A pattern is emerging. And it’s not entirely my fault. But you may as well call me the Mad Hatter because for the second time in a row I was late to the start line. Only this time, I was actually or most probably the last person to start the Lidl Kingston Breakfast Run 2017 20.1 miles. Putting that aside for a moment, here’s a little rundown of this year’s event.
Alongside the Cranleigh 20-mile race, the Surrey Spitfire 20 and a bunch of other similar distance races (Maverick has a few), the Lidl Kingston Breakfast Run is a great shout if looking for a 20-miler under your belt before that Spring marathon.
It’s breakfast not brunch
But here’s the stickler. It’s not easy to get there on time when you live on the other side of London. Having run the 16.2-mile route previously, I’d known how difficult it can be to get there for the 8:30am start from East Finchley. So when I saw that the race started at 8am on a Sunday, my first thoughts of “great, that means it’ll be over sooner and I’ll have the rest of the day to spend with my husband” was replaced with “oh cripes, how on earth am I going to get there?”.
The only option was a 7:16am train from Waterloo which was going to be tight.
Come raceday and the 7:16am was running late, I needed the loo before I started and when the gun fired, I was still waiting in the loo queue. With no choice but to jump the bag drop off line, my race began about 10 minutes after the other runners.
You win some, you lose some.
Three races in one morning
No, I’m not talking about me. Now that would be crazy. What I’m talking about is the Breakfast Run. With three distances to choose from: 8.1 miles, 16.2 miles and 20.1 miles, you can find a race that will challenge those 10K runners looking to up their game or those on the path to marathon glory. Breaking it down further:
• 8.1 miles – one lap of the course
• 16.2 miles – two laps of the course
• 20.1 miles – two laps of the course plus an extra 4-mile loop during the first lap
Queues for loos
Every runner has their own routine. Mine always involves a loo stop beforehand. I jumped off the train with the hope that I’d get in at the station. No such luck. The queue for the loos at the race were ridiculous. I know you can never have enough but maybe a system that allowed for us last-minute starters to jump the queue could be put in place at this race where you really are against the clock.
The course has its moments
I’m not going to say this is the best course I’ve ever run. You simply can’t compare it to some trails. What I will say is that the route runs partly alongside the river and past Hampton Court Palace which on a sunny day is rather stunning. Plus it’s a reminder to organise a paddle-boarding afternoon from Putney to Hampton Court (something I’ve wanted to do for 2 years now).
Plus a hand with your pace
Whether you want to sprint it out or take it more slowly, the Kingston Breakfast Run is well equipped with pacers to keep you on track. As a late starter, I was unable to find the pace I was aiming for but it’s worth having a goal before you start and sticking to it.
The post-race chip results are also broken down so you can see your pace and work out ways to improve on your performance in future. It’s useful to see what pace you can steadily work at.
But beware of the crowds
As I said above, this isn’t the first time I’ve run this race organised by Human Events. In fact, I have two mugs on my desk from previous races (when it was sponsored by Whole Foods). The addition of the 20.1-mile event has added to the crowds.
Particular moments spring to mind such as when you rejoin the other two races at around mile 8 or 9. Suddenly, you are faced with runners at various different paces and speeds, which means you have to adjust and try to get around as safely as possible. The bottleneck continued for quite a few miles and I couldn’t run freely until the end of the first loop and the 8.1-mile race had finished.
Putting my own dislike of crowds aside, these traffic jams are not necessarily a bad thing in terms of prep for those major city marathons. More likely than not, you’ll find yourself having to weave in and out of runners while finding your pace.
And mile markers
Another disadvantage of multiple lapped races along the same course is the mile markers. It’s not exactly confusing but knowing that the race was 20.1 miles and not 20 miles, I tended to look to the middle distance to work out how long I had left to go.
Good support all round
Hats off to all the volunteers who take their time out to guide us around the course. The Kingston Breakfast Run is brilliant in terms of stewarding and involving local scout/cadet groups to keep you going. From the bag drop area and medical support to marshalls and volunteers manning the water stops, you are never far from help throughout the race.
A fantastic goody bag and mug
Controversial as it may sound, I treasure my Breakfast Run mug far more than most of the medals that I own (the exceptions being the Marathon des Sables bit of bling, my Maverick bottle opener and Mill Hill Marathon medal).
For one, I can and do use it for my morning cup of chai at work. Besides the mug, you also receive a Lidl Bag for life packed full of goodies including peanut butter, peppermint tea, muesli, breakfast bars, shower gel and much more…And no matter what distance you do, all runners get the same treats, which is how it should be.
Chipped timing results
Despite my rather late start (my gun time was 2:42), I managed to get around in 2:32 which was texted to me while I hastily ran to the train station trying to get the 11:06 back to London. (It was also Mother’s Day so I wanted to see my Mum, which inadvertently spurred me on to run faster.) Now that’s efficiency for you.
You’ll become a regular
Despite the early start and route crowding, the Breakfast Run is worth considering as a warm up to marathon season.