Sunday 19 March was a very gray and windy day, not quite the weather me and my mum were hoping for as we were about to run the Salomon Richmond Half Marathon. This was going to be my mum’s third half marathon (after saying Brathay would be her one and only!). We’d entered it before Christmas and had both been training since then but because of various reasons (mainly injury and travel) neither of us felt that we had trained as well as we could have.
Rather than worrying about it, we decided to run the race purely for fun and just enjoy the route.
And for a London race, the route is a rather lovely one. Starting off at the Old Deer Park you skirt around Kew Gardens before joining the Thames. From then on the majority of the race is run on the path of the river Thames and alongside a nature reserves. It’s surprising when you think you are running in a big city that there is so much greenery.
I thought the Richmond Half Marathon was well organised. The advantage of entering early was that we had received our race number and chip timer in advance so all we needed to do was turn up and run. However, there was a signposted desk for anyone who needed to pick up their number on the day. They had also provided changing tents, something which would be good at more races. Quite often I like to have a nice lunch after a race and don’t want to be in my race clothes when eating!
The one thing there was a queue for was the portaloos. As with many races the ratio of runner to portaloo wasn’t quite right, even though there seemed to be plenty. A number of runners sped past us after we started having obviously missed their starting time, probably from being in the queue!
As the race is run on public roads which aren’t closed during the race everyone sets off in waves, depending on your predicted time. It was very clear in the race information we were sent what time our wave would set off. Of course, we still got there nice and early so we could soak in the race village atmosphere and do our warm up.
The route is a fairly flat one with the only inclines being the short stretch of road from leading from the river. This means it is a perfect PB route and the organisers had pacers to match. The quickest pacer was for a finish time of 1:30 and the last pacer was for 2:30 which made it ideal for runners of all speeds.
We opted to go out with the 2:20 pacer, aiming to finish somewhere between 2:30 and 2:20. There was a short walk from the race village to the start line and we weren’t held too long before we set off. The first two miles are mainly on road alongside the walls of Kew Gardens. Not the prettiest but a good stretch of road to really find your pace.
Just after mile 2 you are on the Thames path along the river. The path is very uneven and the race info had said it can get muddy if it rains. Luckily for us the rain held off but you do have to be aware of the uneveness of the ground. Unfortunately for my mum she took a tumble on this path just after mile 3. She has hypermoblity which means her ankle isn’t very stable and can decide to overcompensate when on uneven ground. Thankfully, she didn’t hurt herself badly and was able to keep on running but what was fantastic was the number of runners who stopped to check she was alright. She even had two women ask if she wanted to run with them for a while, which was such a kind gesture.
The route does a little detour from the river around mile 5. Although this was flagged up in the race info, was sign posted and had marshals directing people I still saw some runners try and carry straight on along the river path. Perhaps bigger signs might be needed for this area.
After the detour it is back on the Thames path towards Ham. One thing I liked about running by the Thames was seeing all the rowers on the river and other boating activity.
At mile 6 we went away from the river path again and through some rather lovely woods and along side a polo club where some horses were being exercised. The route then follows residential streets alongside a nature reserve until you are back on the river path. You then start your return journey back along the river to the finish line.
By the time we were on our return segment the path had become a lot busier. As I mentioned the route is kept open to the public so there are a lot of people milling about and having a nice morning walk along the river. This meant you got some cheers, from a dad holding his baby aloft for high fives, to people cheering and shouting encouragement, it all contributed to a nice atmosphere.
For the very final part of the race you have to pass the finish line before looping back. I always find it disappointing to see the finish line and know you have to run further before you cross it!
We crossed the line in 2:29:53, just scraping under 2:30! It’s not the best time for a half marathon for us but it was really enjoyable and a good route. I’d definitely run this race again, it’s the flattest half I have done and certainly has PB potential. I just hope next time I’m injury free and can really put my training in!