The Ealing Half has an amazing reputation. I wanted to see if it lived up to its reputation as winner of the UK’s best half marathon in 2014, 2015 and 2016 from the Running Awards.
I was offered a free place in return for a blog post and signed up. So did my running buddy, Mary, to raise money for the Rowcroft Hospice in Torquay who had provided amazing support to her mother-in-law. This was her first half marathon since beginning running.
Mary and I go back a while. We met on the first day of the beginners’ course 5 ½ years ago and have been running together ever since. She has been my savior on many a long training run, meeting me for the last 4 or 5 miles, that point where I start to really suffer.
We were in. Let the fun commence!
The day of the Ealing Half
Two buses and three tubes later I arrive. Claire is on the same tube and I manage to catch her on the platform, getting off a tube on the other platform is Mary. So side by side, off we head to the start line, me sipping a SiS caffeine shot as I go (love these and a huge thanks to SiS for sending them to me).
There were hundreds of people about and excitement in the air.
We faffed around a little, dropped our bags off, did the necessary pre-race toilet break and then to the start line. It was quiet. My main concern at this point was being hit by conkers falling off the trees above us. People were waiting to start on their half marathon journeys.
And off we went. Just out from the start line, I hear Katerina from Racecheck giving me a shout!
I was pacing Mary. My aim – to make sure we started slow enough to get us to the end.
The miles ticked over, jelly babies were eaten, high fives with kids along the route. Up and down a few undulating hills we went. Nothing compared to the Eridge 10 and thankfully all on road.
Marshals and crowds were shouting out encouragement. Along the quieter parts of the route, folks had come out of their homes to cheer us on and hand out sweets. It was getting warm, a little warmer than expected. I was glad I’d doused myself in 30+.
It was at mile 10 that the wheels started coming off for Mary. She kept telling me to run ahead. I didn’t. My job was to see her to the end, like she’d seen me to the end for many of my long marathon training runs, meeting me for the last 4 or 5 miles. And I knew how she felt – yep, that’s when it sucks.
We started walking with some bits of running. Many folks around us were doing the same. Marshals and spectators kept up their encouraging words.
We entered the park for the final lap. There were thousands of people about and the shouts of encouragement continued. Running the final 100 metres or so, we finished, got our medals, and took a few photos.
Would I do this race again?
YES. And here are just some of the reasons
- The start area was well laid out and easy to navigate
- Bag drop-off was quick and easy
- Portaloos – while there were queues, there always are, they moved quickly
- Start line close to the portaloos!
- Start line well organised with respect to the pens we should put ourselves in – only risk being hit by conkers!
- Fantastic local community support right along the route. Not only were folks out cheering and high-fiving, many were handing out sweets and bottles or cups of water
- A good number of water stations – well organised and no faffing required on the part of runners
- The course was well laid out with plenty of marshals on route. The marshals did an amazing job
- I liked the route. While there were a few hills, it was great to see the main and backstreets of Ealing and run through some of its parks!
- Great support for back of the pack runners.
- I like the bling and there was water and bananas at the end. No goody bag which I was happy with as they’re often filled with rubbish food and/or stuff I’ll throw away as soon as I get home.
The other plus point for me is the Ealing Half is organised by a not-for-profit community interest company where profits are ploughed back into community projects. This was why, once I’d signed up, I helped promote it.
A fab day had by all!
So a huge thanks to everyone who put this together and to the community who made it an event to remember.