On the 30th September 2018 I took part in the Ealing Half Marathon for the second time. I first took part as the 1:40 pacer in 2015, and absolutely loved the event. The only thing that has kept me away is timing, as in 2016 I took part in the Inaugural Disney Half Paris, and in 2017 I ran Berlin Marathon. I was really pleased to be able to come back this year and pace the 1:40 #funbus. This is the 2nd time I’ve paced Ealing, the 23rd time pacing for Xempo, and the 59th official event I have paced.
As always I got my kit ready the night before. In the morning it was an early start, but only a 45 minute drive for me as it’s fairly local. Kirsty packed me and the kids into the car and minus one wrong turn we were there in no time. We parked in a side road for free, only a couple of minutes walk from the start line.
I made my way to the Xempo tent to get ready. It was a great atmosphere in the park and we were fortunate to have good weather. At Ealing the toilets were out of the way from the rest of the village, nicely spaced out and plenty of them, so there were no queues when I went. It’s always a good start when you dont have to queue forever for a toilet. The organisation for the whole event was really slick.
After our group pacer photo it was time to make our way to the start line. We went to the start for about 8:30 so we could be in place and help runners get to the right area for a 9:00 start. I was pacing with Simon today and we made our way to where we thought we would be starting, and it was pretty empty when we arrived. It didnt take long for it to start filling up and before long we had a full #funbus.
I spoke with everyone around us and we had many runners aiming to break 1:40. It was good to see lots of new faces, and a few who I have also paced at previous races. I gave my normal talk at the start to give everyone a bit of a brief about our pacing strategy. It’s always a good way to get to know people and try to give them a last little confidence boost.
We started really strong with great crowd support. For a medium size event with about 6,000 runners it has fantastic support from the community from start to finish. There were lots of volunteers on course, and water was given out in small bottles. We approached mile after mile bang on time. The mile markers were well positioned, but owing to not following the blue line we had to keep adjusting slightly to stay on track.
At mile 4 we had just completed the first reasonable hill, and everyone was still smiling. The long inclines weren’t too bad, especially as the course has lots of long declines that more than compensate for the up. At this point we were on target with a 10 second cushion. The course really is lined with so many supporters, its fantastic. You twist and turn through residential roads, and are never without support. There were lots of people holding signs, giving out sweets, and music playing. I kept a strong group with me throughout and shouted support as we went along. At about mile 6 you are on an incline and can see the mile 10 marker coming back, we also witnessed the front runners coming past. There was a pretty long incline, but it was great to see that we would be doing the opposite on the way back.
At mile 8 I still had a couple of dozen runners with me and Simon. I picked people up as I ran past, giving them a little encouragement, and a few pulled ahead. At about 8.5 miles it’s the worst hill of the course, but this didnt last long and at about mile 9.5 it was a long decline, and it was pretty much downhill all the way to the finish.
I adjusted the pace each mile marker and it fluctuated slightly because of the undulations, but we were averaging 7:34 and were on track for a 15 second cushion. The last mile is inside the park, and the signs were great at providing a countdown.
The finish line is narrow as it’s on a path, but it also means the support appears more dense and it was a great crowd. As I was on the finish straight I had encouraged everyone to get ahead of me, and only had a couple of remaining stragglers who managed to catch us up.
The crowds responded well as I shouted for some support for the remaining runners. As I crossed the finish line it was good to hear the familiar voice of Susie Chan who called me over to have a chat.
I am pleased that my official time was 1:39:49 with a consistent even pace, and lots of very happy runners. I was greeted by a number of runners at the end pleased to have hit PB’s and exceed their target. A great course, great organisation and a lovely day to go for a run.
At the end we were given our medals and walked through to get snacks and water. There wasnt a finishers tee, which is absolutely fine for me, but I know some will have wanted one. I know that Ealing have received rewards every year from the Running Awards for this event, and it’s easy to see why. An event I will gladly run again and again.
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