When October 12, 2008
First Man John Muriithi 1:10:18
First Woman Natalie Gray 1:24:02
Last Finisher 4:16:49
No. of Finishers 7,666
There seemed to be excessive foot-shuffling from the runners toeing the line for the inaugural outing of one of central London’s first half-marathons.
For some, it was excitement at the prospect of taking in some of London’s most famous parks and landmarks along the 13.1-mile course; for others it was the shortage of pre-race facilities around the Hyde Park start line – as the vast number of runners stopping to relieve themselves in the first half-mile would suggest.
Lavatory-lightness aside, this was an otherwise perfect event. Buoyed by some uncharacteristically but pleasantly warm October weather, many runners took full advantage of the mostly downhill first third of the route, haring past Buckingham Palace, St James’s Park and along the Embankment to Temple – where the course doubled back towards the finish in Hyde Park, this time via Trafalgar Square and Pall Mall.
As the route snaked around inside the 350-acre Hyde Park for the final seven miles or so, middle-of-the-packers came face-to-sweaty-face with the front runners on a couple of occasions, with mutual shouts of encouragement flying across the dividing barriers – although more than a few participants thought that staging over half of the race inside just one of the four parks was excessive.
However, a bulging, vocal crowd and loudhailer-wielding marshals prevented the runners from becoming bored; in fact, the support for this event was nothing short of formidable all the way to the finish line, where runners received an original crafted wooden medal.
While most of the population of Fleet in Hampshire enjoyed an extra hour in bed on October 26, a healthy mix of club runners and beginners turned up for the Peter Driver Memorial Fleet 10K and 5K road races. What the slightly featureless route lacked in interest, it made up for in speed, with the flat, triangular-shaped course encouraging quite a number of the 425 competitors to post season’s bests, if not PBs.
An efficient, well-organised race made all the more enjoyable for the noise made by the impressive number of locals prepared to stand in the rain and cheer on the runners. Simon Plummer was first man in 31:04 while Susie Bush was first woman in 34:55.