What’s it like to run the London Landmarks Half?
In April this year, Chris Moore took part in the London Landmarks Half Marathon for St Catherine’s. Here he shares his experiences of running the 13.1 mile route on closed roads through Westminster and the City, exploring the grand, quirky and hidden landmarks of the capital:
The week before the event my preparation was as complete as it was going to get. A week of tapering (the practice of reducing exercise in the days just before an important competition) would seem like a welcome reprieve after the months of long runs in the cold and rain. I felt uncomfortable with the idea and almost convinced myself I knew better; I hope I’m not addicted to running! However, I followed the advice and restricted myself to a couple of short and steady jogs.
Everyone knows you eat a big bowl of pasta the night before a big race, I’m sure that’s what Steve Moneghetti does (probably). Then early to bed for eight hours sleep, unless you have children who don’t recognise the difference between your bed and theirs (love you Tilly!). Up at 5am for a bowl of cereal and fruit before we push the family out the door at 6:30am to get a train to London.
The Landmarks event was incredibly well organised and, combined with the support crew from St Catherine’s, I was relaxed and ready to enjoy the experience.
I was in the first wave, Lightning Wave, an administrative error surely! Although with around 23,000 other people also wanting to run, I was happy to be getting underway sooner rather than later.
Starting from Pall Mall the route wound past Trafalgar Square and along The Strand. The course was lined with supporters and volunteers from the countless charities. All of their encouragement was a welcome distraction from the fact that I still had 13 miles to go!
Through Covent Garden, there were theatre groups out singing, and a steel band along Embankment, then up to St Pauls and through the City of London. I had worked out that for my target time I should be at the first water station at approximately 19:00 minutes and as I arrived, I glanced at my watch and saw it was only 16:00 minutes. This was worrying. I had read about the traps of heading off too quickly in a race and realised that I was on target for a 10km personal best which was great but not the purpose of the day. I decided to go with it and worry about the other half of the race when I got there. As we passed through the old city there were church choirs singing, and the bells from St Mary-le-bow were ringing (the traditional definition of a Cockney is to be born within the sound of Bow Bells).
Passing the Bank of England at mile seven, I was reminded that the wonderful people of St Catherines Hospice were at mile nine and would be a welcome sight. Their cheering and support gave me the boost I needed as I looked ahead at one of the only real inclines in the route.
I was nearly at the Tower of London and bobbing ahead of me was the one hour 40-minute pace runner. This was my secret time goal, and to my surprise I seemed to be making ground on him quickly. As we rounded the hairpin at The Tower I passed the pacer and told myself I didn’t want to see him again before the end of the race. We headed along Embankment for the last three miles, and I reminded myself that the finish line was only a park run away. I had trained for the past three months in the dark rainy winter, covered over 350kms (200 miles), and survived multiple attempts from the children to take me down with their school/nursery illnesses (love you Tilly and Issy!).
As I crossed Westminster Bridge my legs felt like concrete, but the finish line was less than a mile away. Turning into Whitehall I could see the finish line, I put my head down and gave everything I had left. I crossed the line and stopped my watch. 1:36:02. Delusion surely. Double take. 1:36:02. Shocked, I walk through the finish to see my three girls clapping, cheering, and holding their GO DADDY sign. An incredible experience, a fabulous event, and a PB that I wouldn’t have dreamed of.
Thanks to all my donors for their exceptionally generous support of St Catherine’s which resulted in over £750 being raised. They are an amazing charity, and we will be forever grateful for the care they provided for Eileen and support they gave to our family. I am very proud to have been able to run on their behalf.
Ballot places for the 2024 London Landmarks Half Marathon on Sunday 7 April have now been announced, but St Catherine’s has charity places for next year’s event.
If you are interested in taking part in this brilliant run, or another active challenge, please call the fundraising team on 01293 447361 or click here.