How is your Easter weekend going? Mine has been pretty chilled so far. I made it to Provence where I have enjoyed croissants, nice bread and a glorious nap. Pretty relaxing 🙂
So on Thursday I got quite carried away with taking the keyboard again and I did not give you any specific details about the North London Half Marathon. Hopefully this post will answer more technical questions about the race.
Getting to the start line
The race starts and finishes in Wembley stadium, making it convenient location as it is very close to the underground. I think that the race could benefit from starting at 9.30am rather than 9am though in order to spread the tube passenger load.
I went on the tube with my packed breakfast and some revisions notes, thinking that I would peacefully make my way to Wembley stadium. How naive! I couldn’t make it on the first tube, had to wait for the third one to push my way in and there I was squashed like a sardine for over half of the journey! Not a relaxing start and I ate my breakfast much later than I would have liked.
Arriving on site and the start
Once on site, everything was very well indicated and it took 11min watch in hand to find the bag drops and drop my bag. Pretty quick. Since I was given my race entry by Action PR, I was lucky to have access to the press area and to go to the toilet there. However it looked very busy and if I had to queue, I might not have been able to start the race on time. I physically could not have gotten to the race village earlier due to the first tubes of the day being jam-packed, as described above.
Max and I easily found our pen (2h00-2h15). We had time to follow the warm up given by the race organisers. I loved the energy there and the music, really making me look forward to the race starting. Impossible to spot any pacers for our pen though!
The race started on time but the start was very narrow and it took us 10 min to cross the start line. The beginning of the North London Half marathon was with a hill, but I quite enjoyed it, it thought it made the start quite special.
North London Half Marathon – the route
Space! Lots of space at the beginning! The route is an out and back though and it did become seriously narrow miles 5-8 until we could spread out a bit again. I like an out and back. I find looking out for other runners very entertaining. We were able to cheer the elite runners as they were making their way back. It is so so impressive to watch them and to realise that some people can literally run twice as fast as you. For 13.1 miles. So on top of cheering Max, the out and back was a great distraction as I was keeping an eye out for other runners I knew were racing (Bex, Mollie and Elle, who I spotted and had the pleasure to chat to).
I LOVED going through the Allianz park half way through. There was an amazing ambiance with the music, our names were showing up on the screen, it was so cool. It was also great to highlight that we had run half of the race and then we could just focus on running back home now!
I cannot integrate the video that I snapped at the halfway point but you can watch it there: Loving the half way point
I lost Max at mile 4 due to a toilet stop and caught up with him by mile 9.5. I don’t know why I cannot run a race without a pit stop lately but this race had enough toilets. There was more than enough water points too, to the point that I could miss a water station knowing that there was another one coming up soon. I think that there were 3 Powerade stations too, which seems like a lot for a half marathon. The kids volunteering to distribute the water were super cheerful, and it was much-needed.
I think that this race could be a difficult one if you have no or little experience tackling this distance and running hills. There was barely any crowd support to cheer you and the course is a bit hilly. When I lost Max, I was quite worried as there was not the race ambiance that you can expect in some other races. However we did fine with the hills. As much as I complain about all the hills in Bristol, I have to say that they are amazing for my training. From my point of view, the North London Half is a flat course, and one where I could attempt to PB. I thought that the few hills kept things super entertaining and helped me gain some momentum.
The North London Half calls itself the race with the Greatest finish line in the world. Was it?
Seeing Wembley stadium on the home stretch was a great boost. I was absolutely loving life at that point and spotting my husband in the crowd made it even better.
However, it can be a but misleading as you need to go around the stadium, go via the car park entrance and then cross the finish line. Max started sprinting too soon, I couldn’t even catch up with him. A quick glance at my watch (I am back running with a watch, more on that soon) and I realised that we still had 800m to go but I could not catch up with him to tell him! I was a bit disheartening. Once we knew how much we still had to run, it was cool to finish in the stadium. It was super sunny and we could spot ourselves on the massive screen. There was then time to take a few pictures, get our race medal and a bottle of water.
We then had to get out of the stadium (I would have liked to stay there a bit longer to be honest, it felt a little rush) and collect our goodie bags. I like that the chip was on the bib, it’s much easier than when everybody stops in the middle to take the chip off their shoes. The goodie bag was GOOD. Lots of snacks, water, powerade, banana, popcorn, dried fruits etc. For the first time I noticed that it was a gluten-free goodie back as well.
From the moment I decided to head to the bag drop and collect my bag, it only took 2 min. Brownies points for that. Brownies point for the changing tent next to the bag drop too. What a good idea. It was good to get off my sweaty top and sports bra, and put some dry clothes. Girls, you know what I mean, you might change tops in the middle of the crowd but if you keep your sweaty sports bra on, well you are more likely to catch a cold. So really, the changing tent was a great idea.
Brownies point also for how easy it was for me to find my husband after the race. I spotted him close to the underground, he made his way close to the stadium to soak up the ambiance. I then told him to meet me at the bag , told him my bib number so he knew in which queue I would be and job done. It was then super easy for us to go back to the tube and head home. Oh yeah, I should add that the walk to the tube being by the last part of the race, it was super cool to be able to keep encouraging runners as they were finishing.
Would I run it again?
Yes. I really enjoyed it. It was a good spring goal. I think that running it alone would enable me to work on my mental strength a bit more and it could also be part of a longer run by running to Wembley stadium. Overall I thought that the race was well organised, there was enough water, energy drinks, toilets and good goody bags. And the medal! The medal was cool too.
Do you like hills?
Do you need crowd support to get you through a race?
Many thanks to Action PR for providing me with a race entry. All opinions are my own.