When I initially signed up to this race I was really looking forward to it, but a few weeks of knee/calf pain had me less excited about the race and more hopeful I could just get through it!
After missing the bus I was supposed to get, I managed to get another one which terminated at Hackney Central and I walked the 25 minutes to the start. There was a good buzz in the air, and the sun was already beating down. I met up with a few of the lovely TNR girls beforehand before losing them when I went off to the enormous toilet queues. Thankfully I made it in time for the start in what was a very congested and disorganised start pen. Thankfully it didn’t take too long to get across the start line.
I wasn’t sure whether or not to run with my Camelbak, I feel better running with it, and knowing I have electrolytes, but I was conscious of how hot it makes my back, so I went without it which in reflection was a mistake. I took some Vega gels with me, and just had one around mile 7, it was disgustingly warm and did not go down well in the heat.
I don’t really remember much about the opening miles, other than the fact that my legs weren’t feeling good, particularly on any slight inclines, and that it was very very hot. I set off in line with PB pace for the first two miles, but it was so hot that I decided to reign it back in. I didn’t want to risk pushing too hard and I hadn’t done any training for this either. After the second mile I eased up and hung on to a steady pace between 9.20-9.45 for the remainder of the race.
We wound past the sights of Hackney, with quite vocal support along the route. I was using the water stations as goals in my mind, trying to take as much on board from those ridiculous squeezy water pouches and cooling myself down with the remainder. The water station tables were a bit short leading to a bit of congestion at each one.
From pretty early on in the race there were a lot of runners needing medical attention. It was extremely hot, I don’t think I’ve ever run in conditions like that before, and it really took it’s toll on many. I was really feeling it by the halfway point, and the thought of only being half way was painful to take. My feet were absolutely on fire, and there was just no breeze or shade on the route to escape the beating sun. I think it was about 24 degrees, and the humidity made it feel hotter than that.
The mile markers were all over the place throughout the race, some were way short, others way long, mile 7 I didn’t even see at all, and there were even signs saying water ahead after one of the water stops rather than before?! Despite this, the event was fairly well organised and all the volunteers did a great job on what was a tough day.
Running through Broadway Market and past Victoria Park gave me a little boost as they are regular sights in my normal running routes. We ran past a pub around mile 8 where I had to inform 2 blokes standing outside drinking pints how unbelievably cruel they were!
Around mile 10 we wound into the Olympic park, for 3 miles of pain. There was a load of long out and backs up slight inclines, and although it was cool to be running with the Olympic venues in sight, there was absolutely no shade, and it was just brutal. There was a mist shower at one point, which was amazing, although it would of been nice to have more along the way. At the last water station at mile 11 I got a dud water pouch which would not open, so I had to go without water for the last 4 miles which in the heat was incredibly difficult.
I was very glad to be heading out of the Olympic park section and back to Hackney Marshes. I pretty much had nothing left in the last mile and was just focused on getting to the finish. The last 0.1 had to be the longest ever, I think it was about 0.3 and never-ending! I was so glad to be done, swearing off running anything longer than a 10k race in summer from now on. The medal was a nice one, and the goody bag was amazing- for once most of the stuff in it was actually Vegan and stuff I could use. I didn’t hang around for long as I was absolutely shattered and the legs were in pain, my calf/knee thankfully held up for the race though.
I finished in 2.06.11, which is well off my PB, but considering the heat and no focused half marathon training I was pretty pleased. For the first running of the event I think it went pretty smoothly, especially considering the size of the event at around 12500 entrants. I think it would be better moved either earlier or later in the year, as the conditions were just so tough for everyone, and so many people needed help out there. The course was pretty decent, fairly flat, good support and a few sights to keep you interested along the way. I think the final 3 mile section needs looking at, but it was nice to have part of it within the Olympic Park. I think this is an event with a lot of promise and potential and if they did happen to run it at a different time of year I would be happy to sign up again!I was very happy with my second bling of the weekend and celebrated with a mega Vegan brunch at Le Pain!