Race Report: Vitality North London Half Marathon | Eclectic Cake: Race Report: Vitality North London Half Marathon

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Race Report: Vitality North London Half Marathon

WHAT: Half Marathon
WHERE: Allianz Park, North London
WHEN: 15th March 2015

When asked what motivates him, double Olympic gold medalist Mo Farah said he uses the memory of London 2012 and the incredible noise of the stadium to pull him through when things get really tough. As the official ambassador for the North London Half Marathon, Mo started us off on our own journey through not one but two stadiums. The course led from Allianz Park to Wembley and back – stadium to stadium. And whilst the noise wouldn't quite compare to that on Super Saturday, the thought was just as motivating.

One big half-way marker

I lined up at the race start slightly flustered. The short journey to Allianz Park, home of Saracen's rugby, had turned into a frenzied fight for parking (despite allocating a space) and I'd spent most of my race build up wondering the race village looking for bag check. As an inaugural race, the facilities and volunteers were great but there seemed to be an air of confusion of chaos.

Eventually calmed by seeing some familiar faces, conversation turned to race strategy. I planned to just run – after injury and sporadic training, I wasn't expecting anything too exciting. That was until a friend planted a seed.

Warming up at Allianz Park

She suggested that, actually, I would run faster than I predicted. Faster, even, than I'd ever before run a half marathon! I dismissed her comment as over-generous encouragement but as soon as we got going, my legs seemed strong and fast. She waved me off and I happily carried on trotting, still with no plan for time or desire to chase numbers.

Admittedly, there wasn't much in the way of views on the back roads of North London and support was pretty limited but I'd plugged a party in my ears and I was having fun. Yes, I was the one waving my arms around, singing and aero-planing down the hills.

Pitch-side at Wembley

As a runner who's happiest on the trails, what induced moans in most, further fuelled my delight. It appears that North London is quite hilly, which gave this otherwise less than spectacular route some interest. The lumps and bumps came fairly regularly and I thrived, chugging up and flying down everything the course threw at me.

Being an out and back course, I looked forward to revisiting my favourite hills but I'm sure those that had to drag themselves up slowly, started to dread them. Happily for them, there was the very large slice of motivation in the form of running through Wembley Stadium. The tunnel housed an amazing crash of steel drums, before we emerged on the side of the pitch to a gaggle of supporters and big screens showing fellow runners.

A big thank you to all the brilliant marshals and volunteers

Sucking in extra energy from seeing this iconic landmark, everything from now on was homeward bound, back towards Allianz Park. I was feeling strong until the last few miles brought waves of tiredness but North London had woken up and the number of supporters had grown just enough to keep me going in between their cheers and high-fives.

The first time I've seen a half-marathon clock pre-two hours!

The roar of duel-carriageway traffic constantly fooled me into thinking we were approaching the stadium far earlier than we did but the thought of the welcome we'd receive drove me forwards. With just a few metres to go, I glanced towards the clock. With the biggest smile, I crossed the line with a brand new PB, over 7 minutes faster than my last!

Meeting Mo Farah!

Mo was right, that stadium atmosphere is really motivating.

You can now pre-register for the North London Half Marathon 2016 here or, if you can't wait that long, have a look at the other races in the Vitality Run Series here.


  1. What a PB! Plus you look like a professional next to Mo!

    1. Thank you, I'm still buzzing from such a nice surprise! You're too kind!

  2. Well Done Jen! We all know you love a hill! lol another one in the bag for #partypace xoxo

    1. Thanks, Elle! We'll get you to love those hills one day, too. Hooray for #partypace

  3. I don't mind the hills either - I figure what goes up must come down! :)

    I'm doing the Hackney Half next. I did it last year too and it was a HOT day, hopefully this year will be a bit cooler. (although not quite as cool as Sunday was!)

    1. Absolutely! They were quite nice short hills, so you knew the downs were on their way.

      I'm doing Hackney, too! It was scarily hot last year, wasn't it. Fingers crossed for something in between the two.

  4. Wooo congratulations Jen! And so jealous you got to meet Mo, that's really cool :D

    1. Thanks, Beki! It was a very quite meeting but great all the same.