The Whole Foods Kingston Market Breakfast Run (with two options – 8 or 16 miles) is an event that many runners seem to shun on the grounds that the entry fee is punching £30. Maybe because of this, because it was Reading Half Marathon on the same day, or because it all kicked off at 8am, there were just four 26.2ers in yesterday’s field; Sue Garnish, Simon Dew, Gerald Abrahams and myself, all getting stuck in with the longer distance with the exception of Gerald.
Whilst I do agree in principle that races should forever maintain their £15 pricetag, I’ve long been eyeing up this Human Race event. The towpath-based course takes in some of my favourite training territory which, though it might sound a contradiction, I’m happy to pay to be accompanied round. Add to this the title sponsor – Whole Foods’s – involvement, and the implied chance of a very decent goody bag, and any principles fly out the window.
I arrived at the start a little dewey-eyed but bushy-tailed, having got up at 5am for porridge. I’d taken advantage of the fact you could enter yourself into the Elite Women’s start if you thought you could break 2 hours. It’s a rare luxury to be given carte blanche to be elite, and I quite fancied a different colour bib and the gentle pressure of having to maintain the pace. I had my fingers crossed I wouldn’t be left for dust. As it turns out, there were quite a few fair-weather “elite ladies” on the start line, given that fewer than half of us finished in under 2-hours…
Guns off and we strung out quickly before pushing on over Kingston Bridge greeted by the sunshine. I settled into fourth pace and a rhythm that felt right, though it was considerably quicker than planned. The men, who started a minute later, began trickling by either solo or in motivational trios, and it was at this point that Simon Dew pounded past.
I dodged shade for sun spots as we strode out along the gravel with Hampton Court in my vision, where I also knew my trusty supporter parents would be waiting with extra water and open hands for me to relinquish half my kit. They popped up about six times over the course which really helped me race over my longest distance to-date. Grant Davison and his son didn’t stray from their cheering spot either, I was touched to see on my second lap.
After Hampton Court bridge, we headed straight down past Weston Green and cut through some woods near Old Cranleighans (a last minute course change owing to roadworks but actually an enhancement). From there it was a straight line back to Kingston past Gigg’s Hill Green on our left before eating up the Portsmouth Road. As I hunted down some eight milers (who had started twenty minutes earlier than us), and got carried along too quickly by others of them who were upping the pace for their final few miles, I primed my brain for a second lap of the same.
Upon crossing the line I was told there was a prize for fourth lady – a nice surprise; a Whole Foods hamper to add to the much-approved of Whole Foods goody-bag (and mug) that every finisher got. Sue Garnish finished very well in a time of 2:19, looking fresh still, and smiling, as she bounded along the Portsmouth Road to the finish. Simon Dew finished strongly too in a time of 1:40, four minutes ahead of me. Gerald Abrahams had a great 8-mile course, clocking in at 56 minutes.
Love them or hate them for the way they’ve made racing into a lucrative business, Human Race organized this event flawlessly. Lucozade, water and recovery bars were in full flow, they know what it is to measure a course properly, do prize-giving before everyone’s got cramp and get the results up on the website overnight. After the Brighton Half Marathon course bodge-up this year and the Richmond Resolution Half Marathon general shambles, it seems these are qualities not to be taken for granted.