I only moved to East London about eight months ago, before then I lived in South West London for about five years, so it seems a bit strange that I’ve never actually managed to take on the RunThrough Wimbledon Common half marathon. Not only that, but I absolutely love the common. I used to do a marathon training route from Wandsworth that took me through it, before heading into Richmond Park and then back down the Thames.
Richmond Park is beautiful, and one of my favourite places in the UK, but the common has a sort of overgrown, random woodland vibe. I remember once, I was wandering through it and I found a little nature reserve that’s hidden away in the middle. I’d been there dozens of times before and never came across it. A run there can be a pretty interesting chance to get lost. It’s an amazing place. Have a look at the map here.
Anyway, it seems a bit odd that I never got round to running the RunThrough event. The only reason I can think of is that it’s pretty hard to get to by public transport, and I never used to be a big fan of getting up earlier than necessary. Still, I managed to do it finally, and it was a damn good decision
It’s been a while since I’ve run a straight half marathon. The last few races I’ve done have been the Race to The Stones, a 10-mile race and a couple of 10ks. Normally I run a load of halves in quick succession, but this year has been pretty light on the 13-mile races. It’s not really the time of year for half marathons anyway. As a result, I’m not as fit as I have been when it comes to the distance. Add to that the fact it was about 30 degrees on the course and you’ve got me looking pretty weak as I cross the finish line.
How tough is it?
I’ll be honest with you here, the Wimbledon Common Half is not an easy race. If it wasn’t in London you’d probably call it a trail run, especially considering the ground was completely dry on this occasion. Stick a bit of rain and mud into the mix and you’ve got a very taxing race (I may give the October one a go for comparison). The course undulates a bit, however, there is one pretty big climb at the start which is an absolute killer on the second lap of the 2-lap race.
On this occasion, in the most ridiculous heatwave I’ve ever seen, things were considerably tougher. Large chunks of the race take place under roads and tracks shaded by trees, however, a fair chunk are open, and those bits are really tough. Relentless in fact. I’m not a good runner in the heat at the best of times, and this event pushed me way past my limits.
What’s the route like?
Save for the one major hill, the course is a beautiful woodland route which winds its way through some of the nicer parts of the Common. Some of it is tough, with long stretches that come back on themselves, but there’s a really nice long descent of about a kilometre that’s a very nice treat. The route also goes through the Wimbledon Common golf course – I’m always a bit wary when I go past a golf game.
The start and finish take place in the Richardson Evans Memorial Playing Fields, a massive sports field which makes for a dramatic return as the crowd’s cheer on the way back in.
Who’s it for?
Unlike most of the RunThrough races, there are no shorter options for this one. It’s also a pretty taxing half marathon route on the best of days, so you’ll need to be ready for the distance. You should probably also be comfortable running on uneven ground. As a frequent trail run injury connoisseur, I know only too well the need to keep an eye on the ground. You definitely need to do that with this event. There are various tree branches, rocks and small holes dotted about. So not a race for the beginner.
In fact, if you are looking to do some trail training, Wimbledon Common is probably your best bet in central London.
How was the organisation?
The RunThrough crew have been hosting this event for a while, so as you’d expect, it’s pretty well-managed. Signage, marshals, water and first aid were spot on. As well as the medal, they also gave out the reliable and delicious flapjacks, along with some surprisingly tasty quinoa bars.
A great, but tough event in a really nice London location. You’ll need to plan your travel, but if you’re looking for something a bit different from pretty much any other London half marathon, it’s well worth a visit.
To sign up for the October event, head over to the RunThrough website. It’s £28 and you get a medal, a t-shirt, snacks and a high-five from a womble (possibly the only race that offers that).