Following some technical issues, the blog is now back up and running! (Pun intended). The Hackney Half took place on 20 May. This is a guest post courtesy of Ivana.
The Hackney Half Marathon was decisively blue and yellow this year. More than two dozen City Runners took part, including several running their first ever half.
I tried to contain my expectations going into the race – mostly because my preparations in the week before the run consisted of eating pasta and painting my nails in the club colors. Having done Hackney twice before, I knew the last five kilometers of the course are particularly tough, with no shade and surprising amount of hills (well, undulations…but they feel like hills at that point in the race!)
Major LCR team spirit from Ivana
It was a big one this year, with a record 20,000 runners signed up. The start/finish area got really busy early on, which unfortunately meant those of us with nervous bladders were still stuck in the loo queue when the gun went off.
My plan was to start slow and try to keep slow, sticking to a sub-two pace for as long as possible. Because the race was so busy, I found it almost impossible to keep that pace while avoiding weaving through the crowds during the first five kilometers through Homerton and Hackney Central.
The support was pretty amazing. Who knew that Hackney residents would be up so early (or perhaps still out from a big night out?) just to watch sweaty crowds plodding around!
Tom, the picture of focus
We got some amazing cheers from our dedicated support crew – Steph, Leo, John, Helen and Tim worked their voices as hard, or perhaps even harder, than we did our legs.
The crowds of runners thinned out a bit by the time we got to Dalston, where bearded hipsters holding funny signs started to appear on the sidelines. I saw “Run Like You Stole Something” and “Pick a Cute Butt and Follow It”, but my favourite one was definitely “Run Faster”. What great advice.
I did manage to follow that tip throughout the next 10 kilometers, with the course following nice straight, flat road towards Haggerston, and then around the canal to Broadway Market and around Victoria Park.
Kerry, hard at work
As expected, things started to get a lot tougher once we entered the Olympic park. The combination of totally blue skies and loads of heat-reflecting concrete made me feel like I am running on the surface of the sun. I kept thinking about all the people running the London Marathon in similar conditions just a few weeks earlier and found a whole new level of awe for them.
It was so hot that when I spotted a thin strip of shade on the side of the road, I made a beeline for it, only to hear Tim and Helen on the other side of the road shouting my name. (Guys, I know it looked like I was trying to avoid you, but really, it was just the shade!).
Wan, in the zone
Once we got through the totally deserted concrete jungle at the back of the Olympic Stadium, things turned happier once again. The last two kilometers were totally fabulous, with crowds of supporters cheering their hearts out.
I got my medal and what felt like a well-deserved free banana and found the rest of the crew gathered around a giant City Runners flag in the race village.
There were cakes and beers (courtesy John, who came with a backpack full of both!), Tim’s special protein bars, and hours and hours of celebrations in the sun.
Kyoko looking happy on the way to a new PB!
Well done to everyone who got a new PB in those challenging conditions: Kyoko (2:01), Jonathan (1:51) and Jess (1:49).
And special shout out to Ian, who managed to complete his first ever half marathon, despite thinking the race is only 12 miles, sprinting towards the imaginary finish, only to realize there is still a substantial bit to cover. You got it, mate!
About the Author
Ivana (Ivi for short) took up running and joined the club after realising beer tastes the best after a long run with friends. She enjoys parkrun and signing up for races immediately after declaring she’d never run again.