Date/Time: 10th May 2015 / 09:00
Location: Hackney Marshes, London
Distance: Half Marathon / 13.1 miles
Last year I took part in the first ever Hackney Half Marathon which saw us runners explore some of the beloved streets of East London. I thought the route, the crowds, the volunteers were all brilliant HOWEVER it will mostly be remembered for being the HOTTEST DAY EVER. With training taking part at the end of winter and the very beginnings of Spring I think it was safe to say that none of us were prepared for the insane heat wave that took over London that day. But depsite memories of melting into the pavement I was actually really looking forward to this race coming round again … this was until of course I got flippin’ injured 10 weeks ago (!?!)
So the race …
I was really excited about this race because for me East London is home. I live East and it’s where I meet with running family – Run Dem Crew – each week. The other reason why I was so excited for this race was because I knew so many of the crew would be hitting the streets too, and of course, those who can’t run CHEER! Cheer Dem would be in full effect, crew on the road and crew on the sidelines = happy running.
A quick group shot … and a few physio exercises first …
We set off to the starting pens with roughly 13,000 other people and at 09:00am on the dot the race began (I genuinely cannot name any other race that has started so perfectly in time so 10 points for that Run Hackney!) I had always planned to take this race slowly as annoyingly I am still coming back from injury so as much as I am desperate to go all out in a run and let my legs really push themselves I want to be able to keep going without causing any damage so steadily we set off on the “fast, flat route”. Readers let it be known that this is not quite the case. East London certainly isn’t known for it’s hills and I know many of my other incredible running friends would laugh at me but Run Hackney is not flat! Instead the routes offers quite a few cheeky little ups and downs which only highlighted how my legs are still getting used to running again.
One thing that had really stuck with me about this race last year was the amount of support along the route and once again this year the incredible people of London did not disappoint. Starting so early on a Sunday morning non runners would have been totally forgiven for staying in bed and enjoying a lie in but instead I don’t really remember any point of the route that was left unmanned, people were even cheering in their PJs!
As mentioned earlier, last year was the hottest day ever and so this year the organisers had planned for the race to take part a month earlier in hope of beating the sun, but obviously the weather gods had a thing for Hackney. May 10th, 2015 was another scorcher! Once again I spent 13.1 miles shade chasing, but at least this time there seemed to be a lot more water stations (either that or I noticed more this time) and each station was manned with plenty of smiley volunteers all offering words of encouragement and water in bottles, not squeezy, impossible to work, pouches last year! (another 10 points here Run Hackney for listening to feed back and offering bottles!)
If I am totally honest, for me, this race was extremely difficult. I struggled from about 3 miles onwards. The route offered variety, the crowds were fantastic, water was plentiful but my head was not ready for it. If you a runner your first injury is a funny old thing, regardless of where it is or how serious it messes with your head and I think this race really highlighted how much it had effected my mentality. HOWEVER, I knew that Lissy and Cheer Dem were waiting at mile 10 and seeing various members of my Run Dem family, including Daddy Dark himself, pass by I knew I had to keep going! At this point I would like to apologise for all my gorgeous friends for saying hello as they ran past … I think it’s just best to say I had my “game face” on and Paulie had to do all the talking for me … usually I smile when running but sadly not during this race.
This was until we got past the Mile 10 marker …
The noise from Cheer Dem could be heard all the way down at the bottom of the hill were they waiting on. Literally I could not wipe the smile from my face, the love and support that they give each and every single runner is just incredible but for me having so many incredible people to run through … well let’s say during an extremely tough race it made me extremely emotional and well … Cheer Dem you made my race.
The final 3 miles quickly (!?!) passed and the elation at crossing the finish line was unprecedented! We were handed a medal, a bottle of water, bananas, all the bounce balls we could get our hands on, a goody bag AND a tshirt (I actually really enjoy the tshirt). All in all I would say that the amount of goodies was actually seriously impressive!
So to recap – this race was tough for me. I didn’t spend the whole time smiling, it wasn’t a run where I thought hey I am running in the sunshine with so many friends, this is great! However, in terms of a race in London I actually think it is brilliant. Word of warning, plan your route – there were a few transport issues getting to the start due to lots of road closures, otherwise everything else seemed to run smoothly. Minimal queues, lots of space, to the second on time start, lots of water stations, lots of toilet opportunities (thanks to local cafe for letting me jump in!) and the post run treats bananas, bounce balls, popcorn and nakd bars were FANTASTIC! Run Hackney I will be seeing you next year!
Celebrating the only way we know how .. massive waffle “burger” for him … cake bigger than my face for me!