A day of two halves

Ahead of marathon season, we go through half marathon season. Today, our members were in action in two places Wokingham Half and the more local Hampton Court Half.

Our faster members favoured Wokingham with 5 runners completing the course there in under 1.5 hours. Front of the back was Christopher Hutchinson with a very impressive 1:19:13.

Many members will remember the Hampton Court not-quite-a-half marathon from 2014. You will be pleased to know the distance was correct this year and all PBs count. Howell Jones and Laurie Johnston will be particularly pleased with this as they put in storming times. Front of the pack here were Martin Threakall and Katherine  Wilson both finishing in 1:42:30. Martin was one of the many 26.2 runners who completed the run as part of a long run (20 miles for him) and we are happy to see Katherine back to racing after the birth of her twins last year.

Full 26.2 results and a short write up from me of Hampton Court follow…

Laurie Johnston waits anxiously for his first half marathon.
Steve Stopford proves we did go past Hampton Court (thanks to James Walsh for the photo)

Wokingham Half Marathon

18 Feb 2018 – Half Marathon

Position Runner Gun Time Actual Time PB?*
1 Christopher Hutchinson 01:19:13 Yes
2 Anthony Whelan 01:23:57 Yes
3 Moustafa Fawzy 01:24:20 Yes
4 Anthony Brooke 01:27:43
5 Victoria Haslam 01:27:52 Yes

Hampton Court Half Marathon

18 Feb 2018 – Half Marathon

Position Runner Gun Time Actual Time PB?*
1= Katherine Wilson 01:42:30 Yes
1= Martin Threakall 01:42:30 Yes
3 James King 01:45:16 Yes
4 Ed Rowland 01:48:57
5 Iain Stevenson 01:53:43
6 Graeme Maisey 01:53:55 Yes
7 Laura Hooke 01:55:39
8 Brian Merritt 01:56:07 Yes
9 Richard Kirk 02:04:04
10 Howell Jones 02:04:28 Yes
11 Vicky Gardner 02:04:52
12 Laurie Johnston 02:08:12 Yes
13 Fiona Watters 02:09:34 Yes
14 Alice Pike 02:12:38 Yes
15 Steve Stopford 02:13:41 Yes
16 Sian Thomas 02:18:34 Yes
17 Kate Back 02:41:56 Yes

* PBs are based on data available in the 26.2 records. If your result is incorrectly marked as a PB, please enter your correct. Log in to add your own results.

Rich Kirk’s Hampton Court Half Justification

Many people question why members would want to pay over £30 for a half marathon on routes that we run frequently as a club. For me, it was a combination of motivation to keep training and convenience (right time and right place). I am aiming for a good time at Fleet (good considering my current form at least) so this was to serve as a trial run and the timing fit just right. Many other members were doing similar with this being one of a number of halves they have entered, and a lot running this as part of a longer run.

Returning to Hampton Court half was a tough decision as I took part back in 2014 when the race finished after 12.8 miles. At the time I was very angry at the race organisers as I felt they robbed me of a PB. I finished in 2:01:23 that time which if I had completed the full distance would have made 2:04:XX or less. This was extremely frustrating as my PB at the the time was 2:06:59 (Wokingham 2012). Later that in 2014  I went sub-2 so the anger quickly went away but I haven’t run an event organised by the same company since in a mini-boycott.

Having made my choice and paid my fees here is what I thought of my second running of Hampton Court:

  • It is too busy. The course used (see below) works well for Harry Hawkes 10 which attracts a much smaller field. With over 4000 runners today it was just too busy for the same route. Several times there were too many runners for the pavement we were meant to be using so we were forced to run in the open roads. Only a tiny fraction of the roads were actually closed on the route. Due to the crowds I was slowed to a walk three times, twice before 2.5 miles but then again at the half way mark.
  • The organisation still isn’t quite there. The start and finish were great but out on the course it is still lacking. You can tell the difference between the professional and volunteer marshals uses. The volunteers (lots of Stragglers) were enthusiastic and the professionals surly. The professionals don’t seem to be worth the money either. I witnessed a single volunteer expertly directing traffic on a busy junction while a mile further on four professionals directed a group of runners (including me) into the road and towards oncoming traffic. 
  • The big race feel is definitely there. There was a buzz in the crowd that you don’t get at smaller races. The goody bad was great too with a decent medal, t-shirt and lots of treats. I feel they have got the start/finish and rewards just right for the race.

Overall I wouldn’t hurry back. I wouldn’t rule it out totally but feel the course just isn’t right for such a big race. I can see why a lot of people come to the area to do this and wouldn’t discourage anyone from doing it in the future. For locals thought I would say go for Harry Hawkes over this one.

I am now looking forwards to Fleet half. I won’t be challenging my PB from two years ago of 1:53:48 as I am still carrying a few two many pounds to be competitive with my lighter self from pre-Alex. I know Fleet will be a good race though. There will be a lot of club members present and the organisation there was excellent last time. The course is more challenging so I need to get some hill work done but hopefully I will be able to push just a little hard next time.

A selection of the 26.2 runners pre-race

Relive ‘Hampton Court Half Marathon’

If you have thoughts about this or other races, please send them to be published on the site.