The Ealing Half Marathon has won an award for the UK’s favourite half marathon three years in a row so, since it was fairly close to my home, I decided to give it a go. It is quite a large event with some 8,000 runners, but it is very well organised. The race village in Lammas Park has plenty of space and a number of food, drink and merchandise stalls that help to give the event a good atmosphere.
It was quite cool when I got to the race village (about 6°C) but there was no wind so it wasn’t too bad. Nonetheless, I was glad that I was wearing a tracksuit. The sun came out later but it never got warmer than 12°C, so ideal running conditions really. We were ushered out of the park onto a neighbouring road for the start at 9am and headed-off along a route entirely closed to traffic. I was surprised how much support there was in the residential areas of Ealing. A number of houses had loud sound systems and there was even a live rock band in the front drive of one house! The route doubles back on itself in a number of places so there is the chance to shout-out as you pass your buddies going the other way.
I was warned that the route was hilly but in fact most of the hills are long, gentle inclines. And there are no steep descents either, so you have a chance to stretch your legs on the downhills without braking. My last road half marathon was in 2016 at Wokingham, so I was rather apprehensive about how much pace I had lost in the meantime. I set myself the target of beating 1h 50m which, with a margin for safety, translates to a pace of 8 min 15 sec per mile. My first 7 miles were well within my target pace but I started to struggle in mile 8, which contained the steepest incline of the whole race. From then on, it was a question of hanging-on as best as I could. Thanks to the time ‘banked’ in the first half of the race, I crept in under my target, finishing in 1h 48’ 37”.
The finishers medal is quite nice but the remaining goodies are all e-goodies distributed afterwards by email and I haven’t bothered to check them out yet. The only e-goody that I will definitely take advantage of is a code entitling me to a beer in my local Fullers pub! All in all, a great race and well worth a go if you fancy a change of scene. Like a smaller version of Reading, it is big enough to have atmosphere but without the inconvenience.