I recently ran the Richmond Park Half Marathon on a cold Sunday morning. Here's how it went.

Richmond Park Half Marathon

During Wednesday afternoon I realise that I haven’t done enough training runs for upcoming marathons. The first one being in March, and I hadn’t done a long run since Barbados in December. A sense of urgency sets in, and Thursday I register for a half marathon. I realised that left to my own devices I possibly wouldn’t do a long run so to prevent DNS, DNF or run to the gym I committed to a race. I’m pretty sure that you may relate that nothing focuses the mind like a painful marathon caused by a lack of training.

Fast forward to Sunday morning which was forecasted to be cold and dry. I dressed for the cold wearing leggings, long compression socks, a long sleeve top, hoodie, and cap. Frustratingly I forgot my gloves and boy did my fingers feel numb. As I walked to the registration area avoiding muddy puddles I smiled and realised that I perhaps should have worn my trail shoes instead of my NovaBlast 3. I struggled to type my details onto the tablet provided, took my number, and sought temporary shelter from the cutting wind.

I returned to the start line with my number attached to my bib holder. Determined to prevent any unwelcome draughts I tucked my long sleeve top into my leggings and zipped my hoodie all the way up to my chin and covered my head. Shivering in the start area was a stark contrast to sweating at the start line of the Barbados Marathon. The music playing, the MCs energy and the Pure Gym warmup team sufficiently distracted me enough to take my mind off the cold. The countdown finished and then we were off.

We started by Sheen Wood and the first part of the course was flat had quite a lot of puddles. Determined not to get my feet wet I sped up, increased my strive and jumped over them. It surely wasn’t energy efficient and probably didn’t look pretty. This steeplechase effort continued for a while and the course took us west along the path to the north of Richmond Park. I followed the path down to Bishop’s Pond, past the pond and left onto Sawyer’s Hill where the surface flattened out and allowed me to pace up.

Sawyer’s Hill provided an incline and a decline. From the top I could see the skyscrapers of Canary Wharf which were a stark contrast to the greenery and lovely scenery which I was surround by. I turned left onto Sheen Lane just before Sheen Cross Wood and continued north on the road until the course went left, doing a loop before passing the start for a second lap. I opted to run on the grass avoiding the mud as I didn’t want to take a tumble. My legs were working hard but my Blasts were performing well overall.

I picked up a water bottle from the sole aid station metres after the commenced my second lap warmer and confident in my knowledge of the course. Jumping puddles had gone from daunting to fun and I was upping the pace on the undulating course. On my 3rd lap I spotted Sam a coach and member of the Queens Park Harriers. We ran together and caught up. I’m not sure how I managed conversation as his pace is quite faster than mine. During the loop of the 3rd lap my hips got tight and I told Sam to go finish strong.

As I passed the start for the final time the MC gave me some words of encouragement which were most welcome and gave me a boost. I grab some water, sipped a little, discarded the bottle in the designated area and sped up. The hips were a bit looser, and I was determined to keep on moving forward. The terrain ranged from grass, path, mud, and road and I adjusted my stride for each. As I climbed Sheen Lane for the last time, I saw the skyscrapers and scanned the horizon for deer but alas none were in sight.

I nearly slipped on the mud during my last loop forgetting my strategy of sticking to the grass. I turned once more and this time the finish line was almost in sight. I tried to speed up but couldn’t sprint finish as the terrain had sapped the power from my legs. There it was the inflatable finish arch, I cruised towards it and raised my hands as I ran through. I smiled and was immediately relieved it was over I was presented with a wooden medal and then collected finisher goodies which included water, an energy ball and snacks.

I really enjoyed the race and on reflection the variety of terrain and kept the 4 laps interesting. Richmond Park is quite beautiful and makes for a great setting for running. In fact, that morning there were lots of cyclists and runners. This year the Richmond Park Half Marathon takes place in April, June, August to October and December. I have a feeling that I will be running this again during a warmer month. Richmond Park is a Royal Park and has protected status as an important habitat for wildlife and is a National Nature Reserve.

My race day kit:

Don't let winter stop you from running. Designed to help you stay warm, the WINTER RUN LONG SLEEVE HOODIE is one of our expert team's favourite pieces of gear for its versatility. Use it on its own in mild weather or under a jacket in rain or ex...

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Don't let winter keep you from running. This WINTER RUN LONG SLEEVE TOP is designed as a slim fit base layer to wear under a jacket in cold weather. Made with a merino wool blend fabric, it is super soft and warm yet practical with advanced mois...

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The ROAD BALANCE TIGHT offers good comfort, so you can experience a more mindful run. It's designed with a rubber print compression feature that provides advanced stability while you're running. The quick-drying fabric helps keep these bottom li...

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Functional for helping accommodate runners with shin splints and muscle tightness, these calf compression socks apply pressure to reduce the burden of the muscle. They also feature a knit fabric blend that's effective for generating airflow. S...

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The NOVABLAST™ 3 running shoe draws inspiration from a geometric origami feature for the upper and midsole. After making the shoe approx. 30g lighter than the previous version, we also equipped this style with improved comfort.​ A tongue wing c...

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Rey Smart

Personal Trainer from London



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