Vitality Big Half 2019

15th Mar 2019

This is the second year that this race has been held and, apart from the weather on the day, it was a really good race.

Last year, the “Beast from the East” descended on the country and dumped a load of snow a few days before. This caused a lot of problems for people using public transport to get to the event and the post-race festival had to be reduced because of safety fears. This year we had wild winds, which were a battle for runners on the day, and again affected the post-race festival, this time resulting in it’s complete cancellation. This was such a shame because it’s always nice to soak up the atmosphere after a race of this magnitude.

With the weather clearly being an issue, it would probably make sense for the race organisers to move the event to a time of the year when the weather is a little more stable. However, the race is produced by the same people that organise the London Marathon and this half-marathon is used by some of the marathon runners as a training run. I wonder if the organisers consider this reason enough to keep it running in March?

The race is really well organised, with lots of marshals at the start to point you in the right direction. The starting waves were all well signposted and the gate marshals checked all bibs to ensure that everyone got into the right pen.

There were plenty of toilets at the start, I don’t know about other staring pens, but ours actually had toilets in it, which is something I’ve never seen before, but was a great idea.

Due to the high winds, they were not able to put out all the mile markers, which is really understandable. At the end of the day, safety is paramount. The route takes in the Docklands area, a run across the famous Tower Bridge, through Rotherhithe and then finally down to Greenwich to finish alongside the beautiful Cutty Sark. The route has plenty of water stations and at mile 8, they had a Lucozade Sport feeding station. Although we didn’t take the Lucozade, they were serving it in Oohos. These are seaweed based biodegradable pouches. The pouches can be eaten or discarded in food waste bins.

Some people last year thought the route was boring and consisted of “the rubbish part of the London Marathon.” OK, we didn’t go past Parliament or Buckingham Palace, but we did get to run across Tower Bridge and through Greenwich. I think the course was great!!! The support from locals throughout was amazing. Even though they have massive disruption for the day, they all got out there and braved the weather to cheer us along. There were quite a few bands and choirs on the course too, which again shows dedication, because the weather was not great!

The finishers medal was a variation of the one received last year, apart from it being red. I always approach the goodie bag with trepidation as most of the time I can’t eat anything in there, because of my Gluten intolerance. The bag contained the New Balance finishers technical T-Shirt, a cereal bar, some sweet potato crisps, a bottle of Lucozade Sport and a bottle of water. The cereal bar wasn’t gluten free so I couldn’t eat that but everything else I was grateful for. To be honest it was nice not having a bag full of leaflets that you sometimes get in a race bag and invariably put straight in the recycling.

How did I do in the race? Well, to be honest with you, I had a time of around 2:40 in my head. Having been injured at the start of the year and really only managing to get around 6 weeks of serious training before the day, the only goal really was to try and get all the way around without any walking breaks. I nearly fell over when Gayle and I had crossed the finish line and she told me we had a new PB of 2:26:25 (2.5minutes off our previous PB).

As regular readers of my blog know, last year wasn’t good for me. Being diagnosed with depression and then having seizures related to the antidepressants that I was taking at the time really affected my running. Although I completed the challenge of running 12 half-marathons during the year, I didn’t actually manage to completely run any of them and they turned into Run/Walk races.

I feel that my fitness over the past three months has greatly improved and also my confidence in running has come back too. There were some times last year when I thought about quitting running altogether, but I am so glad that I didn’t. I have now fallen back in love with running and I cannot wait until my next race.

Our next half-marathon is currently the Great North Run in September, I really cannot wait to enjoy it and see if I can surprise myself again and get a new PB. Until then, I’m going to be working on my 5km time and try and get this to sub-27. Wish me luck!

Race Route

Race Stats

Finish Time 2:26:25
Avg. Pace min/km
My Race Rating

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