Richmond RunFest half marathon race review: The one where I nearly get my mojo back

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I was coming into this race with rather low expectations. After a very sluggish Clapham Common 10k, which turned into a long run so bad that I nearly had a bit of a cry halfway through, I was filled with dread. With Yorkshire Marathon just a few weeks away, I also knew that if I struggled at Richmond the full would be a complete nightmare. So it was with more than a little trepidation that I laced up my trainers and headed to Kew Gardens…

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PRE-RACE ORGANISATION

Online entry was nice and straightforward, while race packs arrived in the post in plenty of time. Start area was quite spread out at Kew Gardens, but there were plenty of signs and good number of marshals scattered around to offer assistance if needed!

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TOILETS

I was slightly stressed when arrived to see a ridiculously long queue for the toilet, then went to the next set of toilets and saw more of the same. Thankfully these were just the normal Kew Gardens toilets, with plenty of Portaloos near the race start. The queue for these was still fairly hefty – I waited about 15 minutes in a queue that was moving relatively quickly, and ended up missing my designated start time. Saw a fair few toilets on the route though.

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THE RACE

I missed my designated start time, but this didn’t seem to be much of an issue and I was soon on my way. The course is really lovely, snaking around Kew Gardens before heading along the river, taking in the likes of Teddington Lock and Ham House. It’s also nice and flat too!

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The first half of the race for me was great. I felt comfortable and was maintaining a strong and steady pace (for me). At around 5 miles Paul caught up with me, which was a massive confidence boost as he’d started before me! At the halfway point I was on for a PB. But then I slowed a little, Paul went ahead and my struggles of the past few weeks came back to haunt me. Once again I was struggling to breathe properly, feeling like I had someone crushing my chest and sounding like an asthmatic dog. Not ideal. In the end I resolved to just keep running and be grateful I still had a few more weeks until Yorkshire.

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Due to the nature of the course support is sporadic, but the cheer points were brilliant and the marshals were encouraging too. I was very glad to have worn my vest with my name on – I definitely needed the boost of having my name shouted by the end!

The same can’t be said of the soul-destroying final mile, which is basically a lap of the field where you finish, and involves running right next to the finish line before looping off again. Until that point the race was challenging Cardiff to be my favourite half, but such a depressing end to an otherwise lovely course was too much for me! I imagine it was worse for the poor marathon runners. I hope it might be possible to change this next year, but I do appreciate that the challenges of plotting three different distances in Richmond.

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While a PB was off the cards by mile 8, I did still manage to finish 20 minutes ahead of my disastrous Wimbledon Common half a couple of months ago, which was a bit of a boost. While I don’t think a marathon PB is a realistic goal for Yorkshire, fingers crossed that a trip to the doctor gets me in shape for a comfortable run.

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RACE BLING

Fab medal, which also has a bottle opener. Always a plus. Great Nike tech t-shirt – and they had ladies’ sizes! So rare for races to do this, so it’s always great when they do. As an extra bonus, finishers also got a can of London Pride.

OVERALL VERDICT

Nice atmosphere, great course, excellent t-shirt and medal, just a shame about the final mile! Will definitely try and do this again next year. I *may* even be tempted by the marathon…

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