The day had arrived – my 4th half marathon and first one outside of my University town of Cardiff. The flat scenic route around Thames Ditton, with perfect weather conditions, made me excited to tackle the distance again. I think Alice was just wondering why we were up early on a Sunday…!
The pre-race preparations were slightly overshadowed by the initial inability to find the portaloos in the race village, followed by the world’s longest wait in the queue. So much so that the start gun went off whilst we were still queuing! Thank god for chip timing!
Finally we set out on the course which started off very slow due to narrow paths and the inability to overtake when we wanted to. This went on for a while, with myself or Alice finally finding a gap, squeezing through and then having to wait until the other one had found her own way through. But the benefits of running together far outweighed the frustration of not being able to zoom ahead!
The route itself was extremely flat; I must remember in future to try and pick races that are orientated around water!! Spectators were dotted about, cheering and handing out the occasionally jelly baby. Personally I find a simple high five from a cheering child gives enough of a boost!
The stretch around miles 4 and 5 along the river front was pleasant and gave us lovely views (not to mention being perfectly flat!). At this point we were still overtaking runners on every side – payback for being in the loo queue at the start of the race! It was definitely a lesson learned that if you want a stress-free race, start in the right time section!
The urban run through Kingston town centre was rewarded with fantastic (if brief) views of Hampton Court itself at mile 10, which helped spur us home. Despite being named The Hampton Court Half Marathon, Hampton Court itself featured very little in the route which was slightly disappointing, although Henry VIII was there in the race village!
The open road feature of the race was new to us, having only ever enjoyed closed road races before. At times it felt just like a Thursday SJ Threshold run, having to jump back onto the pavement to avoid the cars and hope your tired legs don’t show you up by clipping the kerb! I had to stop myself several times from instinctively shouting “CAR” at the runners in front! The route involved quite a lot of residential roads, so we created a fair few traffic jams and probably annoyed a lot of locals trying to get out and about on a Sunday!
The finish was a nice short sprint on grass before having to smile (or grimace!) for the finish line photographers. I think the race organisers wanted to give our necks a workout judging by the size and weight of the medal; they definitely went all out on the metal work!
All in all, it was a good race with a nice and well marshalled route, but definitely an eye opener into open road races and the importance of getting into the correct start pen! Finally, for those of you familiar with the Heidi-Alice running reputation that we are getting on Monday and Thursday SJ runs, yes we did manage to stop talking for a few sections of the race…!