Run Hackney was a definite must-do on my list as soon as I heard about the race earlier this year. There aren’t many half-marathons in London, so I was keen for the chance to run through the closed streets of the capital and get to know East London a little better.
The race village was fairly easy to get to- a few stops on the Central Line to Stratford then a walk through the Olympic Park. We arrived at Hackney Marshes for 8am, and already the sun was up and the weather was warm. Glen dropped off our bags while I met up with Lauren, Jen, Kiera and Charlie.
I joined the 2-hour area of the pens and waited to move forwards towards the starting line. There were no bottlenecks or hold-ups at any point, thanks to the wide closed-off roads, I felt like I had plenty of space to run.
Sixteen minutes into the race I noticed my TomTom Runner watch wasn’t working and hadn’t recorded any distance, so I decided to just switch it of and run on feel without taking any notice of my pace.
I felt pretty good for the first 8-9 miles of the race, the course took us through Homerton, up to Hackney Downs, on to Haggerston Park then to Broadway Market. Parts of Hackney were familiar to me, but some areas were completely new so I took in the sights along the way as we passed by housing estates, shops and green areas. I kept to the sides of the course trying to find shade under trees- I know from recent races that I struggle in the heat so I wanted to keep out of the glare of the sun as much as possible.
|Photo from Run Hackney’s Facebook page|
There was loads of support out on the course- kids giving high-fives and steel bands playing. I knew my friend Jon would be watching at Mile 6, so I kept a look out for him but somehow managed to run straight past without seeing him.
The water stations were placed regularly throughout the course- I’ve read lots of reports of there being a shortage of water but thankfully for me water seemed to be plentiful at every station. The pouches of water were a little difficult to drink from however! Shop keepers were also handing out bottled water and locals were hosing down runners from their gardens.
We entered the Olympic Park just before mile 10, and as many other people have said- this was the toughest part of the half-marathon. There was no shade and the heat was unbearable. The route looped back on itself several times and the rolling hills of the park were totally energy draining. I decided to take walking breaks every 200-300 metres as I was struggling to keep going. All around me people were laying unconscious at the sides of paths, it was terrifying to see so many people in need of medical attention. My focus was to finish the race without worrying about my speed, as this wasn’t the time to go for a PB and risk getting ill. I texted Glen at Mile 11 to tell him I was struggling.
|Photo from Run Hackney’s Facebook page|
The route finally turned back towards Hackney Marsh, I didn’t want to walk across the finish line so I picked myself up for a slow jog. I decided I’d rather not know my time for this race, but as soon as I crossed the finish line I received a message congratulating me in finishing in 2:14:45- I forgot that I’d signed up to get a text with my finishing time! Way off a PB, but I’m not worried, there will be other races.
I met up with Glen who had finished in 1:37- he always manages a fantastic time in any conditions!
The goody bag was great- full of healthy snacks which meant that my lunches for work for the week were sorted! I sat down in the shade to recover while we waited our friends to meet us for lunch. I came over feeling really ill at this point, I felt like I was going to throw up/pass out/poo myself all at the same time! Glen said I had turned pale (even more than usual) and he was worried about me. I think the combination of sun/running/too much water/sickly ShotBloks was too much for me. We headed to the Dalston Superstore and after a lunch of feta and courgette salad I felt back to normal!
Overall, I thought this was a really well organised race with a great turnout of supporters and a fantastic atmosphere. The ambulance staff and marshalls did a fantastic job to ensure everyone was looked after. Personally, I wouldn’t do this race again- summertime half-marathons are not for me, I can’t handle the heat! My next half is in October, so hopefully a cooler day.