Alex’s Race Report – Richmond Park Hal Marathon – 29th August 2021

With Bolton Ironman 70.3 fast approaching, Coach Richard advised to enter a local half marathon race to test my pace under competitive conditions. I was reluctant to part with £30 for a half marathon, but Coach Richard was right (he normally is) since it would pressure me to put the effort that he and I know I can do, since I have a tendency to ‘cruise’ when I run.

Richmond Park Fix Events Half Marathon seem liked the perfect race since it was my local park and I know the area well.

Two weeks prior to the race I was off all alcohol and sugar, I’ve found this really helps my stomach come race day. I also acquired a new pair of HOKA Clifton 2’s (not a paid partnership so I won’t be following this with a shoe review!), which was much needed as I had worn down my previous HOKA’s and they were starting to give me shin issues. 

Come race day I oddly felt a touch nervous, normally I’m super chilled! I consider myself to be a strong runner, plus I have previous half marathon times to measure this race against…oh, and I knew Richard would be checking my times! I’m seven months into my Tri2 membership and I reckon I’m likely in the best condition I’ve been in for a while (if not, ever), so it was strange to feel this way. I didn’t enter this race to come first but rather to maintain a heart rate of 172—178 bpm and an average pace of 4:30km/min. 

The turnout was strong, 117 competitors toed the line and it was a really good atmosphere. We got the go ahead and we were off – always funny watching everyone start their Garmin watches at the start line! The pack broke into its respective clusters maintaining similar paces quickly, there wasn’t the usual amateur Usain Bolt that smashes the first 200 metres leading the pack before forgetting there’s another 20,800km left to go and completely burning out – shame, I normally find that quite funny. 

There was a group of six of us that led the way, we were maintaining a 3:50min/km pace but I had to put my competitive ambitions of an unlikely first place to one side and stick to the game plan. I dropped my pace back to 4:30km/min and my heart rate followed suit to 170bpm. I quickly found myself in a group of three, we stayed together for the majority of the race.

The course was mainly trail, not the surface I was expecting at all for my new HOKA Clifton 2’s road running shoes – which performed great! Super light and no shin/muscles issues (I did say I wasn’t going to review the shoes, so I’ll leave it there!). ‘Undulating’ is a loose word to describe the course. There was a constant gradual uphill for 50% of the race, followed by a short drop on concrete (thank goodness), before being sent on a 300m exploration across grass and a very uneven trail path which weaved its way through overgrown bracken – I didn’t remember signing up for Tough Mudder! We had to complete four laps, so the challenges of the course were relentless. Admittedly, I was a tad annoyed since I really wanted a course that would get me a personal best or a sub 1hr30min to really show off on my Strava (of course!). 

That aside I felt good! The sweet spot runs I was doing in training were really coming into use. No stomach issues, I never thought I would quit and it was a great having competitors around me. My pace stayed around the 4:34km/min mark despite the uphill trail aspect of the course. The final 5km I decided to really use everything left in me to and I put the burners on to break away from the pack, which at this point had increased to six of us. I gave everything I had, which perhaps I could have spread more evenly throughout the race… lessons to be learnt! I felt really pushed and I was so happy (after the race) to have entered. 

I finished in 10th with a race time of 1:36:35, which was I was very happy with given the type of course. 

A really well put together race by the organisers Fix Events. I’m a sucker for freebies, although wouldn’t recommend drinking a strawberry Weetabix drink straight and Kombucha straight after a race….will stick to good old fashioned water next time! 

Bring on Ironman Bolton 70.3! 

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