Having once briefly lived in Wimbledon, I felt like the local half marathon would almost count as home turf and a definite race for me to enter as my season draws to a close. Plus, I entered my first race on the common way back in 2001, so it seemed like a long overdue return.
This particular Wimbledon Half Marathon [I’m sure there’s a few] was organised by Run UK and I believe it was their first year. To be honest, I wasn’t expecting much because of its immaturity, but it was organised brilliantly. Considering its London, parking on the street was readily available and free. Accessing the Common meant nothing more than crossing a quiet road, the start and finish was easy to reach and the route was well marked out and with marshals on every corner. No complaints at all.
The race starts on Wimbledon Common itself, but quickly joins the back streets of Wimbledon. It was a pretty small field of 300 runners, but split between the half marathon and a shorter 10k. With a mixed field like this, I always think it’s hard to judge pace at first – until it can be clear who is in what race – but I guess that’s part of the fun. It also makes for a pretty fast start [I always think it’s better to use the runners in the shorter distance as pace makers]!
Let me tell you all this [because I had forgotten]: Wimbledon has a big, big hill, its windy and exposed, and that’s probably why it has a windmill on the local common. On a bad day, I can imagine it doesn’t make for amazing running conditions.
The course is [roughly] 4km downhill, 4km uphill and so on until the finish. The hills were tough – it made the difference between running 4.15-4.20/km uphill and 3.40-3.50/km downhill. There’s also lots of twists and turns along different roads on the way back up too, which kills the pace considerably.
The first part of the race actually went by quite fast – it was a comfortable 40-minutes and I had lots of company from the other 10k runners. The unbelievable houses made for a pleasant distraction.
After that point, however, as the 10k runners finished, it did become a struggle. I was entirely on my own for the remainder of the race. I couldn’t see anyone behind or in front. I just had to run on my own and hope for the best. By some sort of luck, I hit the 20km mark at 1 hr 20, another 40-minuute 10k.
The last km was pretty awful. We had to run through Wimbledon Village High Street. I got caught up behind shoppers, people leaving a bus, tourists, and a procession of horses. My legs were gone, it was a struggle and probably not very pretty to watch! Once through that, it was a short distance back to the quiet common.
In the end, I crossed the line in 5th place. 1 hr 24 [4.02/km average] and set personal bests at 10 miles, 15km and 20km.
I would actually run here again – simply because of the good organisation, ease of access and blend of two races to help keep the pace up.