Race Report: Royal Parks Half
The Royal Parks Half Marathon is easily the most popular race in London. So, how does it measure up on all the important stuff?
Great. Emails (but not an excessive amount) sent out in the months leading up to the race with training tips etc. Race pack sent out a couple of weeks before race day.
No expo – all race packs were mailed before the race. On race day there was a ‘festival area’ where all the charity tents were and food stalls. I found it odd that you had to pay for the food. The festival area was open to runners and spectators. I think it would’ve been good to give the runners a food voucher to grab some free grub after running 13 miles. Just a small gripe – no biggie.
Start and finish points are at the bottom on Hyde Park, easy to get to by public transport and easy to find in the park – plus there are tons of volunteers (very happy ones at that!) to give directions and help.
Royal Parks is most definitely one of the most popular races in London. Well, when it comes to half marathons, we really only have this or Run to the Beat and route wise, there’s really no competition. This is why Royal Parks is so oversubscribed every year. Ballot places go incredibly fast, places for sale, just as quickly. As such, it is a congested race. Difficult to get a PB on, if that’s you’re aim but I do know people who’ve done it. The first six miles of the route are a great sightseeing tour through central London, then the latter part of the race has you snaking through Hyde Park. I’m personally not a massive fan of running in parks in general, so for me, this part of the race can get a bit boring and does feel like you’re just going around in circles (which, for all intents and purposes, you are). That being said though, it is picturesque and the park looks lovely at this time of year.
There’s always a good crowd at Royal Parks. One great thing about the route is that once you get into the park portion, it’s really easy for spectators to get from point to point so you get to see your supporters more than once, which can really be a great boost. There are plenty of reps from charities there making lots of noise and great crowds especially along the last half mile, which is really needed.
On Route Drinks and Snacks
There were five water stations along the route with water and Lucozade. They were clearly marked and well staffed.
Official T Shirt
I believe Royal Parks runs a competition each year to design the T Shirt – as such, it always has a cool design on the back. Lots of people were wearing it on the course.
Given that it’s a Parks race and it’s all about sustainability and what have you, the medal is made of wood, shaped like a leaf. It’s the same medal each year, with the lanyard changed. I really like the medal – it’s really different to any you’ll get on any other race, but I do wish they’d play around a bit with the design.
Great. This year the timing chip was attached to the race number, which saved all that faffing you usually have to do to removing it from your shoe. Volunteers funneled finishers back into the festival area quickly and the bag check area was a breeze.
Marks out of 10: 8/10 – if there was a way to avoid so much snaking through the park, this could easily be a 10.