Race: Royal Parks Half Marathon: 12th October 2014
Someone once said there is nothing half about the half marathon and I’d have to agree. 13.1 miles is no walk in the park: it’s a relentless race through several parks and around the city – along with 16,000 runners and thousands more cheering supporters.
Of course, the atmosphere makes the run easier and more fun. I had my name printed on my running shirt and regularly heard encouraging shouts of “Go on Gareth”, “Keep going Gareth!” from the sidelines. When I finished the run I did the same for those still running and it’s amazing how many people sped up or began running again when they heard their names. 13.1 miles is just as much a mental challenge as it is a physical one.
This is the most scenic run I’ve done. Even though I live in London and I am very familiar with all of the sites it was still amazing to run through the traffic-free streets. Especially during the beginning of the race when there were fewer supporters, it felt like the opening of 28 Days Later (without the looming threat of zombies).
The race began in Hyde Park (opposite the Royal Albert Hall); across Constitution Hill; passing by Buckingham Palace (alas the Queen wasn’t home to cheer us on); running adjacent to St James’s Park and Green Park; down Birdcage Walk; along Victoria Embankment up to Temple then back towards Westminster again (a tight bend causing many toes to be trodden on I’m sure); under Admirable Arch and down the Mall; back into Hyde Park; into Kensington Gardens; then finally back into Hyde Park for the finish.
There was water and Lukozade stands every three miles. The race was staggered in running ability; Orange (elite runners), Green (intermediate to fast), Blue (beginners to intermediate) and Yellow (people just wanting to finish the race). All runners were given a race number, which came with safety needles to attach to their running shirt/shorts including a chip to detect runners passing through the start and finish line. There was also a running app for runners’ friends and family to track how they were doing (my Mum said it worked very well!) It was generally all very well organised.
In the festival area there was various musical entertainment, including a marching brass band (playing a lot of Abba) and rock choir (with no one under sixty). There was also a food market, retail area and sport sessions (including tennis lessons, climbing and parkour). It all looked very good but I decided to get the bus home for a shower and maybe a quick nap. Turned out the nap came first…
Written by Gareth Brown @GarethBrown26