Friday, 31st March 2023
Article Image

Lesson's learnt at Ealing Half Marathon #EalingFeeling

by Editor
Thursday 2nd October 2014
Tags  Paul Shanley   |   Ealing Half Marathon   |   EalingFeeling   |   Pic2Go   |   Sussex Sports Photography   |   Pacing   |   Simon Freeman   |   Xempo

Race report: Pacing, First Aid, race photos and interviewing the Kenyans... Paul Shanley reports from an eventful Ealing Half Marathon - Sunday, September 28, 2014

Ealing Half Marathon - Sunday, September 28, 2014

Photos: Lammas Park provides a great base for the race while the sun shines on participants and spectators

I met the organisers of the Ealing Half Marathon back in 2013 at an evening they hosted before the 2013 race (HERE). They were such a friendly bunch and had some great plans and ideas for growing the event, that I was disappointed I couldn’t actually run it that year.

Twelve months on whilst preparing for the Amsterdam Marathon, I had a free weekend on race day, so decide to experience the Ealing Feeling (the hashtag used be the race #EalingFeeling).

The 2013 race had been another success and since that meeting 12 months ago the race had picked up a couple of awards (Number One Half Marathon in the UK - The Running Awards 2014, Number One for Atmosphere 2013 - Runner's World) so I was really looking forward to running the 2014 edition.

Race day morning was greeted with a nice clear sky and it looked like it was going to be a warm day. Upon arrival at the race-village in Lammas Park I was impressed with the overall layout and facilities on hand. To the far corner of the park there was a large marquee for baggage storage, more centrally was an expo area with sponsors and food stands and then, near the start line, lots of toilets.

The running community, although very large, does seem small at times and it was great to see lots of friendly and familiar faces who were involved in the race. One of those was Dan from Xempo (www.xempo.co.uk)  and I headed over to the tent to find a pacer to run with. Having just got back into running I am really trying to improve my times, so I was stuck on whether I should run with the 1.40 pacers or the 1.50 pacers (the 1.50 being more my standard). Luckily for me after a quick chat with Dan in turns out they had a 1.45 pace group to take around a lucky competition winner - Mike. Mike had won the ultimate Ealing Half Marathon package which include kit from Asics, a stay in a nice hotel and his own individual pace maker. Mike’s individual pacer was running celebrity and all round nice guy Simon Freeman from Like the Wind Magazine (www.likethewindmagazine.com).

To get the runners warmed up to run the organisers had put on a group warm-up led by The Gym, Ealing. After that we all headed up to the race starts which were ordered by race time. I have to say it was very civilised at the start and nearly all the runners looked as though they  had positioned themselves into realistic time categories - with 6,000 runners this was very impressive and throughout the race I wasn’t overtaking lots of people or being overtaken - not sure as a race organiser how you make this happen, but I am sure having a good range of pacers and the start corals being well signed made a big difference (and of course runners being realistic on what time they are going to run).

Ealing Half Marathon - Sunday, September 28, 2014

Photos: Paul Shanley (in black, No. 5991) takes away a lot of lessons! © Sussex Sports Photography (SussexSportPhotography.com)

The race itself was brilliant - The course had a lot more hills than I expected and there were a number of twists and turns, but again the organisers had made the effort to put up signs telling you if a turn was coming up and the direction, which gave everyone enough time to get themselves in the right part of the road. I didn't know the area of Ealing at all but the course had enough interesting landmarks to look at and the support on the route was brilliant. The local community have really got behind the race and lots of people had come out of their houses to cheer us on.

The water stations were also really well done - again great organisation and lots of volunteers, which helped keep everything flowing. Its also nice to have Evian water to drink (I sound like I shop at Waitrose too much), with it being a hot day

One of my concerns at the start was the number of people running and congestion out on the course but although it did get a bit tight at times, there was plenty of room to run and get your own space, you just needed to be aware of other runners around you, which is not necessarily a bad thing (more on this later!).

In terms of my race I was really enjoying the race, running with a pacer allowed me to relax a bit more and Simon Freeman paced the run pretty perfect. Speaking to Simon before hand he was looking to see naturally what we did the first mile in and then look to either speed up/slow down or as we did continue at that pace. Pacing is definitely an art form all of its own and big respect to those that do it for the races, as in my opinion is a vital service. As obvious as it might sound, Simon was using the mile markers the race had put in place and his watch to keep on eye on our pace - checking that off against my Garmin GPS it is interesting to see how it can slightly change and Simon did tell us a story about him and friend who were running a race where his friend held back based on information from his GPS and missed the pace he wanted - The moral of the story is the race finishes when you cross the finish line not when your watch bleeps to say you have done the distance.

As with a lot of races I do, it started to get a bit painful around three quarters of the way through and I decided to do what I normally do in these circumstances and speed up! This always happens to me, but generally I get to a point where it hurts and I want it to do stop, so in my logic I decide to go quicker to get it over with faster (and stop the pain).

I started to move away from Simon, which a big part of me didn't want to do as he had got the pacing spot on, but although in pain I did think I could cope with the extra speed. I was very much in the zone with just over two miles to go when I half noticed a guy running next to me with a really odd style.

I wasn't looking directly at him but from what I could see, he was running nearly bent over with his head sticking out. I did think it was odd but he was moving along still so I assumed he was ok - it was only when another runner shouted out to me to grab said guy as he was about to go down, that I realised he was not in a good way. The guy was really disorientated and didn’t really know where he was and had we not stopped him would have certainly ended up face first on the road.

Ealing Half Marathon - Sunday, September 28, 2014

Photos: Ealing Half winners Ben Siwa and Gladys Yator and Team run-fast athlete manager Tom Payn. The men's podium

It was a strange experience, as the guy wanted to carry on running and as we were holding him he was moving his feet and asking us to let him carry on. As I was feeling a bit out of it myself at that point, it did take a while to process that the guy was in a bad condition and he really started to go downhill quickly.

Luckily Simon, the guy who had stopped to help (or big Simon as he was known in Ealing, not the same as Simon Freeman the pacer!), was quick to get him in the shade and the recovery position and attempt to cool him down until the ambulance got there. For the first minute of stopping, I kept thinking about my time and how long this was going to take, but as I started to think a bit more clearly, all of sudden the finish of the race seemed so unimportant and the key was getting this guy help and quick.

I doing everything I could to help him. Looking back, I can raise a smile about how crazy it was that he was in the recovery position and we were working hard to keep him talking and awake and every now and then he would look at his watch, as though he was working out what time he would finish in (let me tell you it was pretty scary!).

I have to say there is a nice happy ending - the ambulance turned up pretty quickly and they looked after him.

The last two miles were really good - I was happy the guy was ok and I had a big appreciation that we were fortunate to be able to finish the race. Big Simon was from the local running club (Ealing Eagles www.ealingeagles.com ) and was quite a celeb with nearly everyone we ran past shouting out hello to him.

The crowd and support along the last bit of the course was all really good and after a short run around the park we were across the finish line. The finish area was great with the sun shining down and everyone out relaxing in the park, talking about the race.

I always try to learn and take away something away from an event and Ealing Half has provided me with a lot of lessons:

  1. Pacing is hard to do and it makes a big difference to have someone who can do it for you!

  2. Look out for your fellow runners - we can all get a bit too focused in our own race, which most of the time isn’t a problem, but its good to be aware of what is happening around you.

  3. Chase PBs as they are important, but they are not everything! Know when its your day and also when its not your day for a pb. You can always do another race.

  4. I need to take a first aid course. Nothing worse than someone needing help and you being unsure of what to do.

  5. Ealing is a very nice, with lots of friendly people, so go and see it!

  6. Running is hard - very hard. It hurts and I always think I can run faster than I actually do. I suspect that is what makes it challenging.

  7. Always expect a race to have hills.

  8. The Ealing Half Marathon is a great race. If you haven't already, go and run it!

A big thank you to the organisers, the race sponsors and the community of Ealing for putting on a great race and great day.

I finished the race in just under 1 hour 54 which considering what went on I was more than happy with. For those interested you can see my Garmin stats below  (What seemed like a long time looking after someone was actually only 6 minutes!)

I also took the opportunity at the finish to improve my interview technique especially with the Kenyan athletes and spoke to both the male and female winners Ben Siwa and Gladys Yator:

For more information you can visit the website www.ealinghalfmarathon.com  and give them a follow on Facebook (www.facebook.com/ealinghalf) and Twitter (twitter.com/EalingHalf)


Thanks to Sussex Sports Photography (SussexSportPhotography.com) for some of the pictures. They were using new technology called Pic2Go (HERE) and each of the bib numbers had a square barcode on it, which allows special software to read the picture and identify the runner.

If you want to see how well it works, look at the picture of me below, with just the tiniest bit of the bib number showing (lucky it's the bit with bar code on!). This technology allows photos to be taken with a much wider view, adding more context to the picture.

Another big benefit is that the pictures can be put online quicker! Great piece of technology and will be interesting to see how this develops!

Pic2Go technology


Related Articles

Article Image
4th Ealing Half Marathon hailed huge suc...Race report: The Ealing Half Marathon - Sunday, September 27, 2015
Article Image
Sun shines on runners at Maidenhead Half...Race report: Maidenhead Half Marathon - Sunday, September 6, 2015
Article Image
Pacing 100 mile races - it’s about the...Fresh from supporting a friend at the South Downs Way 100, Run247 columnist Kirs...
Article Image
It's all about the pace...John Levison, editor of our sister site Tri247, points out that 'Hope' isn't a v...
Article Image
Serpentine double at Ealing Half! Jonathan Poole and Isabel Clark win 6th Ealing Half Marathon
Article Image
Preview of this weekend's Ealing HalfWho's going to have that #EalingFeeling this weekend?
Article Image
ASICS and Up & Running support Ealing Ha...Ealing Half takes place on Sunday 24th September
Article Image
Last chance to run Ealing Half for chari...Last week for charity entries!

Post A Comment

TereréJordan Blood