Two nights ago, I ran the Nike ‘We Own the Night’ 10 kilometre run in London, United Kingdom. ‘We Own the Night’ is targeted at women, encouraging health and fitness in a safe and non-competitive environment.
WE. JUST. RUN.
WE ARE GIRLS INSPIRED.
WE OWN THE NIGHT.
IT’S MORE THAN JUST A RACE.
IT’S A MOVEMENT.
I rolled up to Victoria Park in London with my two female friends who cajoled me into entering, and we marvelled at the watertight organisation of the event. There might as well have been giant neon Nike signs directing us to the park. In some places, there really were. Bright green and purple (the race colours) lights illuminated the trees leading up to the park. Feeling like lemmings, we joined the steady stream of girls dressed in neon spandex and the identical turquoise race t-shirt that we were all instructed to wear. We checked our gear bags, danced around to the DJ already spinning beats from the massive festival stage, and went to warm up.
At this point, we began to realise that this event was not about running at all. It was about Nike making money, capitalizing on a discourse of empowerment and health for women by partaking in ‘We Own the Night’. On our way to warm up, we passed two girls decked out in their race gear, downing ice cream from the food carts – with 15 minutes to go before the race start. Everyone was snapping pics with the Nike branding washed over the park and checking out the shopping and photo ops in the Elle tent (a co-sponsor of the event).
Aside from us and one lonely male runner – no one out of the 10,000 entrants warmed up on the park’s track specifically designed for running.
Instead, there was an official warm-up, where instructors decked out in Nike gear on the main stage led the group through a series of aerobics. Ok, a warm-up is good… But since when have aerobics been a preparation strategy for long distance running? When was the last time you saw Mo Farah do aerobics before crossing the start line of a 10k race? I understand the nature of the group event that includes all fitness levels, but if Nike really wanted to empower women to begin and continue to include running in their lifestyles, maybe they should take away the pre-race ice cream cart and teach us how to properly warm up for a running distance that requires a delicate blend of speed and endurance.