The Vitality Big Half

The inaugural staging of a half marathon starting on Tower Hill and running out to Canary Wharf and back over Tower Bridge through south London to the Cutty Sark in Greenwich.  Almost the London Marathon route but not as long and in reverse!!

When this new half marathon went up for sale, the sun was shining in the sky and temperatures were balmy.  I can’t actually remember to be honest but it was August so we’ll  kid ourselves into thinking it was.  Even looking ahead, you’d still expect the weather to be reasonable at the beginning of March – well I would because the day after the run was my birthday and the sun always shines on my birthday!  This year, however, snowmaggedon caused havoc, and right up until the day before, it wasn’t entirely clear if the run would go ahead.  And even if the organisers gave the go ahead, there was the more localised issue of travel and transport.  But in the end everything went smoothly, for us in north west Kent anyway.  As with any event of this size, participants from around the country had signed up and some of them were not so lucky, but at least they were given the opportunity to take part in a virtual half marathon and still claim their medal.


Old and New

For such a “local” event, we had to leave at an extraordinarily early hour to ensure we got there in time, before the baggage lorries departed for the finish line at Greenwich.  And then there was the inevitable hanging around for the individual wave starts.  But one of the great things about this event was the toilets – and how often do runners say that!!  They were everywhere and the queues were minimal, each wave pen had its own supply and runners were “popping in” for the last emergency wee while we were waiting for our call forward to the start line.  And perhaps because there were so many, they weren’t in too bad a condition – if you know what I mean!

Tower bridge.jpg

On our way to the Tower!

The only issue I had with my starting pen was the GPS signal, stuck between two London office buildings, it was practically non-existent so I was waving my arms in the air like I just didn’t care!!  Eventually I managed to locate satellites – phew!!  The amazing (or really annoying) thing was that although I struggled above ground, once we went through the Limehouse Link tunnel, my watch maintained a signal the whole time!  Doh!!

Tower bridge1.jpg

Despite managing to acquire some jelly babies at the last minute (having become used to the excellent SVN style “catering” and forgetting I would need my energy levels topped up), my first refuelling opportunity was when I passed a spectator handing out Haribo.  Running – the one occasion when you ignore your mum’s instructions not to take sweets from strangers!

The run itself went pretty much as you would expect when you don’t do any specific half marathon training!  I managed to get to 13k (Bermondsey tube station – I didn’t realise Bermondsey had a tube station!) before introducing the walking.  For the next three kilometres, I adopted a “walk a minute, run to the next kilometre mark” approach and for the final 3 miles, I adopted the walk/run combo which my 0-5k running group would be using the following week, ie, 1 min walk/7 mins run.  And for some bizarre reason, I found that easier than the approach despite the longer running periods.  Sorry to mix my miles and kilometres but you get the picture!

So issues along the way:-

  • in the first mile or so, running next to a speed walker – why was I bothering!  I did eventually manage to lose her, as in I went ahead, not the other way round!
  • spotting the relay event changeover areas.  My thoughts on passing each changeover were

First one – why didn’t we do that

Second one – we’re doing that next year

Third one – we’re definitely doing that next year

As it happens, we can’t.  The relay event was only open to runners living in the boroughs through which the route ran.

  • Cobbles – just, aaargh!!

The organisers had laid on a festival in Greenwich park for runners and family/friends but the weather gods obviously weren’t looking down on them this year and although people were milling around the different stands, it naturally wasn’t as populated as it would have been on a sunny day.  Maybe they’ll be luckier next year!

Finish line.jpg

Cutty Sark and beyond the finish line 🙂 

My other thoughts during this event were

(a)          don’t like this course

(b)          not bothering with the London Marathon ballot again

Now, a few days later, maybe ……


Run bling!