Wednesday, 9 March 2016

Innovation Sports Half Marathon in Victoria Park

So my second half marathon of the 2015 and my 14th overall but for South London running organisers Innovation Sports their first event in East London and Victoria Park

I arrived far too early as I had over estimated the efficiency of Sunday morning public transport. I still arrived to see the finishing touches of the race village coming together. Race number pick up point, registration point, bag drop off tent all the usual things you would expect at a race along with less regular features such as a mobile artisan coffee seller and a pet food stall courtesy of race sponsors Pooch and Mutt.

The events race compare was soon on the mic providing enthusiastic cajoling for the small bunch of runners gathered for the half marathon (later start times saw a 5K, 10K & a children's race). 

It was a very cold wintry morning and one of my biggest running challenges presented itself to me in the guise of trying to attach my timing chip to my trainers laces with my cold and numb fingers. 

It was an arduous and difficult task that was ridiculously painful on my freezing fingers, they don't mention these kind of things when they talk about the joy of running do they?! 

It was soon time to start gathering on the start line so I took my place in a small field of around 100 runners as the race compare encouraged runners to make there way to the start line. I noted quite a happy mixture of both seasoned runners and what looked like fresh faced first timers which made for a happy atmosphere. There seemed to be a few late running stragglers so we duly waited until all the runners were in place.

After a slightly protracted start the race was underway and we embarked on four laps of the park. Having run the RunThrough half marathon in the park only four weeks earlier I was eager to compare the two events and courses. Runthrough had opted for a six lap route running a simple lap of the perimeter of the park with a lap of the running track to finish. Innovation however opted for a more twisty turny four lap route which included a small section over grass on each lap.

I much preferred the Runthrough six lap course however the Innovation Sports way did provide much better views of the park and of the surrounding East London area. The innovation course was far too complicated though and doubled back on itself at points, which made it hard to run a fast time and could also be mentally challenging. 

The other problem was that the course was looooong, I and several others (according to strava) measured the course quite a bit in excess of 13.1 miles. I'm sure the organisers did their best to ensure the route was accurate but all the twists and turns might have added a few extra metres either in actual distance ran or 'virtually' according to the inaccuracies of strava.

The course though was very well marshaled with several marshals positioned in the key spots to direct and cheer on runners. There were one or two girls stood out on the course who were of incredibly cheery disposition despite the bitter cold, hats off to you guys your support was awesome! 

As for my actual run, I really tried to focus on consistent pacing following my recent attendance at the running works seminar. Although I didn't manage to maintain my desired pace I did feel a lot stronger than my run in February and was able to enjoy the run itself a lot more. I over estimated my strong finish though as I kicked for home a bit too soon (at about 18K) thinking I could finish with a few quick kilometres and I soon struggled to maintain a strong finish in the final kilometre. 

Post race a medal, a tshirt, a bottle of water and a cereal bar provided satisfactory race loot. The attendance of a mobile coffee vendor then came into its own as I was able to purchase a nice hot caffeinated drink to warm me up and give me a post race boost. 

Overall an enjoyable mornings running and I am very much starting to love running in Victoria park. As for innovation sports I don't know if I am that likely to run another of their events purely as I don't see myself venturing over to their regular Clapham home anytime soon, but if you happen to be based a bit closer definitely give one of their races a go as they are an enthusiastic bunch aiming at putting on fun and enjoyable races.