On the 18th February 2018 I took part in the Hampton Court Half Marathon. I have taken part in this event a couple of times before, and previously paced the 1:30 group. I did not take part last year as I was running a marathon, but this year I was back pacing my usual 1:40 #funbus. This was my 3rd event of the year and 2nd time pacing in 2018. Overall I have paced 42 events, of which 19 were with Xempo.
As always I laid out my race kit ready the night before to make sure I had my essentials. With Xempo I always pick up my race bib on the day. The Hampton Court half is a really early start, kicking off at 8:30 I needed to make sure I was in the race village by 7:30.
It was a very cold start to the morning, but the rain from earlier in the week had cleared. Although it started off chilly it looked like it would be a lovely day to run. At the start I had a #visorclub selfie, and chatted with lots of runners who came to say hello. The race village is very basic, with not a lot on. I was dropped off at the start and my family decided to go back home as it was close enough not to need to stay, and nothing for them to do.
We left it as late as we could to take off our warm clothes as it was particularly cold. But before long it was time for our Pacer selfie and to get to the start line. I was pacing with Phil today and we had a great group around us of people aiming to hit 1:40 for the first time.
We were in the second wave, so watched as the first wave started and we were held back a minute for our start. This was a really good idea to ease congestion on the course, which was really narrow in places.
This course followed a very similar route to the numerous events held in Kingston. For me it’s an event of two parts. The beginning and end run along open roads where we are told to stick to the paths. It is impossible to stick to the small path and we naturally spilled out into the road. In some places this was dangerous. The course is littered with posts, and many had nothing to make them more visible. I, along with other runners, shouted out so people could be aware. It would have benefited from signs, tape or something to make these more visible.
The course is flat throughout which makes it great for a PB, and really easy to run at an even Pace. All my splits were within 10 seconds of each other. It was a little congested at times, with lots of twists and turns. The middle of the course I really like, it comes away from the road and runs along the river. It is lovely and peaceful when running along the river and I could have carried on going all day. Some people would find this part of the route boring, but I much preferred it to the busy road.
I had a great group of runners with me, and a good number that stuck with me from start to finish. The good thing about a flat course, it is easier to keep people with you. With a steady pace and even effort more people are likely to stick with it, when it is hilly people have to increase the effort to keep the pace, and this increase in effort is what makes people drop off.
I had lots of smiles as we made our way through the course and a number who broke their PB with me today. Phil was always pretty close by and we both started and finished together. As predicted the weather turned into a lovely day. Perfect running conditions. For a smaller event this has a great turn out with about 5,000 runners. There are also a few places, especially around the race village, that has groups of people cheering you on, which really helps.
I would definitely come back and do this course again. It is a really lovely little run in places, but to improve it needs to either close the roads we use or get us off the beaten track sooner. A good PB course if you are near the front, but the further back you are the more congested and difficult this would become.
I finished with a great group around me. A few pushed on towards the end and were waiting to say thank you. Many stuck with me, and there were lots of happy people at the end. I always love this part and today was a particularly good one.
There was easily a couple of dozen runners at the end that waited to thank me. This makes me happy, I don’t need the thanks, it’s just great knowing so many achieved their target.
At the finish we all received a decent medal and finishers tee, along with water, bananas and a goody bag. Not a bad spread. Overall a decent event, but with some work on the course to make improvements. Water was also in cups for half the aid stations and the other half were in bottles. I’m not sure why, but I would say they got this 50% right. I had a target time of sub 1:40:00 and managed to finish in 1:39:47 which I am really happy with.
Next up I have Oulton Half, Big Half, Surrey Half and then Limassol Marathon, I cant wait.
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