Ranelagh Harriers are a proper grown up running club, established in 1881and based in their clubhouse in Petersham. They have organized their annual Richmond Half Marathon for many years and it remains pretty much unchanged. By todays standards it could be considered quirky, but amongst club runners it’s a firm favourite.
Before the start runners assemble at the Fox & Duck pub, then with 10 minutes to go we were walked up to the traffic lights at the foot of Petersham Hill where for a short period we blocked the road until all was ready and the starter horn sounded. All done by tradition, custom and practice. If a race organizer asked to do that these days the council would just laugh. The course then follows into Richmond, crosses Richmond Bridge and finds its way down to Twickenham. Even at 08.30 the sun was hot but the temperature was not too bad. We followed on to Kingston and ducked under the cobbled path below the bridge before emerging on the upstream side for the first water station. The next bit of the course is truly interesting, involving in running for a couple of miles up to Hampton Court Bridge in the cycle lane, while traffic zoomed past on our right. But it works!
Hampton Court Palace is around the Half way mark and we were then on familiar territory on Barge Walk back to Kingston Bridge. The races that I organize through Quicksilver all use this stretch, but The Original Hampton Court Half, Royal Borough of Kingston Half and the Harry Hawkes all come up from Kingston to Hampton Court so today we were running in the reverse direction.
At this point it started to get really hot. There’s not much shade along the river and the sun beat down and reflected off the sandy gravel surface. I was very pleased I had worn a cap. Forgot the sunglasses though!
In race terms this was when it began to get a bit harder. To hit a target finish in 2 hours I needed to average 9.09 minute miles. At halfway I was at 9.07 but now I was beginning to slow and the average time on my Garmin crept up. By the time I reached Kingston Bridge I could tell the game was up, so it was all down to hanging in for the last 3 miles for a best result. Reached the finish in Ham in an official time of 2hrs 2mins 5secs. Given the temperature quite pleased with that result. Great to run another half marathon and the first of 2018. Have to find another and get under the 2 hours!