At the end of August, someone in my running club was keen to transfer their Royal Parks place to someone else, as they had a marathon the weekend before and the weekend after. I’ve applied for the ballot a few times, but never been successful, so I decided to go for it.
After and then before!
As it started at 9 (and there were possibly train strikes), we stayed in London the night before, so I did Panshanger parkrun first and then we headed into London in the afternoon.
Panshanger parkrun scenes
Hyde Park, Crosstown (one each for Saturday and one each for Sunday), steps and a pumpkin spice latte from Bird and Blend.
Of course we had to go to Crosstown- excitingly we went to the all-vegan one in Soho which meant I could choose from anything! Although it was sad news that they no longer do the Pip and Nut Almond Butter scroll one. We had to walk to the race village to pick up my race number, which apparently was posted (but in mid-November it has still not arrived). Between walking there, walking to Crosstown and walking to Bird and Blend I somehow managed 40,000 steps- possibly not ideal the day before a half!
The morning of the race was beautiful- cold but blue skies and no wind- perfect. The race village was really organised, and you only got into your starter pens a few minutes before the start- until then you were in the village and they called each colour pen. In my training I’d not run as many long runs as I would have liked, due to fitting the long runs around junior parkrun, so I was aiming for anything around 2 hour 15 mark. I ended up around the 2hr 10 pacer for most of the run, (although of course it’s chip time and I think they started behind me) so I was pleased with 2:15:29 as my final time. I only looked at my watch once at the half way point, and tried to run on feel. I took photos as I ran around, and really made the most of seeing all of the London landmarks. I really enjoyed the part in the park, even though it felt as if we looped back a lot, I liked looking out for runners going in the other direction.
I hadn’t sorted the app or anything, and Andy was going to meet me at the finish, so I put an air tag in my pocket so he could see where I was. This worked well until I got close to the finish area, as then it was so busy, none of the mobile networks were working. I managed to find him quickly.
I chose to have a tree planted instead of getting a finishers t-shirt, and we were quickly given water (in a can), a banana (hooray), medal (made of wood), a buff, a reusable bag (which I use loads as it folds up neatly into a pocket so is really handy) and a teddy, and then the t-shirt people were directed one way and the tree people another way. Later on I received an email with a photo of my sapling and the what three words showing where it is planted (somewhere in Scotland). I really loved that aspect and hope that more races follow that lead.
We paid £10 to get a late 2pm checkout (Premier Inn), so we headed back to the hotel and I had time for a shower before we checked out. Mildred’s was around the corner so we went there for lunch, although I ended up having their blueberry pancakes and a delicious carrot, apple and ginger juice. So good.
I think I spent the rest of the afternoon on the sofa catching up on Disney movies and Taskmaster! All in all a great weekend. I am not sure I’d do it again as it was expensive to stay in London, but I am so glad that I got to experience it one year.