I was looking for a half marathon for my training cycle for NYC, when I got the opportunity to run the Urban Rush in London. A 15 mile race through Central London for Shelter UK. That seemed like the perfect training run, since the roads would still be open and there would be a few bridges involved. The 15 mile route goes from the Olympic Park in Stratford to Bishop Park in Putney and mostly follows the Thames Path.
I arrived at the start around 8.30 am and it was really easy to pick up my bib and t-shirt. It was pretty chilly in the morning, so I was really happy that the start was near a cafe where I could wait inside for a while until the start of the race. Luckily, the sun came out during the warm up and I had a quick chat with Marcus before the start.
First bit of the race went through the Olympic Park and past Victoria Park along Regents Canal. Then through the Barbican and past St. Paul’s. Before I knew it we were at the Millennium Bridge and past the 10k mark. There were about 300 runners taking part in the race and although I mostly could see a few runners in front and behind me, I did have to pay attention to the signs and other traffic. One time a sign was on the wrong side of the road than the others, so I though I had to cross and maybe even turn at the traffic light, but after that I didn’t see any signs anymore. Luckily the runner behind me did see the next sign which actually went straight ahead and I saw her running in that direction and knew that I had gone the wrong way. Other than that the signs were pretty easy to follow.
The course got a bit more crowded on the Thames Path, because it was a lovely sunny Sunday. I almost bumped into another runner near the OXO Tower and he said something to me. At first I though he was mad, because I might have been in his way, but after a few seconds I actually realised he told me to keep it up and that I was doing great. Since all Urban Rush runners were wearing the same red shirts and a bib it was clear that we were racing although the roads weren’t closed, so once in a while people would cheer us on. We went past the London Eye and crossed over to the north side of the Thames Path. We went through Pimlico and after we passed Battersea Park went over to the south bank again. I managed to maintain a good pace, roughly 8 min/km, sometimes a bit more sometimes a bit less depending on the traffic and the traffic lights.
Since I wanted this to be a training run and I didn’t know how much the open roads would slow me down, I decided that I should try to aim to run it the same pace as I did in Berlin. So I looked up my time at 24k during the Berlin Marathon. That became my goal: 3:20. If I could go a little faster and make 3:15 that would be even better, but if the traffic would bother me and it would be 3:30, no big deal because the time limit was 4 hours. When I got close to Bishops Park I realised I might have a chance go and get under 3:15, so tried to push it a little at the end. I finished in 3:12, so I’m pleased with that, especially considering the open roads, stairs and bridges that were involved. Had a great time running this race and enjoyed the lovely views London has to offer.
In the end Urban Rush raised £130,000 for Shelter so they can fight bad housing and homelessness. Great day, great race, great cause!