I’ve never done a RunThroughUK race yet, but they have lots of them organised in my local area and I’ve been tempted. They seemed like a professional organisation, with a good website, an interesting selection of events. When looking for a summer half marathon, I found the Wimbledon Common Half Marathon on the 5th of August.
3 things made me book:
- Sunday is Runday: Being a cricket widow in the summer, I was happy the race was on a Sunday, otherwise I’d struggle for childcare
- The price was right: at £28 including a medal and a t-shirt, I thought it was a pretty reasonable price
- Timings everything: I wanted something before my summer holiday, so that I wasn’t stressing about doing long training runs while trying to relax (ha) with the family
My friend Natalie also was keen and booked on it too! It’s always nice to have someone to do your training with, even if we didn’t train together, we’d be running similar distances in the lead up to the race itself. During training, I used the hashtag #runthroughuk in some of my Instagram posts and the RunThroughUK team always liked my posts and wrote encouraging comments on them, which I thought was a really personal touch (you can check them out on instagram here)!
I received an email 2 weeks before the race and then another one the week of the race. Each email clearly told me how to get there, how I would collect my racing number and timing chip onsite, and had links to the course map.
I dutifully studied the course map about 2 days before the race. Up until this point, I had it stuck in my head that this was a flat course. Now upon reading the race description, I realised it was not 🤦♀️. There was no course elevation map, just a route map, but it clearly said hill at the start of the two-loop course.
Generally, I don’t really like looped courses, everything you do on the first loop, you have to repeat. I knew from when I ran the Tadworth10 in January, which had a significant hill and was also a two-looper, and that once you conquered it – you simply have to loop back and do it again, which can be a little disheartening. But it didn’t say the hill was killer 🤷 (although I’m not sure that they would say that as they want people to want to do the course). So the two things I could take away from this were that the hill might not be that bad, and at least I knew in advance.
We arrived in plenty of time at the starting point. We were dropped off, so had no worries about car parking, but we were so early, it would have been no bother. All the RunThroughUK staff were easily identifiable in their blue branded gear, and all of them were very smiley and helpful, pointing us in the way of the loos, baggage tent, and the tent where you get your race numbers.
Collecting your race number onsite was no issue. In one of the emails from RunThroughUK it said you should make a note of your race number and bring it with you. I didn’t do this (as I sort of forgot and then broke my phone screen – long story), but it was just the usual – last name, check off a list, here’s your number, safety pins, and timing chip.
We fixed our race numbers on, secured our timing chips, and debated the next dash to the porta-loos (which were very clean and plentiful). In fact, we decided to do a final loo dash about 10 minutes before the start (pre-race nerves, eh), and even though the queues were double what they were when we were there earlier – the whole trip took about 5 minutes start to finish.
The first wave set off, and it was a little hard to hear the man making the announcements. The second wave was starting, and it was for finishers between 1:45 and 2:00 hours, and he started calling out finishing times in 2 minute increments. I guess you are just supposed to get into the funnel when you hear the time you think you might do. At the time I found it all a little confusing and rushed, but in the end it didn’t really matter.
True to the race description, there was a hill right at the start, and it was bigger than I had hoped for. I knew I wanted to start this race at ‘my pace’ and that over the distance if I was ‘feeling it’ I could catch it up. So, while a bunch of people around me set off like the clappers, I soon passed them all on that first hill.
The ground underfoot was varied, from fine gravel, soft dirt, sandy, rocky, rubbly, hard, and everything in between. I didn’t enjoy the dust, but found dodging the tree roots kind of fun, as it was a bit of a distraction. The race was about 50% under tree cover, giving dappled shade, and 50% blazing sunshine. The water stations were well manned with friendly staffers. As I had forgotten my Jelly Babies, I was hoping for some tubs of Haribo, but there wasn’t any 😬.
The atmosphere was quiet. I was a bit disappointed that I had forgotten my BeatsX and couldn’t listen to some music when the going gets tough. The group I with convinced me that it wasn’t really good race etiquette to listen to music and not ‘be a part of the race’. With this in mind, I thought it would be okay. I do wish at some points in the race that I did have my music, just for a little distraction, and lots of other runners were listening to music.
I latched on to two guys who were running a lovely steady pace around 5:05 KM splits and I just hung on their coat tails. I was with them for about 70% of the race and although we didn’t talk – they did offer me water at one station, and were checking to see if I was still with them. I had hoped to keep with them the whole way and reach my goal of SUB 1:50.
It was not to be. Around mile 10 I started to suffer with a side stitch, and it was on and off for about a mile. But I lost them around this point, and was on my own. Trying not to get disheartened, I just kept on pushing on, using every trick in the book to banish this blasted stitch. It came back with a vengeance for the downhill section (which I was really hoping to enjoy) and instead had me wincing on each stride 😣.
Throughout the race the marshals were so friendly and encouraging, and I also appreciated the signage around the race which was just the right side of inspirational (and not cheesy 😃). There was a very enthusiastic Womble mascot, offering high fives to all the runners. He must have been boiling 🔥 in that costume – what an amazing effort, and it certainly put a smile on my face each time I passed him.
The finish was a little cruel, as you could hear the music and cheering, but you seemed like you were on a never ending uphill. Eventually we turned in, and the finish line was in sight. The announcer was calling out the names of the finishers, which I always think is a nice touch. The medal was pretty awesome, and the race number collection tents has transformed into a refuel, water, and t-shirt collection area. I grabbed a bottle of water, small t-shirt, and banana, and went to the shade.
At this point I started to feel a bit unwell, and I thought I was going to pass out. 😵 My skin was all wet and clammy, the edges of my vision were going a bit dark, and my head was spinning. I looked up and I saw my friend Natalie’s partner, so I went over to him and sat near the finish line while he looked out for the other runners in our group and I tried not to pass out. After we found everyone, I thought I was feeling a bit better, but as soon as that sun hit me, the world went a bit spinny again, so I went over to the refuel tents and just sat down behind the desk.
The RunThroughUK staffer who was there was so nice and offered to go and get me anything I needed and told me to tell him if I needed the medic. After about 30 minutes I felt well enough to move on, and by this time the rest of our group had finished.
After the race, the results were available right away (I didn’t have a chance to check until later though). Throughout the day the pictures were uploaded in batches to their facebook page (you can check out their facebook page here). Free race photos – what an amazing perk – this is the first time I’ve been to a race and had free photos, and I think it is amazing! 👍
Would I do another RunThroughUK race? Absolutely, it was well organised, reasonably priced, and a friendly race with personality. No PB for me, but I will just have to book another one (here’s the link to their site in case you are keen on booking one as well).
Have you run a RunThroughUK race? What was your experience? Are you doing a RunThroughUK race in the future? I’d love to hear from you!