After completing the North London Half Marathon, I am happy to report that I have claimed another destination on my quest to run the world. Olympic gold medalist Mo Farrah fired the starting gun, and I, along with 7000 other runners including three buddies from my running group in Holland, took to the streets of North London for the inaugural event. Here’s my take on the event: the good, the bad, and the ugly.
A few ladies from my running group and I hopped over to London for the weekend for the race – and of course to also enjoy a bit of the city – making it the inaugural destination race for the group. It wasn’t a relay or a Team Run the World event a la Milano City Marathon, but we’d all trained together over the past few months, so it was nice to finally reap the fruits of our labor. It was also nice to have some more destination race cohorts. Having my namesake Mo Farrah start the race was a good feature, as was looping around Olympic Way and entering the famous Wembley Stadium.
I’m not a football fan, but my appreciation for the stadium is totally from a pop culture point of view, specifically being a fan of British pop bands in the ’80s and recalling that playing at Wembley was a huge deal (HELLO. Live Aid and Wham! The Final Concert). There was a timing mat set up, which displayed my name on the big screen as I ran through the stadium. While it wasn’t George Michael serenading me, it definitely goes into the “good” column.
I’ll add a few more ticks in the “good “ column because the event was well organized, with everything from the bag drop off, to hydration stops, to goody bag and medal distribution at the end going smoothly and quickly, for cute finisher shirts and medals (I do appreciate nice race bling).
It is no secret that I am a fair-weather runner, and have whined, or whinged, as the Brits would say, about the weather on race day in Madrid, Istanbul, and Nice. Now I’m adding North London to the list. It was cold. It was grey. It was windy. It was blah. Though I don’t subscribe to the “there’s no bad weather, just bad clothing” theory – because let’s face it, there IS bad weather – I will own my part in this and admit that knowing that I am always cold, I did not dress as warmly as I should have. That being said, the sucky weather still goes in the bad column, as will my attitude about it.
The North London Half overtakes the previously mentioned Milano City Marathon for the most visually unappealing race I’ve ever run. The route was definitely “the ugly”, and since it went out and back, it was double the pleasure (*sarcasm font*). Adding injury to insult were the numerous hills (though molehills compared to Jerusalem, but still) and the lack of crowd support along the mostly residential streets that the route took us through.
Except for Wembley Stadium, there were no interesting sites. The finish at Allianz Park where the local rugby team plays may have been a big deal for those who are from the area or rugby fans, but since I am neither, I wasn’t impressed.
The Final Assessment
While the route and the weather were not so good, in the end, doing what I love, with good friends and conquering another destination on my quest to run the world made it ALL GOOD.
Opening photo credit: Vitality North London Half Marathon
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