Four IWRR’s took off to the Big Smoke to run the Royal Parks Half Marathon – a ballot run which Garry and Bridget were lucky to secure their places through, with Tim and myself securing our places through the Love Running Tuesday Nighters charity auction.
Bridget and I had both been plagued by injuries in the weeks leading up to the event, therefore given our minimal training, it was fair to say that they both had one thing to prove – and that was just crossing the finishing line. Time was irrelevant, we just both set out to enjoy the experience and absorb the atmosphere. For Garry and Tim, both have been running well lately, therefore it was elbows out, here we come….
For myself – despite running this event for the past two years, I really wanted to take it all in, see how far I could run before the need to start run/walking and forget about times, PB’s and pace. I was the last of the foursome to start, running out of Hyde Park and through Wellington Arch is pretty special, before you hit the first mile and a nice decline through Green Park and Constitution Hill. Here I saw Garry running back up Constitution Hill – he was at 5 miles, me at 1 mile (he did start way before me), I blew him a kiss and we high fived, and I could tell he was loving life at this point.
The route continues past Buckingham Palace and St. James’s Park, out to Westminster Abbey and Big Ben, with views of the London Eye, which is where I caught Bridget which gave us both a boost with words of encouragement. Along Whitehall past the Cenotaph, it’s quite something watching runners bow their heads in respect as they run past. Out along the Strand before heading back to Trafalgar Square, past Nelson’s column and through Admiralty Arch towards The Mall and Buckingham Palace – possibly my favourite part of the run. I said hello to a Ventnor Slogger and headed up the Mall towards the magnificent sight of Queen Victoria and the Palace, which had a choir singing nearby. Back up Constitution Hill to Kate Bush’s, Running Up That Hill” being blasted out, which made me chuckle as the event organisers really need to come to the IOW! Back round Wellington’s Arch and into Hyde Park for the last 8 miles of the race.
Hyde Park is beautiful at this time of the year – with the autumnal colours and the sun shining down. The remainder of the course is wiggly but gives runners the opportunity to see each other at different points on the course. It was lovely to see Abbie Keyte at mile 6, think I was still enjoying the running aspect at this stage!
I knew when I hit mile 8 that I was going to start to struggle – training for a half marathon really does help, and all I could do was pull on every bit of running experience I could muster. It was hot, it was muggy, but the sights of the Serpentine Fountains, Kensington Palace, Prince Albert’s Memorial and the Royal Albert Hall were more than enough to spur me on to the finish with a run/walk approach.
Running past Prince Albert’s Memorial to a choir singing Abba’s Dancing Queen, with half a mile go made me smile, as did the roar of “Sharpie” at 400 meters before the finish, which ended up being Abbie, Garry and Tim. I broke out into the biggest grin, it was just what I needed at that point. What an amazing course and amazing event, if you ever get the chance to do it, go for it.
Once we’d all finished, Garry said “I really enjoyed that, and think I favour Royal Parks Half Marathon over London Landmarks. I really tried to take in all the sights today rather than going out full blast – it was brilliant”.
Report by Sarah Sharp.
Bridget and Tim also enjoyed the race. Bridget said “I loved it, it was hard but I’m so pleased to have ran my furthest distance since the London Marathon and I’m feeling very proud of myself”. (And so you should Bridget).