20 April 2019
| THE HEARTBEAT OF WOMEN'S SPORT

Event review: The Royal Parks Foundation Half Marathon

October 22, 2010

Sportsister joined 12,500 runners for the third annual Royal Parks Foundation half marathon through central London on October 10th.

Royal-Parks-Half-MarathonI had high hopes for this event. Since it launched three years ago entries have become harder and harder to secure with runners snapping them all up within just hours of them being released. This had to be a good sign.

Despite London Underground doing its best to cause travel troubles by shutting two of the stations on the edge of Hyde Park, I made it to the start line in plenty of time on the morning of the race. A good number of toilets meant queues were short despite the large amount of people already on site by 9am.

In addition to the actual race a big part of this event is the Brakes Food & Fitness Festival. There were dozens of market stalls with healthy, home-grown produce for runners (post-race) and spectators alike to sample and buy.

A large warm up area was marked out and a group warm up was delivered by members of the British Military Fitness team.

The course

The run started and finished in Hyde Park. It’s a pretty flat course and was wide enough at almost all stages for you to run at your own pace and find some space.

We headed out of Hyde Park, past Buckingham Palace and through into Green Park. From there it was down the edge of St James Park heading towards Westminster. After passing Big Ben we followed the river, with the London Eye on the opposite bank as far as Temple.

We then looped back along the Embankment to Trafalgar Square and ran through Admiralty Arch. It was then down The Mall (where the London Marathon finishes) heading back to Green Park, and back into Hyde Park by the six mile marker. I was pleased I had checked out the route beforehand or else I may have assumed that being back in Hyde Park meant the finish line was fast approaching!

The remaining seven miles of the course was within Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens which meant you did a fair bit of zig zagging. You started alongside the Serpentine lake, first heading west then two miles later again, this time heading east. You then crossed into Kensington Gardens, passing the Serpentine Gallery and with the end almost in sight you pass the Royal Albert Hall and back up to the main festival area for the finish line.

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Organisation

This was a really well organised event. Considering the festival attracts over 50,000 visitors, including the 12,500 runners, everything ran very smoothly. As it was such a sunny day people milled around afterwards sampling some of the food on offer and soaking up the festival atmosphere.

I didn’t actually use the bag drop as I had friends supporting me who could hold on to my bag, but those I spoke to that did said it was quick and easy.

The route had regular drinks stations, offering both Lucozade and water, and thanks to sponsor Marks & Spencer’s there were Percy Pig sweets being handed out around the course too.

I’m not normally a fan of race medals but I have to say that I really liked this one. Made out of wood, and shaped like a leaf, it was really fitting for the event.

Would I do it again?

Yes definitely. Being in the heart of London meant it was very accessible for both runners and spectators alike. The route passed some great landmarks and offered a nice mix of closed roads and scenic park land.

Royal-Parks-Half-Marathon2Good points

–         Very well organised and efficient event

–         There’s also a 3km youth event and the option to walk the half-marathon

–         The Brakes Food & Fitness Festival meant there was plenty going on for spectators and runners too post-race

Bad points

–         Some of the pace makers didn’t stick to their paces!

–         The latter half of the course does zig zag a lot and some runners may find this a little tedious

More info: www.royalparkshalf.com

Louise Hudson, Sportsister
The Women’s Sports Magazine

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