Trial run: The Royal Parks Foundation Half Marathon

Despite a dodgy knee and shameful lack of training, Nicola Moyne put London’s much-loved Royal Parks Foundation Half marathon through its paces earlier this month. Spoiler: it’s a game changer

It’s not often that you get overtaken by a man dressed up as a giant nipple, but then again it’s not often I run (aka jog slowly while downing my own body weight in energy drinks) 13.1 miles around London’s most scenic parklands.

Yep, I’m talking The Royal Parks Foundation Half Marathon, which took place on Sunday 9th October. Previously a RPH virgin, I’d heard a lot about this event. I have friends who sign up every year and enthusiastically rave on about how amazing is it for months afterwards. ‘It’s just the best atmosphere,’ they say. ‘You’ll adore the route,’ they say. ‘It’s really fun,’ they say. I’d love to continue my annual eye-roll at all this unnecessary sporting effusiveness, but having now run my first ever Royal Parks Foundation Half Marathon, the hype is spot on: it is fun.

Royal Parks Half Marathon

Curving through handsome Hyde Park, Green Park, St James’s Park and Kensington Gardens, as well as some of the capital’s most iconic landmarks – think Buckingham Palace, Horse Guards Parade and the Royal Albert Hall – the route is a bit of a stunner, and looks even better bathed in autumn’s dappled sunshine.

‘It’s always sunny; we’re blessed with the most fantastic weather every year,’ Royal Parks Foundation trustee and race ambassador Ben Fogle tells me as I tuck into a well-deserved brownie post-finish line. ‘There’s a real sense of community and family here.’

But it’s no small-scale operation. In fact, despite 16,000 runners converging in Hyde Park, the event has retained a cool villagey vibe and boasts some killer food and drink pop-ups for that much-needed refuel afterwards, too.

Next year, though, organisers are taking things up a notch: it’s the Royal Parks Foundation Half 10th anniversary and it’s set to be bigger and better than ever.

Royal Parks Half Marathon

‘I don’t know what the plans are yet, but I know that they’ll pull out all the stops. I’m sure it will be something special,’ Ben confirms as I make friends with his adorable black lab, Storm (great post-race therapy, FYI) and spot Jenni Falconer looking inconceivably fresh.

So what are you waiting for? Register for information on opening dates today, and forget those pre-race nerves: you really will have fun, even if you do get whipped by a giant nipple…

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