The inaugural London Landmarks Half Marathon somehow completely slipped under my radar, just like last month’s Vitality Big Half.
Owned by baby charity Tommy’s and brand new for 2018, the London Landmarks is a closed-road, central London run and the only Half Marathon to go through both the City of London and City of Westminster.
I stumbled across the event after Googling London Half Marathons, by which time it was sold out with only two months to go. I spend a fair amount of time on Social Media, both in my Digital Marketing job and personally, where I engage with and Follow a large amount of fellow runners; however I don’t recall hearing about this race previously or seeing any adverts or Social Media posts about it. Apparently the event had sold out within a day, and I was gutted. I love London running events and this would have been perfect for my Brighton Marathon training.
I kept an eye on the #LondonLandmarks hashtag on Twitter and Instagram, hoping that someone would pull out and offer up their place in the run. (A few people were selling their spots for up to £99 on eBay!) Eventually I spotted a chance – the lovely Sophie Norris secured a place then moved to Dubai, so said I could take her place for free. She even arranged for her race pack to be posted to me, which was super kind! Within a few days I had the pack which included an event technical t-shirt, event bag for the bag-drop, named running number with timing chip, and useful information booklet.
So on Sunday 25th March I caught the train straight from Tunbridge Wells to Charing Cross, eating a banana, porridge and drinking a bottle of water en route. The weather was dry and slightly overcast – perfect running conditions! I wore USA Pro lycra shorts under Nike technical shorts, SKINS calf compression sleeves, Adidas sweatband, new Brooks Ghost 10 trainers with black 1000 Mile trainer socks, the event technical t-shirt and USA Pro base layer with USA Pro sports bra, resulting in a super comfortable outfit. I wore my new Nike belt which I’ve been using on long marathon training runs – it has adjustable straps, fits snug around the waist and doesn’t bounce. It expands and can easily fit my inhaler with energy gels – I use one and a half during Half Marathons, so took two Torq gels in Raspberry Ripple and Lemon Cheesecake (SO delicious!).
The event promised to deliver a “community engagement programme and involve London-wide schools, boroughs, community groups, cultural organisations, sports clubs and businesses” with 10,000 runners starting on Pall Mall and enjoying views of London’s most iconic landmarks including Big Ben, St Paul’s Cathedral, Nelson’s Column, the Gherkin, the Shard, the Tower of London and the London Eye; finishing by Downing Street. I was really looking forward to it!
Trafalgar Square was buzzing and an energetic warm-up was taking place on a stage. The Start line was clearly signposted so I made my way over, but just like the London Winter Run 10K, the starting area was a free-for-all. Runners had been allocated a colour based on Finish times, and Green was supposed to start as the first wave. However all sorts of colours were mixed in and there didn’t seem to be separate starting pens or anyone manning the Start line, so it looked like people were just turning up to whichever wave they fancied running in. It made the first mile or so really frustrating and I couldn’t run at my usual pace – there were walkers as early as Mile 2!
However, the atmosphere was incredible. The course was lined with supporters, bands, choirs and entertainment, and the event itself was just amazing. The route was different, interesting and fun. The run sped by and I didn’t struggle, feel bored or have to check myself mentally at any stage. I ran faster and better than I have for a while and even grabbed a new PB!!
The water stations en route were perfectly spaced out and included Lucozade, which was very welcome. I used my Raspberry Ripple Torq gel at Mile 7-8, and half of the Lemon Cheesecake one around Mile 10-11 for that final push.
The Finish line was crammed with photographers and volunteers in fancy dress handing out chunky bespoke medals – which OPEN! Bespoke event sweatbands, bottles of water, Lucozade and Natural cereal bars were also handed out by volunteers.
I think this was probably my favourite event of all time, actually, and I highly recommend it. The atmosphere the whole way around was like nothing I’ve seen before, especially on a Half Marathon! I absolutely loved it and hope to get a place next year.
NEXT UP: Brighton Marathon (eeek!) – Sunday 15 April 2018