Celebrating its 10th birthday, this race was always going to have a party atmosphere. With the weather behaving and the sun shining it felt like the perfect day for a race. It was also an ideal opportunity for participants to test their legs, before winter training begins for next year’s spring marathons. With 16,000 runners this was an impressive field.
This really is a spectacular race through the capital, with closed roads and landmarks at almost every turn to feast your eyes on (and distract you every mile). Four of London’s eight Royal Parks – Hyde Park, The Green Park, St James’s Park and Kensington Gardens form part of the race and create a beautiful setting for a long run on a Sunday.
After leaving Hyde Park you run past Buckingham Palace (I couldn’t see if the Queen was waving at us), Trafalgar Square, Horse Guards Parade, the Houses of Parliament and the Royal Albert Hall. It’s a gentle course – there are no nasty unexpected hills but there are undulating parts. The green spaces and park tracks more than made up for the slight inclines.
Before the race, thousands made their way from the surrounding Tube stations to Hyde Park, both to run, and support. The race village was expansive, and the goody bag was probably the best I’ve ever received. You get your medal and empty bag after you cross the finish line, then wind your way back towards the event village where you can pick-and-mix the goodies on offer. Food and drinks were plentiful as well as some other treats including shampoo and sweets – it was a very generous ending to a fantastic race.
There’s also amazing crowd support for the whole 13.1 miles, including the host of charities that benefit from the massive sponsorship efforts of runners. Initially established to create funds for the Royal Parks, the race has raised over £35million for over 700 UK charities, including Cancer Research UK, GOSH, Macmillan and Tommy’s.
At the half way stage, you get to run along a park track with both sides flanked by charities and the roar of support makes every runner smile. On the way back past these charities us runners may have been grimacing a bit more, but the wall of noise lifted everyone’s spirits.
With the appearance of the finishing straight your job is done, and it’s time to unwind in beautiful Hyde Park. As half marathons go this one is spectacular and one that will stay in your memory – giving you plenty of motivation to keep pounding those miles over the winter.
For the date of next year’s race visit: royalparkshalf.com