The second annual Thorpe Park Half Marathon took place on Sunday 25th February 2018. After a shaky start with epically long toilet queues, it turned out to be a great race for me. Here's how I got on.
Nearly missing the start of the race
Racers were advised to arrive at Thorpe Park no later than 7:45am for a 9am start due to the roads being closed. As instructed, we all dutifully arrived well over an hour before the start of the race and sat in our cars to keep warm on the freezing Sunday morning. I managed to catch a glimpse of the athlete village as we drove in and it certainly looked impressive: there was a band playing on a stage, a double decker bus that appeared to be a converted cafe, and even a man wandering around the car park playing the saxophone!
We waited in the car for about 15 minutes to stay warm and make sure everything was ready to go. We then meandered over to the portaloos, only to discover an incredibly long queue! There were 2000 runners signed up to this race but only 16 portaloos, you do the maths. We stood and waited for just about an hour as everyone started getting more and more agitated as we realised we may well miss the start of the race! Men and women alike were dashing into the bushes in order to do their thing and be able to make it to the start line on time. As it happened, I made it to the portaloo at 8:58 and after sprinting over to the start line I believe I crossed it at about 3 minutes past. While this isn't an issue regarding chip timing, it did mean I had no time to warm up or prepare for the race and I wasn't able to enjoy the athlete village!
Who's done their hill training?
The course is on fully closed roads in the villages surrounding Thorpe Park resort. The route is well marshalled and there are mile markers along the way. There were only two water stations that I noticed which meant I would have been gasping for water had I not brought my own.
The course is lovely and flat with only two notable inclines. The first wasn't even that bad, but the second was when the pack of runners was really split apart. The majority of runners around me were walking up the second hill, and it made me wonder who had been doing their all important hill training? Thankfully it's something I've been paying close attention to in my training so I was able to steam up the hill and leave the other runners in my dust! Apart from those two hills, the route is dead flat and even had about a mile which is a gentle downhill which made for a very easy run.
One of the best parts about the route is that the runners cross over the M25 motorway three times. This was really quite a sight for us as we watched the cars below shoot past and many of the runners were waving to drivers. It was a really cool experience and one that made the run all the more interesting.
The rest of the route was split between quiet housing estates and country lanes. Various residents had come to stand outside their houses and cheer us on which was wonderful and there was lots of support from marshals.
The miles flew by easily and before I knew it I only had 2.5 miles to go. I checked my Garmin 735XT watch and realised that I was on course for a PB, but would have to push right to the end. I picked up the pace and focussed hard to the finish. The band that had been playing in the event village before the race start had moved to an area just outside the park and were playing some incredibly fast music which helped to motivate me. I carried on pushing and finally made it to the line. Yes! I got a PB!
I was on an absolute high after the race having managed to beat my half marathon PB for the first time in 3 years. The course had been an absolute delight and the miles just flew by. There were tons of goodies post-race with a free event t-shirt, flapjack, sweets, Grenade protein shake, fruit, and a fantastic medal!
I was incredibly impressed with the organisation of this race and it really had a lot of extras. I think it's a shame there weren't more portaloos as I and all the other hundreds of people in the toilet queue did miss out on the festivities at the beginning of the race.
It was also quite a wait to get out of the car park- if you've ever been to Thorpe Park you know what to expect. However, overall I massively enjoyed this race and would rate it as one of my all-time favourites. Top marks to the RunThrough team!