Nothing quite beats racing in London and the atmosphere generated in the nation’s capital is always something to behold. That was certainly evident at the Royal Parks Half Marathon where Adrian Townsend was among over 12,000 other runners who congregated for the huge event.

The race was in it’s 15th year and takes the participants on a tour past some of London’s iconic landmarks on a route that incorporates four of the city’s eight Royal Parks. They were Hyde Park, Green Park, St James’s Park and Kensington Gardens.

Adrian wasn’t there for the sightseeing though. He had a race to run and he was looking to do it to the best of his ability. The company he works for is a co-sponsor of the event which meant Adrian got a free entry and he wasn’t about to pass up that opportunity. It did mean he’d have to be up early in the morning through to get the 5:40am coach!

The race start area was at Hyde Park and there was a hive of activity taking place in the hours leading up to the race, with warm-up tents, plant-based food stalls and everyone and everything was catered for. It was almost a festival type atmosphere.

The course went first through Green Park and on towards Buckingham Palace. Heading past the Houses of Parliament, Trafalgar Square and Admiralty Arch, it touched on many of the popular London attractions and was something of a tourist’s dream.

There was even a stretch along the Serpentine, just before the half way point. The final, mile-long stretch took the runners past the Royal Albert Hall before heading over the finish line.

Start of the Royal Parks Half Marathon

With the sound of an airhorn, the Royal Parks Half Marathon gets underway

Starting off just under 7 minute mile pace, Adrian reached the 5k point in 21:41. Then he got to the 10k stage in 43:52 before continuing onto the 15k marker which he went through in 1:06:12.

His splits has all been pretty consistent up till that point and he was getting through most of them at between 7 and 7:10 pace. Reaching the 20k time check in 1:28:42, it was only a kilometre and a bit left to go. That culminated in a finishing time of 1 hour 33 minutes and 31 seconds.

Putting Adrian in 579th place in the overall standings, it was pretty decent run from Adrian. It was perhaps not quite as fast as he’d hoped but he was feeling good on the way round and had a good crack at it.

Coming 88th out of 1,855 in the M45-59 category, it had felt a bit like a mini London Marathon combined with a very busy parkrun. It was a quicker time than Adrian had run in the Solent Half Marathon a couple of weeks prior so from that perspective, he was going in the right direction. His average pace for the run was 7:05 minutes per mile.

Adrian Townsend in action at the Royal Parks Half Marathon

Adrian Townsend completed the Royal Parks Half Marathon in 1:33:31

Upon finishing the race the runners were given a whole host of goodies, including energy drinks and bananas, along with a cuddly toy, a snood and a t-shirt. They also received an eco-friendly wooden finisher’s medal.

The first man to have the medal hung round his neck was Oscar Bell, who got round in a super quick time of 1:07:12. The put him a minute-and-a-half ahead of his nearest challenger, Thomas Beasley, who crossed the line in 1:08:49. Raif Serif was 3rd in 1:10:21.

Lauren Church’s prayers were answered when she came in as first woman out of over 6,000, crossing the line in 1:19:48. That put her in 49th position overall.

It was quite a while before the next lady arrived and that was Emma Schaertlin Coffey who got round in 1:23:38. She came in 113th overall, with Olivia Sadler arriving shortly after to take 3rd female spot in 1:23:44. That put her in 118th place overall.