Hackney Half Marathon
I stayed overnight at the Travelodge in Stratford. The race advertised that it was around a 15 minute walk from most stations on the Hackney downs and this looked like the best options. I had a pretty good night sleep the night before but as I was getting up way before breakfast I had managed to get some bagels, peanut butter and banana for my breakfast the day before. This went down surprisingly well. I think I will do this more often when I am away for races.
I set off fairly early as I didn’t know exactly where I was going and I am glad I did as within a couple of minutes it was clear the navigation on my phone was already sending me in the wrong direction. As the race instructions had only come via email (I had tried to print out a map but the quality of this was too poor) I had to work out where I was in relation to the Olympic park and head in that direction. I turned back and headed in the opposite direction. 10-15 minutes later I arrived in the Olympic Park. This was an impressive place, having never been here before I was taken aback at how much regeneration had happened in Stratford since the last time I had been. It was nice to take a stroll along the river on a Sunday morning but I wasn’t entirely sure where I was going to get to the start line. There was no one around but me and another 15 minutes rolled by and finally I saw something that resembled a race. I asked some marshals if I was going in the right direction, they told me to keep going. I kept walking, another 15 minutes passed and I finally saw more people heading towards what must be the race village at Hackney downs. When I finally arrived I had no time to meet up with people as I had planned but headed straight for the toilet queue which was huge. When I finally got out I headed straight to starting pen and according to my watch it was already time to start. I was in a panic. I had never been late for a race in my life. It was also so so hot. Another 15 minutes passed (no reason being given to why they were keeping us in the starting pens in the boiling sunshine) before a bleep and we were free to race. I gave some high fives on the way out of Hackney downs to some children and it was straight onto the streets of Hackney.
I am not terribly good at running in the heat and today's weather promised to be one of the hottest days of the year. By mile 3 and the sheer volume of runners I could feel myself struggling. The sun was getting stronger, there was no breeze at all. From very early on in the race there were a lot of people collapsing in the street, this just got worse as the race went on. By the time I had got to mile 9 I had a violent stabbing pain in my shoulder. I thought I had pulled something. I tried to jog on by half a mile later I knew I couldn't and I stopped. I trudged along and wondered what on earth I had done. I wondered if I could still finish, watching people collapse all around me. I tried to jog for 30 seconds and walk for 30 seconds. Counting every second as I went. I didn't pay much attention to the streets or people supporting. I was very much focussed on my pain, the heat and just finishing.
I was glad to see the Olympic Park again and running alongside was the best part of this race. Earlier in the morning I had noted that the mile 12 marker was near here so I knew I close to finish so I ran as much as I could.
Approaching Hackney Downs I saw a man stop in his tracks and he pulled up with an injury. I asked if he was ok and he said his knee was in pain. I told him the finish was just around the corner and told him I would run with him to the finish. So I grabbed his arm and we ran (I pulled him) to the finish. He thanked me and I had to sit down just past the finish line right next to a lady who couldn’t stand up. I got to talking to her and she’d collapsed after the finish and no one had seen to her. I helped her up and made sure she got her post race goodies. It was a case of helping yourself out of cardboard boxes strewn all over the floor. I saw her back to her friends and she thanked me and I headed to the vitality tent for a sit down in the shade to recover. I had managed to run/walk the half in 2:12:31 which wasn’t too bad considering.
After a rest I then had the massive walk back to Stratford. This for me put me right off this race when they promote it being close to rail networks and it isn't. I also found the organisation pretty poor. Certainly not my favourite vitality race. Although I really love the t-shirt, one of the best ones I’ve got from races this year.