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Event review: Vitality North London Half
On Sunday 20 March I headed to Wembley Stadium along with thousands of other runners for the Vitality North London Half marathon. With what participants are promised is ‘the greatest finish line in the world’ and an extra game-day mentality as the crowds gathered around the stadium, all was set for a promising race.
As people of all ages and abilities assembled in their estimated-time pens, there was an amazing atmosphere with music and encouragement blasting out from speakers. After months of solitary marathon training it’s always nice to be surrounded by fellow runners at races like these, donned in bright colours, charity tops and costumes.
Following last year’s successful inaugural event, the route for this one was reversed to incorporate Saracens’ Allianz Park at the halfway point and put the finish inside the iconic Wembley Stadium – a stadium-to-stadium (-to stadium!) course. The route is great and takes you past some of North London’s leafy green patches, great for any city dweller. There were however quite a few hills, which proved especially challenging in the last few miles.
Having a halfway point – an exciting (distracting!) loop inside the Saracens’ stadium – helps psychologically as you know you’re heading back to the finish line from this point and recognise certain areas along the way.
With the mile markers, volunteers and supporters pushing you on it’s exciting to see Wembley as a finish-in-sight marker to head towards in the last couple of miles. Running under the famous arch, into the stadium and over the finish line does feel special in such an iconic venue especially with so many supporters cheering for you from the stands.
Falling five weeks before the Virgin Money London Marathon it is great timing for training. The water and Lucozade stations, as well as the lovely supporters and volunteers are a huge help along the way and something you don’t get during your own training runs.
I also ran the Vitality Brighton Half at the end of February. This was another expertly organised event with a beautiful course along the seafront. Both of these events take place at the perfect time – whether you are training for a longer event or not!
As part of my build-up to full the marathon in April, I am testing different nutrition products. For the last couple of months I have been taking Bio Synergy’s Acai Berry and Green Tea capsules for an extra boost of antioxidants and caffeine – beneficial for anyone, especially for those pounding the pavements!
Stephanie Tait, Sportsister
The Women’s Sports Magazine