This year I have been trying to do more events that I have not done before as I have a tendency to book the same ones, so last year when I saw there was going to be a New London Half Marathon I thought great and booked it.
It appeared to be a nice run starting at Tower Bridge and finishing at the Cutty Sark but like with everything I book I worry about the logistics of actually getting there and back home again once I’ve entered.
With all the snow we had experienced I was not sure the event would be going ahead but I was pleased to receive confirmation that the race was on but they had cancelled the Little Half run (later they advised if you posted a picture on Instagram or twitter of yourself walking or running wearing your race number they would send you your Little Half medal).
The race start time was 9am but the first Sunday train from my nearest station Farnborough Main would not get me into Waterloo until 8.50 and with a bag drop cut off time of 8.20 to give the lorries time to get to the finish area this was no good so I was going to have to get the 6.36 from Woking which would get me to Waterloo at 7.30 giving me 50 minutes to get to Tower Bridge on the Jubilee line to London Bridge Tube Station and then a short walk. After the race I had booked the City Cruise ferry back to Westminster as the nearest tube was a bit of a walk away.
At 5 am my alarm went off and I got myself ready to leave at 6. Liz now being married to a runner had kindly offered to drop me off at Woking station at 6.15.
Getting to the South side of Tower bridge was busy but pretty painless and there were plenty of toilets so I got changed and put my bag in the appropriate lorry based on my running number.
The bag drop area was very very busy (with about 11500 runners actually starting) but with clear blue skies above and a back drop of one of the most famous landmarks in the world; start areas do not get much better than this!
The Elite line up was also pretty impressive for this event with Sir Mo Farah who had been training in Ethiopia coming over to run. However I think he would have been more impressed with my logistics in getting to the start and getting home again from Farnborough!
The start line was on the North side so at 8.45 I made my way across the bridge and joined the queue. The atmosphere was great with everyone cheering when Sir Mo’s name was announced.
I was in wave C which started at 9.15 on the dot to Queens Under Pressure. My plan was to start off at a nice steady pace around the 5 min/km mark and see how I felt at 10km then push it if I felt good. The Big Half did use chunks of the London Marathon route to create a course from Tower Bridge to Canary Wharf and back again then heading off to the Cutty Sark.
After about a mile we entered the Limehouse Link Tunnel which seemed to me to go on forever (1.8km actually) and with the lack of a cool breeze I soon started to get hot having dressed for a cold day.
After a couple of miles everyone got a bit of a boost seeing Mo racing on his way back to Tower Bridge again (Mile 7) as we were heading out to Canary Wharf.
I wouldn’t say the course was flat as it did have a few gradual climbs and there were large sections of cobbles which didn’t help as my legs tired but the organization seemed good with plenty of cheering spectators, ample water stops and encouraging marshals but to be honest I did not find the route very scenic.
My early km times were a bit quick so by mile 11 my legs had had enough and I felt physically very tired despite taking my usual gels at both 7km and 14km. Maybe I hadn’t fully recovered from the previous weeks Thorpe Half but I still managed the sprint finish across the line to collect a rather nice medal, finishers T-Shirt and a goody bag.
Now I had to get back to Waterloo but because it was so busy and I had to cross the course it took me 1 ½ hours to get to the jetty by the Cutty Sark to get my ferry (I missed the one I had booked) but it was nice once on board to grab a coffee, relax and have an hours boat trip back to Westminster seeing the sights. Sunday service meant that trains to Farnborough only run every hour so when I got off the ferry I had to run to Waterloo to make sure I caught the 14.07 train and not have another long wait.
Liz again came up trumps and picked my weary body up from Farnborough station.
All in all I am glad I made the effort to run the first Big Half as this may become a must do event but personally the logistics of getting there for a 9am start, the less than scenic route and getting home again from the Cutty Sark means it may be a while before I do it again.
This Sunday I will be doing the Surrey Half Marathon followed by the one and only Grizzly the week after to end a very busy 4 weeks of running.