Are you taking part in the 2019 London Landmarks Half Marathon? Read on for Run Deep’s very own Jo Weston’s review from the inaugural event in 2018 so you know what you’re letting yourself in for!
Entering the race
My friend Julie says, ‘Do you fancy this?’ and sends me a link to a new half-marathon race around the streets of London. Of course, why not? Unbelievably, this event sold out within an hour of being advertised. We honestly didn’t think much else apart from, ‘What are we going to wear?’ Well, it is London, so it should be memorable!
We got our outfits sorted! Union Jack says London to us and, yes, we did get a few looks on the Tube, especially when we wore our tiaras! In the meantime, the race pack arrives and the nervous excitement begins. Great race pack, including a bag for dropping off in security area, post-race t-shirt (or you could run in it), race number and a great little booklet telling competitors everything that is going on pre-, during and post-race.
Early start (luckily reminded by LLHM that clocks went forward in the morning numerous times!) so off we set at 6am to the big city. Unsure of what to expect, but having been updated on a regular basis over the last couple of months, all we could really take in was there were going to be at least 10,000 runners, musical entertainment along the way and we would see a lot of sights of London.
Once on the Tube, we felt even more nervous excitement. A lot of weird looks from some other passengers, but as we got closer to our stop, more and more people were seen carrying their official drop-off bag. On arrival at Trafalgar Square, the tension was relieved; yes, there were A LOT of people and spectators, but the atmosphere was amazing and welcoming.
The bag drop area was very well organised and efficiently run. Plenty of loos dotted around the place however, as you can imagine, the queues were long –aren’t they always before a start of a race? Live commentating was going on about which wave was starting and when you should make your way to the start. We noticed that by the time we were called, we were running with all different waves as people decided when and where they wanted to start. This wasn’t an issue, especially for those friends who had been put in different waves. 9:58 approx and we’re off!
On the route
The road was packed. Our send-off was accompanied by all the marshals wearing bowler hats – nice little twist to celebrate the birth place of the bowler hat. Although busy at the star, as it was basically a rolling start there was enough room to be able to run from the start line and not too congested.
The route itself was very convoluted. There was a lot of back and forth, however we did pass an awful lot of sites including Nelsons Columns, The Shard, London Eye, Tower of London, St Pauls Cathedral, Bank, Downing Street… to name a few. Along the way there was a lot of entertainment; it was a real musical treat. Even the Bow Street bells played continuously (on purpose) for the runners.
The crowds were amazing too. One area, a bit of a back of nowhere, was the only area that I could remember no support, but apart from that there was encouragement all the way. The weirdest part of this was everyone calling out your name, which had been included on the number! By the middle of the race, it wasn’t so weird and very good mentally to have the individual encouragement to continue to the finish.
So, the course, as said, was rather convoluted but was basically flat and a wonderful place to go for a personal best. Which unofficially I did! My watch said I did it in a time four minutes quicker than my last PB – very happy with that. My official time added on nine minutes… Why, you ask? Well we did need to make a pitstop and this is probably the only criticism – there weren’t many amenities along the route so each one had long queues and it just a point of choosing when to stop.
The finish line
To the final mile! Which, to be honest, I can’t remember much about apart from the fact that we were nearly there. Julie for some reason was a little short on her mileage so was making lots of zigs across the route and taking the corners long. However, for the final straight we decided to go hand in hand. Funnily enough I was shattered and running with only one arm moving was a little tough as Julie decided we needed to sprint and crossed the line together – from the pics you can see who was enjoying it more. Although the official pictures did capture my first ever ‘flying feet’, so I’m well happy.
The medal we got was fantastic. There were some with lucky golden tickets inside which meant you won some special prize – very nice touch, unfortunately no luck for us. Our prize was taking part in this awesome run and cannot wait for next year. Last, when we went to collect our bags again a very efficient area, no queuing and quick to be served which was very welcomed.
Once changed and photo call finished, we headed off to a local salsa bar that was offering everyone who had a finished a drink – it would be rude not to! A great run, lovely reception all round. Very well organised and we have applied for VLM again, as this has made us want to do it even more. However, I feel this run although, not as long, was a lot more entertaining due to running around the capital and taking in the amazing view. Thank you Tommy’s for organising.