Royal Parks Half Marathon 2017

The 8th October 2017 was a special day for the #royalparkshalf as it celebrated its 10th year. The hashtag for the year was #10yearsrunning. This is actually a special day for me, I’ve not completed all 10, but I’ve been at 6 Royal Parks. In 2009 I took on the course, just getting back into fitness.

My pacing debut, Royal Parks 2013

2013 was a particularly special moment. I made my pacing debut with Xempo. It is crazy looking back to 2013, I was a very different person, and ran for very different reasons. This was the start of the pacing journey for me, but in 2013 it was just something I was giving a go. I have paced 1:40 at Royal Parks every year since. In 2016 I had just began writing my blog, so one of my first entries is HERE.

Visorclub debut, Royal Parks 2016

In 2016 I also gave my Racecheck visor its debut, making this year my #visorclub anniversary. Looking back no one really knew much about #visorclub and now everyone is talking about it, and they are everywhere I look.

Looking forward to the 10th edition of this event, my 6th time running it,  5th time pacing it, 17th time pacing for Xempo and 38th event I have paced. These stats make me very happy, and demonstrates how much pacing has become part of my life over the last few years.

Kit laid out ready to go

As usual I laid out my kit the night before, making sure that I had everything I need. I knew we were getting a different top this year so I asked Dan from Xempo what colour it would be. This may sound a little sad but I wanted to try and match my CEP calf guards/socks the best I could. Ironically, looking back, I wore the same pair that I wore last year.

It was a particularly early start for me. I will let you into a little secret, I spent the day before being unwell, and did not sleep much. Obviously I was worried by this, but didn’t let it show, as my job is to fill everyone with confidence, so that’s what I did. I had to leave the house at 6:30 to make sure I got to the Race village nice and early. I would sooner arrive an hour earlier than I need to, than risk being late.

Pacers ready for action

I spent most of the morning chatting with so many people that I know virtually through Twitter or Facebook.

The #ukrunchat crew out in force

With an event of 17,000 it is hard catching up with everyone. A fair few pictures were taken, and I’ve added a view below (will add some more as people send them to me).

Racecheck #Visorclub, #teamblack ready for action

One of the best parts of events these days is the social interaction of the running community. I know many feel the same way.

Adam making the other half of the 1:40 #funbus

Lovely to meet Jon today 👍

I do think Dan is going a little crazy as he ages, as I note the picture he posted of us is from behind. He said it was because of the way the flags were pointing, I just think he wanted a picture of my arse, I will let you all decide what you think.

The arses of the Xempo pacers

We made our way to the start pens about 8:30. As always we lead the way, and runners can place themselves according to their desired finish time. I went to near the front of the Green Wave, Adam went about 10-20 metres back to spread out the runners, there were an awful lot of 1:40 seekers.

The start of the Royal Parks Half 2017

I always like to take a picture at the start. I can’t get everyone in, but it’s a good way to look back and see faces that stuck with me until the end. 

Leading the 1:40 #funbus at the start

As always some stayed with me, some went on ahead at various points and dropped back. Others I picked up along the way. With so many people filling the streets of London there is always a great atmosphere. Having run this event numerous times you would think I know this route off by heart. Well this year I did. I spent the last year working by St James Park, with my lunch time run consisting of a lap of the serpentine. It was great knowing the route this well, and being able to know what was coming next. I provided a tour service as we went along…. “when we turn to the right we will have Buckingham Palace on our right and on our left will be the Mall, where the London Marathon finishes”.

Selfie outside Buckingham Palace

The picture isn’t great as I was turning a corner, and pacing 7:38 min miles, but how often do you get a selfie outside Buckingham Palace during an event.

As always I try to run as consistently as possible. I use my watch, but always adjust to mile markers. Even when I think they are slightly out, I would rather adjust as it is pointless me finishing in perfect time if I haven’t actually finished the course. I remember having to run slightly quicker than my 7:38 average last year, so bearing that in mind I did the first mile in 7:31. The mile marker was still 20 seconds further away, I knew this couldn’t be right, but to give confidence to those around me I sped up slightly for the next couple of miles, just to get us in line with the markers, and at the end of the day this gave us a nice 20 second cushion. Every time I got my pace to match the mile marker I then relaxed to do a mile for 7:36-7:38 the speed I should be running at. I did however have to do the odd 7:30 to keep us on track.

Enjoying the views of the Serpentine

The first half of the course takes in some of the sights of London, going through the city on closed roads. After about half way we head past Green Park and once in Hyde Park the atmosphere really builds. The whole course is well supported, but through Hyde Park there are sections on par with London Marathon. It’s a really enjoyable flat course, and fairly wide throughout. Once you are in Hyde Park there are a few twists and turns and some narrow sections, but nothing to cause real delays.


It was great looking around me seeing so many keeping up throughout. One thing I must comment on, is there was a real lack of anything exceptionally special for the 10th anniversary. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a great event anyway, so maybe nothing more is needed. The finishers top has #10yearsrunning on its back; the medal is the same as previous years, but has a small 10 engraved on it. After mile 10 there were a few small signs with “10” on it. If there was anything else more significant I really did miss it. As I said, it was a great event, but I had expected something different to mark the occasion.

Great group sticking with me today

Whilst taking on the last two miles I saw a few people struggling, who I tried to encourage to keep with me. I saw one guy on the floor being tended to by medics, which is never nice to see, but he looked in safe hands. I always try to encourage as much as possible in the closing moments. That last mile it’s make or break, and it only takes a few words of encouragement for some people to make the difference. Forget the few mile markers that were out, particularly the mile 11 that was significantly out of alignment with the rest. One thing I like about this course is the 800 metre countdown. It provides runners with that target to really push, and reassuringly for me it is easy for me to judge my speed according to this, knowing I was on target.

Having fun on the home stretch

By this point I had many of my group run ahead, so I turned to call back to those around me. I always say, I want to have a 30 second cushion at the end, allowing me to be a good target for people to get ahead. I don’t slow dramatically, but drop 10 seconds in the final 400 metres to push people on. It’s always great seeing people #pickupthepace at this point. There was a #runmummyrun lady I shouted out to with 200 metres left, she looked like she was slowing down, then all of a sudden she sprinted to the end… fantastic.

The finish line

I was held up at the finish line with a queue of people wanting to shake my hand. I love this, the passion, and obvious joy of those that have achieved their PB’s. And the best bit is, because they have done it with good pacing they still have energy at the end, it always makes me so happy hearing about all the PB’s.

Bang on time for the 5th year

With a target time of sub 1:40 I am very happy with 1:39:44, as were all those that stuck with me. Another great event Royal Parks, and thank you Xempo for having me back.

If you enjoy reading my blogs, can you help me out by voting for me in the Running Awards. I’ve been nominated for best BLOG, and if you agree vote for “pick up the pace Paul” HERE. Thanks guys.

Finishers tee, medal, TomTom and teddy donations from RBC

The goody bag is always awesome, only downside is the queue gets huge. If I finished after 2 hours I probably wouldn’t bother queuing, I always think there must be a better way. The new lead sponsor Royal Bank of Canada was out in force and gave me a couple of lions for my kids, great touch.

If you want to join #visorclub don’t forget to review your race on Racecheck.

9 thoughts on “Royal Parks Half Marathon 2017

  1. Another fantastic blog. Thanks for all your efforts pacing people, one day I might even be quick enough to join you! I have to agree about the lack of celebrating “10” years, its nice that we are going to get a finishers photo but I also thought that there would be more. I was disapointed with the goodie bags this year, lots of sweet stuff but no crisps to replenish salt, First time I have know this & I have now run it 3 times. Well done again – Sue 🙂


    1. Thank you… yes agree about the lack of pop crisp or anything salty… didn’t know about the photo? Are all photos free or just one? I don’t even know if I was in shot for any as always sandwich between people


  2. This is a really interesting article, a great read.

    One question: regarding the 11-mile marker – how was it wrong? Was it too early or too late? I have to admit, I can’t remember passing it, but I was really struggling mentally by that point, and it being wrong probably wouldn’t have helped!


    1. Thank you glad you enjoyed the read. So leading up to this point I had about 20 seconds spare, which I am to try and keep. I ran a 7:36 split (perfect) and arrived at mile 11 about 15 seconds late, so it was a very long mile. All pacers said the same. Markers being out causes me great anxiety as I can’t rely on it being rectified later, I have to assume that it is right and match my pace


      1. Thanks Paul – that kind of fits with my experience around then, of ‘will this mile never end?!’.

        Do you think the next mile (or the 13th) was then shorter, to ‘rectify’ it, or is the whole race a bit long? Every time I’ve done it it’s measured long on my GPS, but I always expect that in a mass participation race with wide roads.


      2. The course was accurate but we run further owing to the route you take. The next miles were Short. I can never run perfect splits when the course is out as I match the markers. When I’m confident with markers I will run even splits


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