2012 Kingston 16 Mile Challenge

The Kingston Run Challenge is an annual race which starts in Kingston and heads out to Hampton, with several different categories covering various numbers of laps, and today I took part in the individual 16 mile race that consisted of two laps.

The course started in Kingston town centre, headed across the bridge and then took the river path down to Hampton. The route then headed over Hampton Bridge, down to Esher, and then along the Portsmouth Road back to Kingston town centre.

The 16 mile race started at 8.30am and at that time Kingston was covered in fog and was very cold. I decided to spend as much time warming up as I could – I’ve spent too much time waiting at start lines cooling down after a good warm-up.

The problem with starting at the back was that I had to overtake so many slow people, which was particularly difficult along the river path down to Hampton, although I eventually found myself some space with people running at my pace.

The route to Hampton was quite scenic and it was nice to try something different. The run through Esher and Ditton wasn’t particularly stunning and we didn’t see the river again until shortly before Kingston but it was nice to see somewhere different.

The first lap went really well and I felt very comfortable. It was a bit hard running past the finish line to start the second lap but at least I was halfway and so knew what I had to do all over again to get back there again.

The second lap was a lot harder though. At the ten-mile marker I started to feel a twinge in my right knee that didn’t go away and so I stopped and took a few minutes to exercise and stretch so that cramp didn’t come on. Fortunately it kept away.

I started to fade though and many people who had been running at my pace ran past me and into the distance. I pushed hard and was occasionally able to run at pace but kept dropping back. I wasn’t sure why this was happening.

After what felt like an eternity I finally saw Kingston Bridge in the distance and gradually approached the finish line. The last mile felt like three miles but eventually the finish line came into view and I crossed it in 2 hours 22 minutes.

This was a good event because the distances were slightly irregular – they were multiples of eight miles rather than the classic ten kilometres or half marathon, so let you try something different, and you were running alongside people on different laps.

There were very few spectators though – the Ealing half-marathon a couple of weeks ago had thousands of people lining the streets but I saw barely two hundred people watching this event. We did appreciate the spectators though and some of them were very enthusiastic.

There was no medal at the end, which was a bit unusual, but there was a commemorative mug for all finishers which was a nice touch, as well as unlimited water and Lucozade.

I enjoyed the event and it felt like a comfortable training run. It was nice to check out a new area and try a new distance. I think it could have been better publicised, both for participants and spectators, but those who attended had a good time.