Royal Parks Half Marathon

On 20th December 2012 by Rachael Woolston

I’ve been fortunate to have run in races around the world, and each one has been characterised in some way by the the country it is in. Whether it is the efficiency and professionalism of runners in a German race, or the party atmosphere at the start of a Portuguese event.

So it’s apt that in London, one of the most cosmopolitan cities in the world, the Royal Parks Half Marathon start line was a melting pot of nationalities.

Now in it’s fifth year, the Royal Parks Half Marathon attracts thousands of would-be entrants, all keen for the opportunity to run on closed roads past some of London’s most iconic sights, including Buckingham Palace, Kensington Palace, Big Ben and the Houses of Parliaments, not to mention the magnificent Royal Parks including Hyde Park, Green Park, St James Park and Kensington Gardens.

It was a beautiful, autumnal day made for running this year’s 2012 race, which meant that I didn’t have to deal with a shivering start line.

My race plan? To take it slowly as I had a marathon the next week. What did I do? Took off like a bat out of hell.

Whether it was the gorgeous weather, the cheering crowds, or the thrill of running through my home city buoyed by post Olympic fever, I couldn’t help myself.

And with a wide, flat route, it encouraged going for a personal best. Even when the route narrowed well placed signs warned you with plenty of notice to enable you to manoeuvre.

I grinned my way around most of the route, whether it was at the sight of the sunlight filtering through the burnt orange autumnal leaves, the gold of the Victory Statue etched against the blue sky at Buckingham Palace, or the cheering crowds, it was hard not to.

Every mile I ran, I kept telling myself to slow down but I couldn’t help myself. And at the last three-mile mark, when I heard someone say he was on for a time of 1hour 38min time, I knew I’d kick myself If I didn’t take the chance to go for a personal best.

I made it, over the finish line at 1 hour 39mins, four minutes faster than my previous best. Had I known Gordon Ramsay was just a minute in front, I would have run faster to beat him.

Sometimes, a magnificent race can be spoiled with disorganisation. Not the Royal Parks Half.

After receiving my medal, a beautiful, carved wooden leaf, I was directed out to Hyde Park to the food village, where a huge array of delicious food was on offer, replacing the usual post race greasy burgers and weak tea. There were also stalls giving out free goodies, including muesli bars, and granola, and no queues, not even for the baggage pick up.

A clever last minute addition to the race was the introduction of an Iphone App which enabled me not only to track my friends on route, but which provided my finish time, along with my split times as soon as I crossed the finish line. Genius.

For the Royal Parks Half Marathon, I am prepared to break one of my cardinal running rules, which is to never run the same race twice.

This is a magnificent race that showcases London in all it’s glory, while also offering you the chance to get a personal best.

Type of run: City

Terrain: Smooth tarmac

I wore: Brooks Pure Cadence

Route: See attached picture

Race Goodies: Thumbs up for a beautiful medal (my favourite ever), as well as  healthy post race goodies including granola, Rice Dream drink, bananas and muesli bars.

Post run recovery: mmmm, VIP tent recovery with fresh fruits and yoghurt and smoked cheddar cheese baguette with onion relish (not sure it was up to Gordon Ramsay’s standards but I devoured it!)

Marks: ***** (my first five star!)

When: October 6th, 2013.

The Royal Parks Half Marathon has raised more than £11million for over 365 charities since 2008. It also supports the vital conservation work of the Royal Parks. To enter next year’s half marathon visit www.royalparkshalfmarathon.co.uk OR www.royalparksultramarathon.co.uk for their new 50mile ultra event.

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