On 6th October 2019 I took part in the Kingston Half Marathon as the 1:40 pacer. As always this is my review of the race, from my perspective as an official pacer. This was the 2nd time I have taken part in the Kingston Half Marathon as the 1:40 pacer, although I have ran many events that share parts of the same course. Thames Ditton, Richmond, Hampton Court, and Kingston all run along the same tow path. Today was my 79th event as an official pacer, 44th for a half marathon, and 27th for Xempo.
My planning always starts the night before, as I do a #flatlay to ensure I have everything I need. Running for Xempo I can wear whatever I want, and I know my flag and bib will be ready for me at the start.
With an 08:30 race start I was up at 06:30 to make sure I got in on time. I was not looking forward to the race as it was torrential rain when I woke up. We were lucky with the weather though, and by about 07:30 the rain stopped and it actually turned into a nice day. No matter how good the event organisation is, you can’t control the weather.
I always like pacing for Xempo as it is well organised and nice and relaxed. I arrived at 07:30, there is plenty of parking in side roads, and I made my way to the start area in the centre of Kingston market. It is a small and simple set up. I went to the toilets first which are out of the main area, when I got there I didn’t queue at all which was good. I then dropped my bag off, again with no queues.
After a team brief from Dan we made our way to the start. It’s a mass start, but we line up alongside our target time. I was pacing the 1:40 #funbus with Jake and we soon had a good group form around us. I spoke with everyone discussing our race strategy, and filling them with confidence. It was nice to be joined by a number of runners who had been paced by me before. It was also lovely to be congratulated for Berlin, so thank you.
When we got started it was very busy, and I kept my group back. There is no need to worry or try racing around people at the start. Instead I just eased us into the right pace, and after a few hundred metres we were at target pace. The first few miles is in and around the town centre, so it is very technical. We started off as a big group, but gradually Jake pulled off ahead slightly which enabled us to spread out our group. I stuck with just a couple of seconds per mile ahead of target, and Jake created a gap and most of our group stuck in between the two of us.
This is a smaller but pleasant run. Water is in cups every 3 miles, and the marshals and spectators were great. After leaving the town centre most of the route was along the tow path. The path isn’t wide, but it was never congested.
My group slowly got smaller, but this was good, as I encouraged them to push on, and they pulled ahead. There were lots of smiles the whole course, and we managed to hit each mile marker pretty perfect. There were a couple of points GPS wasn’t great but I maintained pace and each mile marker we were on target, at mile 5 we were 20 seconds ahead of schedule and we maintained this until the finish.
I called out our splits at each mile marker and also broke up the course lettig everyone know how well they were doing. It is usually in the last 4 miles of a half that people start flagging, so I try pushing them on. We also caught up with runners who started ahead, so I tried picking them up as we went along too. At mile 10 we were 15 seconds ahead of schedule and I told everyone to start picking up the pace if they could.
It was a lovely run, and as we went into the final mile I had everyone pull ahead of me. I often have a few people still behind, but approaching the finish everyone had passed me. Everyone did such a good job. Jake slowed towards the finish and it was nice to finish together with all of our runners ahead of us. What was really special was dozens of runners were waiting at the finish and clapped us in. There were lots of handshakes and sweaty hugs. So lovely for people to make the effort to come and say thank you. This made my race, so thank you all.
My official finish time was 1:39:44, which I’m happy with for a sub 1:40 target. We were given a nice medal and tee at the finish.
Next up I have Chicago and New York marathons, who is with me?