Monday, September 19, 2016

Doh! Oh dear... A female deer! (Richmond Running Festival Half Review)

Richmond Running Festival - Half Marathon Review

Very hard to photograph when in motion...
Location: This is the ONLY running race which takes place in Kew Gardens. This automatically makes it freaking great. You go by a giant pagoda, you see amazing greenhouses that you wish you could have (if you even had a garden that would be a great start). Well OK, maybe not a greenhouse of that size, but come on London, a little patch of garden would be wonderful. The route is not limited to Kew, it also takes in the Thames path, turning around in a bit of a loopy fashion around Teddington Lock (the 10k turned around at Richmond Lock, and the marathon goes all the way towards Bushy Park before coming back) around Ham House.

Stuff to look at is at an all time high. Again, you don't really miss headphones. By the way, headphones are allowed, but like all races, they are strongly discouraged.

Bib Pick Up/Bag Drop: I did not have to utilise either of these on this race, as Mr. Moose acted as my bag drop and as I was in the UK they mailed me my race pack. Heartrunnergirl picked up her bib no issues. She also found another Dutch runner simply by looking at her shoes... that's what I call situational awareness! The end of the race is in Old Deer Park, but they bring your bags over so there is no trundling back to the start to get your stuff.

Loos: Well I knew there was going to be a wait at the beginning and for port-a-loos I cannot complain. This means A) there were no nasty surprises on the toilet seat AND B) there was toilet paper

I was told though that the loos at the end had crazy long queues. I cannot speak as to the validity of this as I did not utilise them.

'Will Run For Beer' takes on new meaning...
Atmosphere: More like your typical race vibe. As with any tow path and any given point in London, the constant battle between runner and cyclist was quite high. I just wish people would get along sometimes. I also wish people would not run with headphones during races, because they have no chance of hearing other runners or cyclists using the path. I know I know there is technically no difference between a runner just out for a jog and a runner with a bib on. I feel as though you are representing runners when you put a bib on-- so it behooves all runners to put your best foot (pun intended?) forward. Cyclists should feel the same way... I don't know I feel like I am talking in circles. It's a widely contested debate....and the battle rages on!

There was a man dressed as a Fuller's Beer-- he won the race in my eyes.

Drink Stops/Marshalls: I did grab a water at some point along the way and kept it with me for a few miles just to have a few sips until it was empty. They also had Lucozade, but personally I cannot handle the stuff when running-- too sugary and since I am clumsy I typically spill more on me than I drink, resulting in sticky hands. Lovely volunteers and little kids I said thank you to were picking up discarded bottles along the path.

I felt very sorry for the lovely marshall at the very end. She had the tough job of telling the half/full marathon runners to go left (a final, painful loop in a field where you could see/hear the finish) rather than go right (a nice straight sprint to the finish for the 10k). I tried to smile at her as I begrudgingly went left, but it probably looked like a grimace.

Check out my bling...
Post Race: I think I got the last bag from the finishing crew as people after me seemed to just be carrying as much as they could in their arms. I am happy to report they had plenty of fluorescent yellow (I am talking VERY yellow) racing shirts, so there was no worry of getting stuck with a circus tent or a body conscious size.  I contained my desire to hoard all teh coconut water and gleefully accepted my Fuller's ale. I also scored some sports 'jelly beans', a High 5 gel and a couple of High 5 Protein bars. Not going to lie, the protein bars look pretty horrendous, but don't worry they taste just fine.

Oh and the medal is also a bottle opener. I felt like they missed a trick giving us cans of beer rather than bottles, but I am pretty sure that was a smart move from a health & safety perspective.

The band at the end was pretty great, and we spent an hour or so sitting on the grass, stretching, drinking and just enjoying the vibe before heading back via Richmond station.

Conclusion: From a race perspective I highly enjoyed it. The course was flat but interesting, the crowds supportive, and the goody bag quite fabulous. Again the fact the race starts in Kew makes this a unique one to add to your race calendar. Good transport links to both the start and finish, although some would argue the District Line should never be classified as 'good' (I swear it gets slower every time I take it... but darn it the old girl she still gets you there).

Personally-- I had two goals in this race. The first was to run it in its entirety, something which after Bacchus I was not sure I was ready to do. Second was to keep my pace under a certain time. Save for the first mile I was well under that. So even though this was my slowest half marathon that I can recall, I feel proud that I accomplished what I wanted to do. It gives me that little boost of confidence, and a glimmer of hope that maybe not all is lost and maybe I can achieve my marathon goal if I just keep the faith and stay true to my training.