After taking on the inaugural Vitality North London Half Marathon in 2015 (read the write up here), I was lured back with the temptation of an updated route. You can never really judge an event by their first attempt so I was curious to see what feedback had been taken on board.
Start Location: Wembley Park
Start Time: 9am
The Start: Okay. So I had what was probably the worst start to a race ever. After turning up in good time, I ended up running to the start line 25 minutes after the scheduled start. I was lucky enough to be hosted in the Hospitality Area, however, this was in a very convoluted part of the stadium; I got lost leaving the building, after realising I had forgotten my shot bloks and then managed to get to the start line only in what I estimate were the last 100 runners to start!
The Route: The course was recognisable from 2015, having been the second half of our 13.1 miles on that occasion, yet being just the first half this time around. My geography isn't the greatest but to me, this out and back route is actually North West London. From Wembley Stadium, to Allianz Park and back again.
The Crowd: Support on the course was sparse; it was early on a Sunday morning after all! The route was also a mix of industrial areas and residential areas so not much going on for spectators.
The Atmosphere: The atmosphere was an interesting one. Having never started so far back in a race before it was new to me to see what goes on behind the average runners. The atmosphere for the first half was great with all the runners being on the opposite side to us and seeing friends who cheered me on. It was a little lonelier on the way back with no crowds of runners or spectators. Yet, these were the runners who honestly needed their spirits lifted most, suffering from injuries or just taking on a challenge so big that it was difficult.
The Drinks: So many drinks stations (water and Lucozade) which were hugely appreciated! The water bottles were the perfect size - small enough to carry and large enough to quench your thirst should you really need it. Mine fit in the pocket of my tights which allowed to me take sips anytime I needed between stations.
The Loo Situation: Portaloos seemed to be located at all the water stations. For the first time in as long as I can remember I stopped to used them somewhere in the first half. There were queues at each set so I stopped when I saw a shorter queue but this still took a good 5 or 6 minutes in my estimation.
The Finish: Now this was a hit and a miss. When you are in mile 13, running down the same straight where the starting pens were located and can see the stadium ahead of you, you could be mistaken, like I was to think this is the end. But no. Once you got to the stadium, we took a sharp left into the car par and ran along the side of the stadium for what felt like an eternity; then through what could only be described as service tunnel before merging into the actual stadium.
The atmosphere inside did make up for the last few hundred metres somewhat; hearing your name being called over the tannoy as you crossed the finish line was the cherry on top.
The Medal: Now we all know this is what really got me out of bed at 6am on a Sunday, right?! The whole time I was running, quitting crossed my mind regularly but then I worried about a) how I would get back to the start line and b) I wouldn't get the medal. So I kept running as the solution to both of these stoppages.
Now it's time to get ready for Hackney Half Marathon on Sunday 8th May! In an attempt to actually train for this this race, I'll be posting my classes / runs weekly on my FB page (link below) to stay accountable and hopefully get some company! ...I already have Barry's Bootcamp in the diary for this week!
How has your Half Marathon training been going?! Will you be taking on Hackney too?!