Wednesday 3 October 2012

First class at Ealing's first half; race review of Ealing half marathon

Sunday 30th September was Ealing’s big day. Over 4500 racers filed into pretty Lammas Park to take part in their first half marathon. I was one of them.

I chose to run Ealing half marathon as it was billed as a fast flat course. I wanted a race where I would have a chance of getting a pb so this criteria was essential for me. It was also located in my neck of the woods (London) and was held at around the right time of year I wanted to run.

Even before the race I had good feelings about the organisation of the race. @Ealinghalf were active, friendly and responsive on twitter, and I received plenty of email updates and information through the post about the race.

At the HQ the pre-race portaloo queue time was around 10 minutes (fair), and bag check in a mere 30 seconds (excellent). Unfortunately pre-start waiting time was a little longer. We were all herded into the start pens according to our estimated finish time. We waited. And waited. And waited. Word soon spread that an incident had occurred on the course (a car had driven into a lamppost!), hence the delay in starting.

After a 20 minute delay the horn finally sounded. We were off! As normal at the start of races, there was some crowding in the first 1-2km, which then eased off as people separated out. However I was able to run at my pace from the start, which often does not happen in larger events and can be very frustrating if you are aiming for a pb.

The course was very urban and very twisty. One runner described the route map as “something someone had made up after a few pints in the pub – all over the place!”

Expecting a flat course I was surprised to find quite a few hills along the way. Fell and trail runners probably wouldn’t have noticed the inclines, but for someone who may have skipped one too many hill training sessions they hurt. However, where there are ups, there are always downs and the change in incline also made for a fairly interesting course too as you had more to think about.

The day was blessed with near-perfect weather. Cool but with sunshine and blue skies. Ealing is renowned for being a leafy part of London, so even though the course was all roads, it was a very pleasant route to run.

The support from the crowds and crew were also brilliant. I guess partly because of the weather, and partly because the event was new to the area, there were a surprising amount of people who had come out to watch.

The route was clearly marked out and manned. Water was given out along the way at appropriate points. One thing I loved was that we were given small bottles of water rather than cups, which were so much easier to drink from. Bar the lamppost incident at the start, the organisation was first class.

The race finished back in Lammas Park. With claps, cheers, a welcome drink and not-so-welcome slap on the back I finished. Everyone received a goody bag and a medal. Disappointingly there was no t-shirt inside. However we were given a can of beer which was unusual but fine by me!

I got the pb I wanted from Ealing half marathon but it was not as fast as I hoped for. If I had known the course was as twisty and undulating as it was I may not have originally signed up. However, I would have then missed out on a cracking first half marathon. Well done Ealing! I’m looking forward to next year. I may just do a bit more hill training first.
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