I’m actually going to review this race. I finished in 1:47:31 and 25th in my age category (191st overall). It was tough-ish following a boozy lunch with friends, but as a final long-ish run in a race environment, I was pretty happy with my run. I kept calm, did not go mad. My legs got a little sore, nothing too bad, but I need to focus on nutrition, some short sessions and rest for the next two weeks.
The race started and finished at Barn Elms Sports Centre in South West London. As the location was a 20 walk from the nearest train station, I decided to drive. The car park was full and getting blocked up due to congestion. Luckily, I got out of the car park in time and found a parking space on a street, but still about 10 minutes away.
The race setup was a playing field with a number of gazebos, for number pick up, the DJ/Public announcer and bag drop. My number collection went without incident. The pinning on of my number was the faff that it always is. The weather was still pretty cold, so I went with a long sleeved compression top under my London Marathon Water Aid vest I was testing out.
The toilets were in a couple of changing rooms that didn’t look so inviting due to their condition and the queue. I used the trees alongside the tennis courts, then dropped my bag off, which was well manned and looked like they were organising the bags in number order. A little jog around the football pitch was my warm up and gave the organised warm up a miss. I always feel like a bit of an idiot at mass warm-ups, even though there are 500 other surrounding me doing the same this. My British repressed-ness!
The organisers called the runners to the start in predicted time order and many seemed to respect this as not many moved for the 1 hrs 45 min predicated finish time. I ended up in the middle of the field, which is where I finished.
The race was time chipped and I made sure I stamped on the mat to try and make sure it registered. After about 200m the course took four 180 degree switchbacks up and down the playing field (slightly annoying) and then out around a few streets and Barnes Common, then onto the River Thames passed the rowing clubs to Putney.
The two lap course took in bits of Fulham, Putney Bridge, around the outskirts of Fulham’s Craven Cottage Football ground, back on to the river, over Hammersmith Bridge, back onto the Tideway along the river the other way and back to the playing field.
It was a pretty interesting course, the terrain changed from grass to road to trail footpath. The views also changed – common land with trees to rivers to little shopping streets to major bridges. It kept me guessing and trying to work out where I was, which is helpful when running for nearly 2 hours.
Disturbing other runners?
One thing I did think about on my run was – other runners out for a run but not doing the race. Does the fact that there is a race going on along their bit of the river they run on every Sunday, piss them off? You’re having an easy run and a line of heavy breathers on PB missions come haring past you disturbing your peaceful “you” time.
I would kinda be in two minds. A bit pissed off, that “my” route is being used and “my” space being taken, but also I understand that not all races can be held on closed roads and that many races are community or running club led that benefit each. Also, fair play to those runners, putting themselves out there in a race. Yeah.
There were a few points in the race where runners and the public came “face to face”. People stood at a Bus Stop meant I had to jump in the road at one point and I dodged a few pedestrians, but nothing too bad. The majority of the public are thoughtful and obliging while giving you a little smile and a cheer.
I cut off the River Thames back into the playing field and thought, not long now – straight to the finishing arch, there’s no way they will run us through those 180 degree switchbacks. I was wrong, they were. This time it was highly annoying and at every turn you see the faces of the people trying to catch you!
I collected my medal and helped my self to a banana and an Orange club biscuit/chocolate bar (the ones you had as a kid in the UK). The medal was strange. The ribbon was not fed properly through the medal. The ribbon looks like it’s actually a lanyard which was attached through the medal then fed through itself to attached it. Not very impressed!
I collected my bag that was quick and well manned then headed to my car.
The race is at a well placed time in the running calendar, as I’m sure many like me had a half marathon on their training plan. Its well located geographically for those in south west and west London, although a little way from public transport. The organisation was good (number collection, bag drop, timings and chip time results) attracted 500 runners. The course was interesting and if the switchbacks to get the distance correct can be sorted, it will be good. For my first Run UK event, I was impressed. The atmosphere needs to be worked on, but you need numbers for that and this was a fairly low key event.