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An on-foot sporting tour of North London

by Elle @ keep it simpElle
Thursday 24th March 2016
After taking on the inaugural Vitality North London Half Marathon in 2015, I was lured back with the temptation of an updated route. You can never really judge an event by their first attempt so I was curious to see what feedback had been taken on board. 
The start was moved to the more accessible location of Wembley Stadium for 2016 with the race village just minutes walk from public transport and accessible to a host of amenities provided by the race organisers and the local facilities. 

Elle Linton

The route was described as 'undulating with some gradual climbs', boasting the greatest finish line… in the world. This race is definitely one for the hill seekers. The start line itself was located on an incline, after an incline on your walk / run from the starting pens. 
The start of the route was rather narrow, so we were forced to take it easy to begin with. The route then took us straight through Fryent Country Park to show off leafy North London on a rare opportunity having the roads to ourselves. The course was recognisable from 2015, having been the second half of our 13.1 miles on that occasion, yet being just the first half this time around. 
We continued north towards Colindale through a mixture of main roads, residential areas and more industrial surroundings. Support on the course was somewhat sparse, however the charity support and children / young people manning the water stations certainly made up for it! Water stations were located frequently along the course along with toilets. 
Having started the race 30 minutes behind the Elites, it was at this point that I got the opportunity to see the winning man Josphat Kemi on his way back to the finish line with a lead he seemed to have maintained for the last few miles ahead of second place. With the majority of the course being an out and back, the crowds began to head to the finish too, glued to the pacers, determined to smash their PB’s. 
The half way point was marked by a lap around Allianz Park Stadium which had an atmosphere to lift your spirits. As you ran around the track, your name popped up on the big screen in support along with the MC making us laugh and smile as we headed out to finish up the race. The benefit and downfall of out an back race is that you know what is coming up next. Being at the back of the pack meant that the course was much quieter but the runners were friendly enough to chat to. 
Mile 10 was the most difficult hill made more of a challenge on tired legs and the sunshine which had come about at this point. As we ran past Wembley Park Station, the excitement grew for the finish. In my mind's eye we would turn the corner and run straight up the promenade and into the stadium onto the pitch. In actuality, we ran up the promenade then around the stadium via the car park, through some dark tunnels before exiting into the fun, bright fanfare of Wembley Stadium pitch side!! 

North London Half collage 2

Hearing my name being called over the tannoy as I came across the finish line certainly made me smile. Meeting up with friends in the finish area, watching everyone take their selfies with the stadium as their backdrop and collecting my medal after what can only be described as an on foot sporting tour of North London was the perfect finish to this race!

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