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Big Half

Ian Saunders
March 4th, 2018 · 4 min read

Race information

  • What? London Big Half Marathon
  • When? March 4, 2018
  • How far? 13.1 miles / 21,098 miles
  • Where? London, UK
  • Website: The Big Half
  • Strava activity: Strava
  • Finish time: 1:20:39


A~ 1:23Yes
B< 1:25Yes
CPB (< 1:29:30)Yes


After York Marathon and Brecon Beacon Ultra I took a break from focusing too hard on running, and just ran for enjoyment for a couple months. After a busy racing calendar in 2017 and a busy one in 2018 I needed to just pause and remember the fun of getting out. I was lucky enough to visit Burma and run around the rain-forest for a couple weeks, so when I got back to London and San Francisco, I was ready to hit the track and push.

My first A race, Umstead 100, takes place on the 7th of April and shortly after that my other A race, Edinburgh Marathon. The training plan I used for York Marathon seemed on point, so I tweaked it a little to factor in a few longer runs.

During this training period I managed to reduce my 5k time down to 17:31 after being stuck on 18:0X for ages (like 3 months)


I hadn’t really planned any pre-Umstead race, but a kind soul in my running club had some allocations for this run at £10/$15 a pop! Hard to say no to that. Furthermore it was the inaugural Big Half race, Mo Farah, Daniel Wanjiru and Callum Hawkins would be lining up at the front. Rude to say no.

For those of you who don’t live in London/England - you may not have been aware, but the week before this race it snowed and snowed and snowed. It caused mass disruption, and also mass race cancellations. Bath Half Marathon, Newport Half Marathon (Which Andy from York Marathon Fame was running) were all canceled - regardless, London Marathon Company were adamant The Big Half was going ahead. Even on the Friday before the race, streets were covered in Snow. By some sort of magic, and some very hard work from everyone involved the snow was cleared and melted away in time for the race!

I wasn’t feeling 100% on Saturday, so slept quite a bit of the afternoon which turned out to be just the fix I needed. I awoke to perfect running conditions on race day.

Aside: Though the weather turned out great, a lot of people were not able to get down to London due to flight cancellations and weather related issues. The organizers allowed anyone who was not able to come to earn their medal by uploading a half-marathon run to Strava. Kudos!


Living only 15mins away I was able to have a decent sleep, meet up with the running club crew and catch the tube over to London Bridge just in time for the bag drop, though the snow had gone away, it was still bloody cold!

I had put a < 1:28 finish and got put in the A pen, got to walk around and do a few strides before the run.

My initial intention was to go out at around a 4km/min pace which would give me a < 1:25 finish. As I lined up, the words of a friend rung in my ear, “Why not 1:20?“. And I guess, why not? What’s the worst that could happen - I was pretty certain I could just reduce the pace if things got a bit uncomfortable.

The race starts with an ever increasing heart-beat which then descends into a fog horn start, and we were off!

The first 5kms or so were pretty much flat, with a slight up and down. I stuck to the game plan of 3:50m/km and things were flowing nicely. A benefit of wearing the club colours was an occasional random supporter in the crowd! There was limited wind, but I religiously tucked in behind every person I could, I have no shame… A fun part of this section was running through the Limehouse link tunnel, usually this is reserved for cars so was a little novel descending and then ascending the link.

At around 6kms I took my first half gel. Marathon nutrition has been a bit of stickling point. I really enjoy the Gu gels, but I struggle to ingest them when running quickly. Over the last 2 months I have worked my way through 6 different brands of gel - chocolate flavour for each <3. I finally found a brand called Huma which had just the right balance of energy, caffeine and was easy enough to swallow. I ate half a gel, drank a few sips of water and felt great.

The next 10kms were pretty uneventful apart from the novelty of running over Tower Bridge on the road. The bridge was actually rather windy so I tucked in behind whoever I could and worked my way across, I was a little more than half way now! My pace had been bang on and was still give-or-take on for 1:20ish.

Making my from Tower Bridge to Greenwich went pretty smoothly as well. Once again I tucked in behind whoever was around, and worked with them to get the job done. There was quite an amusing bit of guerrilla marketing going on, a relatively stacked chap was wearing only a pair of underwear from a brand called “Runderwear” - which cause endless amusement for spectators. I also caught sight of someone wearing a wedding gown, turned out he was going for some sort of fancy dress world record!

On the windier bits of the run my pace had wavered a little, losing a few seconds here and there. As I approached the 1km to go I decided to try seal the deal and dropped my pace to 3:40/km and finally 3:30/km for the final 500m. It felt great to finish strong, unlike York! and I finished in 1:20:39!!! A new PB by around 9 minutes 8)


After the race I met up with a few of the runners from LCAC and had a good chat with them. The club had brought in a ton of fantastic PBs, so everyone was in great spirits. A beer, a sandwich and I headed home for a well deserved rest.

This post was generated using the new race reportr, a tool built by /u/BBQLays for making organized, easy-to-read, and beautiful race reports.




Lovely Morning to Run Lovely Morning to Run

Thanks running friends! Thanks running friends!

Pushing hard at the end! Pushing hard at the end!


More articles from Ian Saunders

Brecons Ultra

If it hadn't been for my fair-chunk of slippery trail running, and this being the 4th time I ran this section, I would have had to walk it all.

November 18th, 2017 · 7 min read

Yorkshire Marathon

Once we crested the top of the hill there was a nice soft downhill, we upped the pace to 4:10 min/km to bank time for the return leg of this out-and-back section.

October 8th, 2017 · 7 min read
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