Dawn Nolan took part in the inaugral Reigate Half Marathon on 21 September this year. In addition to half marathon, the day included a Fitness and Food festival for runners and spectators to enjoy…
Being a Reigate local, I kept noticing various banners in town encouraging us to sign up. I was out in Reigate having dinner with friends last November and – after a few vinos later – we all agreed it would be a great new year challenge to take on together. With a couple of 10ks under my belt, a half marathon was my next obvious challenge. Plus the idea of running this brand new event in my own town with local friends and training for it together was exactly the motivation I needed. It was perfect timing.
There are various car parks in town but runners were encouraged to use public transport. And locals walked to Reigate’s Priory Park for the race start. We were kept in the racing pen for only five minutes or so. The race started on time and the bottleneck at the start wasn’t as bad as I had expected.
In terms of fuel and facilities, there were a total of 4 water stations at miles 3, 6, 9 and at the finish. There were no fuel stations at the route but bananas were handed out at the finish. In my view, the race had more than enough toilets. There was about a five minute queue for the toilet but many opted for the bushes in the forested area of the park!
Enjoying the scenic views
Apart from a few short, sharp hills, the course was relatively flat for Reigate which is generally considered hilly. That said, I heard non-locals saying it was much more hilly than they’d expected! There were lovely views out to the Surrey hills stretching across the North Downs from Dorking to Reigate in the final miles, especially at the 11-mile point before running down past Reigate Heath. Also, the off road section, whilst not of the Downs was very pretty and like a Boulevard.
My favourite part of the course was the buzz in the sunshine at the start and running past pretty farms on the scenic ‘Lonesome Lane’ – I had purposely not run this part of the route before so it was new and exciting for me. My least favourite part was the killer hill, Horsehill, at mile 6. I ended up having to walk it.
The crowd support was phenomenal. I saw and heard so many people calling my name and cheering me on at various points on the course – and it really spurred me on especially towards the end. There were about 10,000 spectators in Priory Park.
The was the opportunity to get photographs from Sussex Sport Photography. As for the goody bag, it contained a decent bronze medal and a technical t-shirt. We were also entitled to free post-run massages and a yoga restore area.
At the end of the race, I didn’t use the luggage collection but my friend did and she collected her luggage quickly. We didn’t leave the race immediately after it was finished. Instead, we took advantage of the much-needed, free post-race messages and visited stalls in the food village so the crowds had cleared by the time we left.
Overall, I would absolutely recommend the Reigate Half. The atmosphere was super friendly with banter and encouraging words from fellow runners and spectators cheering along the whole route. The race itself wasn’t crowded; there were about 3500 runners, which helped to create a real buzz and friendly vibe. If I had to rate the organization and course out of 10, I’d give the organization a 9 as it was pretty seamless especially given that it was the inaugural race. The food and fitness festival with activities was a nice touch. I’d give the course an 8 for scenic countryside views for most of the race. I would definitely do it again- and hopefully I can do it within 2 hours.