This weekend saw the first ever edition of Run Hackney – East London’s first half marathon – and being London girls we of course had to be there! The course led us all around East London, starting on the Hackney Marshes, going all the way around Hackney, Broadway Market, Victoria Park and even the Olympic Park – a real tribute to all the best the East has to offer. 12.000 runners joined us on this sweltering hot day – on any given day, we’d be super chuffed about that, but when you’re about to run 21k, the heat is actually far from ideal. This was one of our toughest races so far.
The course was really diverse and well-laid out – no bottlenecks or delays, the volunteers around the course were wonderful and the locals were absolute heroes. It was amazing running around the Olympic Park (my first visit since the Olympics) and seeing how it has developed since. The event village was big and well organised, with free sports massages available afterwards. The ambulance teams definitely deserve an extra special mention, because never have we seen so many people pass out and needing medical care than we did that day. It was a real battlefield, with dozens of people fainting and needing help, and the ambulance teams seemed really prepared.
That’s sort of where the good bit ends… Sure, Run Hackney wasn’t responsible for the weather, but we feel they could have done more to accommodate the runners. Me being a slower runner, by the time I reached the first 2 water stops, they had simply ran out of water. No water. No explanation from the staff (who were simply packing up the boxes and leaving) and so far, no acknowledgement or apologies from the organisation. At these temperature, running out of water isn’t just sloppy planning, it’s dangerous. My first “official” water came after 8miles, when temperatures were already really high – if it wasn’t for the locals handing out water, I wouldn’t have made it that far. At £40 for entry, simply providing enough water seems like a given and this is simply unacceptable.
The second issue was travel to and from the event. The Hackney Marshes are a beautiful place to start, but very difficult to get to, let alone very early on a Sunday morning. With the Overground not running, and all buses being diverted because of the race, tons of people really struggled to get there, or simply missed the start. In the future we’d love to see transport to and from the event improved, or simply starting the race from a different location.
Other smaller things we’d like to see improve is the start, which was a bit messy and unorganised, with no real dedicated starting pens for different paces, which made the start quite chaotic. And finally, Run Hackney had tweeted the course was as flat as a pancake, but we don’t think that was entirely accurate. Not that this would have changed the outcome for us, but there were definitely a few bumps along the course.
We’re not going to lie: this race was tough. We both struggled a lot: Cam ran 2:07, I eh… well let’s say 3+ hours (more about that in another post). The hot weather was the main culprit, but lack of water and shade definitely made it so much harder. The route was absolutely lovely and a real homage to all things East London – so lovely to run on home turf. Aside from some serious teething problems – water, mile markers, transport – we are definitely excited about having this race become a staple of the London running calendar. A very good race for seasoned and newbie runners alike!
Will we do it again? Hell yeah – we’re London chicks and this race is right up our street (quite literally). See you again next year – but we’ll be taking our own water bottle, just in case. You can register now for 2015.
Finally, a HUGE thank you to the kind people in Hackney, who handed out cups of water, the guy from the corner shop handing out bottles, the lady cooling down the runners with a garden hose, the lovely support from start to finish: without you guys, getting to the finish would have been a lot harder.
Fresh and bright pre-race!
The beautiful Olympic Park
The amazing Run Dem Crew, who make any race so much more fun with their undying support. Absolutely love these guys!