London played host to The Royal Parks Foundation Half Marathon on Sunday 11 October, and saw 16,000 runners complete a scenic 13.1 mile race through four of London’s Royal Parks and past the capital’s most iconic landmarks.
Former Olympic swimming champion Rebecca Adlington sounded the starter horn for the race, which took runners past Buckingham Palace, the London Eye, Houses of Parliament, the Royal Albert Hall, and through Hyde Park, The Green Park, St James’s Park and Kensington Gardens.
Royal Parks Foundation supporters and race ambassadors Charlie Webster and BBC presenter Sophie Raworth ran for Team Squirrel, the charity’s 300-strong running team which is hoping to raise £60,000 for activities in the Royal Parks, including an education programme for young people at their Education Centre in Hyde Park.
Coming in at a time of 1:47:42, Sophie said: “There’s a great crowd as always; every year it gets bigger and better. The race was perfect preparation for New York Marathon later this year.”
Charlie, coming in at 2:01;01, added: “It’s one of the most beautiful half marathons that you can do. As I’m from London and it’s on my own stomping ground, there’s a real family feel to it and the atmosphere is great. It’s the second time I’ve completed the race, so I’m delighted to complete the race again.”
Other celebrity runners included BBC Radio2 DJ Jo Whiley, BBC presenter Emily Maitlis, Fat Boy Slim DJ Norman Cook, and TV presenter Jenni Falconer. The winning runner Russ Best, from North Yorkshire, made it around the course in a time of 1:09:39, and said: “I wanted to have a solid run and after a mile I saw that I was slower than I wanted and capable of so I took it on from there.
“It’s my first time doing Royal Parks Foundation Half Marathon. The course is challenging in the right areas and pretty fast. It takes in the cool London landmarks – great fun.”
The fastest female runner was Gaby Van Clarke, from London, running on behalf of Great Ormond Street, who covered the distance in 1:21:53, said: “I can’t believe I won; I’ve never run a half marathon so quick in my life. I had twins last year and this is incredible.”
Commenting on today’s race, Sara Lom, Chief Executive of the Royal Parks Foundation, said: “It was wonderful to see so many runners coming together from all across the UK and abroad to support The Royal Parks. Urban green space is so important to our health and well-being and the money raised through this event helps to keep the magic of the Royal Parks alive - restoring monuments and playgrounds and engaging children with the natural world”.