rowdy yet welcoming atmosphere for competitors.
“It’s important to me that we have positive energy at our races. I think sometimes these races can be intimidating or people feel like they have to be a ‘fast runner’, but I'm about everybody lifting everybody else up.
Everybody's welcome, it doesn’t matter how fast you are. You’re running your fastest, whatever that is.”
That spirit of inclusion and celebrating each runner is on display all night on Friday. As runners come down the final straight to the finish through a tunnel of fans, each one of them is cheered home like they're breaking a world record, whether they're first or last.
Following a hotly contested men's race, won by Run Dem Crew local Oskar Jönsson, it's time for what could be dubbed the main event - the women's race. By 9pm when the women start, there is undoubtedly a different vibe - it's now completely dark outside, the tunnel itself is heaving as more and more spectators arrive and the guys are hyped after their race, and patrons from the bars within Leake Street Arches step out to see just what all this noise is about.
The crowd moves as one from the Arches to the start line just under the London Eye, as the 30 women get ready to throw down. There's competition for sure, but for Budworth, just getting to this point is a massive victory.
"In the early days it was hard to get women to sign up for these races. Whether they were intimidated or out of their comfort zone, it was a massive leap of faith for a lot of women to sign up, and then actually turn up to race. Not anymore."
"These women are fucking awesome and we should celebrate what they're doing"
As Victoria Ford comes through the tunnel to take the win, the place is going bananas, even more so than it was for the earlier race.
"The energy is different for the first and second race. I think there’s more cheering, more vibes for the second race. The second race feels more elevated."
On the Friday night before the marathon, when these out-of-towners and locals alike could be resting up, foam rolling, and getting ready for the race on Sunday, they're instead drawn to this event, to this community. To run basically around the block in a race that people who weren't there won't care about.
But it's more than that, on this night and always. It's being part of something new, of building a culture that supports different ways of thinking and welcoming unfamilar faces.
As much as this night is an eye-opener, in many ways it isn't - Run Dem Crew and Take The Bridge are two huge voices in their communities for a reason.
So, you want to tear up a bridge at the next event? I ask Budworth for the scoop on where they're planning to hit in the future.
"There’s a list of cities that are close, like 75% to happening, and it’s a long list. Not all of them are in the US, either.”