Along with 2000 others, I am here to run the Wholefoods Market Kingston Breakfast Run. Half will be running one 8.2-mile lap; the rest of us doubling up for 16.2 miles. The route runs along the Thames towpath to Hampton Court Palace before coming back through Kingston; it is scenic, but more importantly, nice and flat. The timing of the race is also a big appeal – with spring marathon season fast approaching, most will be using this as a gauge of fitness going in to the final taper.
Huddled together for the chilly 8am start in Kingston town centre, runners joke about smashing their 16.2-mile PBs, before revealing that (clearly) this is their first attempt at the distance. It might seem an odd distance, but if you think about it, it makes perfect sense. For the marathon runner, two or three weeks pre-race, a half is probably a bit too short but a 20-miler a bit too long. The 16.2-mile distance, on the other hand, now that sounds just about right!
That said, my race strategy was pretty chaotic: race hard to the half marathon distance, hopefully bagging a PB, then hold on for the final three miles. I imagine many others were doing the same. If you wanted to run quick, this race was perfect -it even had a 6min/mile pacer (although I manfully let him and a few others go after a kilometre or so). I settled into the second pack. It’s a bit tricky to know who to stick with in a multi-distance race like this: who’s going out hard and then going to slyly drop out after the first lap? I had my suspicions but made sure, just in case the folks I were with were going the whole hog. Between seven and eight miles a couple of guys charged past, revealing their hand at last. Going round for the second lap is reassuring; we all now know exactly where we stand.
Back down on the beautiful flat towpath heading up to Hampton Court, we hit the second lap. It’s a runners dream. This early on a Sunday as well there’s barely any traffic; normally it’s a cyclist and buggy jam. I pass the half marathon mark in 1hr 22mins, in the process securing the first objective of a PB half. Now time to hang on in. I manage to keep the pace going, passing a couple of flagging runners in the final mile. I cross the line feeling chuffed with ninth place and a 16.2 mile PB time of 1hr 41mins 47secs!
Good goody bags
The Wholefoods Market goody bag at the finish is outrageously good, by far the best I have got at the end of a race and definitely a big selling point of the race. With everything from a Coco Caffe espresso coconut water drink to apple chips and even luxury body wash, it beats the Lidl-sponsored Henley Half bag hands down. Another cool thing about the post-race side of things is the mug that you get instead of a medal. Let’s face it – medals are old news. Give me something useful like a mug or a bag any day of the week!
This is a top event, ideal for training for the spring marathon season or any longer stuff in April/May time. I’ll be back next year for sure. Might be a bit tougher to bag a PB though!
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