Running in it’s second year with Virgin Sport and fifth year overall. It’s a flat and fast half marathon and the route takes runners past landmarks like Hackney Downs, Hackney Empire, Broadway Market, Victoria Park and London Stadium, with plenty of cheer points located along the route and local bands and DJs providing live music.
The weather was cool that morning of the race, but it was forecast to get warmer later. From Stratford station it was around a 25 min walk, I really didn’t have any idea where I was going. But thankfully there were crowds of runners all walking to the race village so I just followed everyone else. I expected the walk to be much longer, but arrived in no time.
The atmosphere was amazing, music, runners and their families. The Hackney Festival of Fitness offered free fitness on the main stage, activities for children, a climbing wall, the ASICS wellness zone – Recovery, Wellness & Workshop Zone, and some of the best in local food vendors.
There were 2 start pens A – E or F -J, this was dependant on the time you specified when you signed up to the race. Unfortunately due to the long toilet queues I missed the start of my pen and had to join the end of the second pen.
I did feel quite annoyed having waited half an hour for the toilet, but I soon forgot it and just went into the race with a clear head and with no expectations. My usual routine was was to start my race with a SIS Go Caffeine Shot usually half an hour pre-race.
I started off slow until I got into a rhythm and then picked up the pace slightly. I could feel the temperature getting warmer. Felt calm and focused all the way to mile 7, hydrated at the water stations located at mile 1.5, 3.25, 4.75, 6.25 and Nuun Electrolytes station at mile 6.25 and even saw some friends, but then the nightmare started at mile 8. I don’t quite know what happened, but my legs suddenly turned jelly and literally couldn’t put one foot in front of the other.
At that point I had to make a quick decision finish or not finish the race!? in my head… there’s still 5 miles to go. I knew it was going to be tough, but I pushed and carried on. A slower pace was the key to get to the finish line.
I dug deep, really pushing myself, legs were hurting, decided it might be a good idea to add a SIS Energy gel so did that at mile 9. Unfortunately it didn’t take affect straight away, so I carried on taking it slowly and taking fuel where it was available.
At around 10.5/11 mile I knew the gel had kicked it as I felt a burst of energy, this really helped me run up the hill and reach mile 12. I knew there was only a mile and a bit to go, but it was tough. Pushing to finally reach mile 13, I could see the finish line in the distance and some how picked up my pace and sprinted to the end.
Overall it was a brilliant race, fully marshalled, friendly staff, and plenty of toilets. Despite having a generous amount of toilets, the queues were ridiculously long. The bag drop was well organised as we were given drawstring bags with our numbers attached to them, which made them easy to identify. There were no queues, moved quickly, accessible and was manned by very efficient staff.
The water stations were on point located at mile 1.5, 3.25, 4.75, 6.25, 8.25, 9.5, 11.25, and 12, there was definitely plenty to go round and loved the water showers around the route. Nunn Electrolytes were provided at mile 6.25 and 11.25, I made sure I took advantage of these, which really helped me finish the race, there were also High Five Energy gels at mile 8.25. Top marks to Virgin Sport, Nunn and High Five for the hydrate and fuel along the race course organised fantastically.
Virgin Sport together with their founding partner Asics offered training runs at the Asics Regent’s Street this was a great way to meet other fellow runners and to get to know our pacers which was perfect if you had a target time in mind.
It was great to see so many fellow runners before and after the race, and I would definitely take part in this race again as I thought the atmosphere and the crowds were absolutely amazing. I was disappointed I was not able to find any race photos of me, despite giving us them for free.
If you like to take part in the next year’s race click on the tab on this page: Virgin Hackney Half Marathon and register your interest.