What do you get when you run a half marathon and a mile race in the same day? A double-dose of bling and who could say no to that? Certainly not this off-your-rocker running fanatic. Here’s why last Sunday 22 June 2014 was a race day and half (or should I say mile).
First up: Vitality Run Hackney Half Marathon 2014
Having lived a sixth of my life in Stoke Newington, Hackney, this area of London will always have a place in my heart. I’ve watched as Dalston has transformed from fairly grotty to still fairly grotty during the day but the life and the soul of the party at night. And with the opening of the new cinema in Hackney and a glut of designer outlets, this rough-round-the-edges side of London is becoming a destination for young hipsters. In their Fresh Prince-style dungarees and glitter heeled jelly shoes, they infiltrate the many coffee shops serving everything but Nescafe. And what a fine audience they made for the 12,500 runners or so who came through the streets of Hakkers last Sunday.
Running, jogging, plodding and racing, we were there to take home the all-important medal of this inaugural event. If I was to break down the course, I would say that we ran through the heart of Hackney but unfortunately I can only remember running past Becca from Snickerstomarathon at mile 6ish, the Pringle outlet round the back of the cinema (says a lot really) and the final three miles, which is best described as undulating paths of tarmac hell. And it’s probably the case that I was just in a funny old running zone but one thing I liked about the Paris Marathon was that they put up signposts of the sights as you passed them. Why shouldn’t Hackney do the same? After all, there is a lot of history in that part of town.
Organisation of the race
If you take a step back and look at the race as a whole, I’m sure you’ll agree that it was pretty well organised. I’ve lost count of the amount of times I was reminded to check transport links, was told it would be a 20-minute walk from Stratford station and to make sure I was prepared for hot water. Yes, there was a bit are argy bargy from me at the start as I climbed the barrier and tried to manoeuvre myself into the right time zone. I took a Nuun with me to drop into a bottle of water halfway round, only to be given a Capri Sun-style water pouch. That’s definitely a learning for next time on my part. I’m also no mathematician and my map reading in the past has been questionable (or questioned by one person in particular) but the final 100 yards seemed to go on and on and on. Finally, this was one of the first races my boyf has been to this year in the UK to support me so at least make sure he can grab a coffee. Early morning plus no coffee equals moany boyf and grumbles that running isn’t a spectator sport. Please hire one of those ruddy coffee vans to satisfy the disgruntled supporter.
All in all though, the Hackney Half Marathon was well-organised with plenty of stewards at every point of the race and a seamless finish. You have to give the organisers some leeway, it was the first of its kind and a pretty massive one at that. I also liked the fact that it began at 9am. Early races are good, believe me. It means that you can spend the rest of the day at one of those trendy rooftop bars OR taking part in another race. Bet you can’t guess which one I chose?
Duh duh duhhhhh: City of London Mile
What the hell, it’s only a mile or four times around a 400m track is how I rationalised this one to myself. And I receive yet another medal so that I can definitely give Mr T a run for his money. In my mind it was all so well planned. Finish the race in roughly 1:30 (1:36:19 not too bad with the heat), head back to Stratford, jump on the tube, alight (when else can you use this word?) at St Paul’s, pick up number, pin on shirt and go to start of the mile race with quarter of an hour to spare.
This isn’t quite what happened. It was more like wait for boyfriend to spot his colleague finish the race, wander back to Stratford with the clock ticking, arrive at St Paul’s at five to twelve (the race was at 12:15). Quickly swap numbers over, dump stuff at bag drop, head to First Aid to grab a plaster as my finger was bleeding furiously and then finally with all this adrenaline still pumping from the stress of will I/won’t I make it, head to the starting line. Phew.
The mile took you past St Paul’s Cathedral, the Bank of England and Guildhall. Come on, what were you expecting? It was a mile after all.
Organisation of the race
Despite the low turnout of the Half Marathon Cool Down crew, the organisation of this race was impeccable. I was worried about picking up my race pack etc.. but it was pretty easy. There was support along the way with drumming and I even spotted Leah from NaturallyLeah (I dumped the boyf at Westfields so he could find a coffee. The race organisers were also strict about start times as I did ask them to wait for a bloke I know called Tom, who I could see making his way to the start in the distance, but to no avail (and to their credit really). We were given medals and a pretty decent goody bag at the end and so came to a close my Sunday #RUNday. The only think I thought was a shame was the fact that so many participants of the Hackney Half didn’t make it in time or decided not to take part due to the heat. Yes, I was feeling a bit sick as by this point I’d probably swallowed half a pint of blood (I cut my finger on Saturday and it decided to bleed furiously throughout the Hackney Half) but I’m glad that I could do the City of London Mile. My time may not have been the best (6:46) but my legs weren’t too knackered afterwards, which is exactly the result I’m currently looking for.
This final quick mile was the perfect finale to my raceday and since it was all over by one, I had the rest of my Sunday to hit one of those trendy rooftop bars for a pint of cider or three.
How was your #runday or experience of the Hackney Half?