When you think of London, what do you visualise? Do you picture a bustling city, with people rushing in all directions, cars constantly honking and miserable weather? Well, if that’s the case, prepare for your perception of the capital to be completely flipped upside down, all thanks to the Royal Parks Half Marathon presented by the Royal Bank of Canada.
As someone who’s lived in London my entire life, I found it hard to imagine that this race could possibly show me another side to my home city that I hadn’t seen before. However, I couldn’t have been more wrong.
The Royal Parks Half Marathon is known for being one of the most scenic half marathons out there, and with good reason. The beauty of the four parks, the gorgeous weather on the day and the tremendous support from the crowds made it a truly unique and special experience.
Signing up for a race doesn’t solely involve turning up on the day and going for a leisurely amble. Everyone taking part has their own personal goal, whether it’s to achieve a PB, run their first competitive race, raise money for charity or all of the above.
When I took my place at the start line, I was hit by the realisation that months of training had all led to this moment. I felt a sense of unity with all of the other runners standing alongside me as we prepared to put our minds and bodies to the test.
There’s no denying that we lucked out with the weather on the day of the race. It was a warm, sunny, pleasant autumn day – perfect conditions. The sun did feel quite hot at times, but luckily the trees in Hyde Park, Kensington Gardens, St James’s Park and The Green Park provided a sufficient amount of shade. There were numerous water and Lucozade stalls scattered along the route to keep us hydrated and full of energy.
Best of all, the citizens of London didn’t disappoint. People turned up in their droves to show their support. Some knew people participating, while others came along just to boost morale and absorb the atmosphere. Whenever I felt a pang of self-doubt, a cheer from a stranger or a high five from an excitable kid on the side of the path helped massively.
The highlight of the Royal Parks Half Marathon for me came at the very end. As I spotted the sign for the last 200m, I suddenly felt a surge of energy. I started pumping my arms harder and lengthening my strides before breaking into a full on sprint. The spectators spurred me on as I made my way to the finish line, and I was even treated to a shout-out from the commentator. I finished on a high, and it felt absolutely amazing.
If you’re considering taking part in the Royal Parks Half Marathon next year, stop considering it and make it your mission to sign up. You won’t regret it and we can guarantee that you’ll fall in love with the greenery of London!