Henry VIII (pictured above) was not the only fully gloved character at the Hampton Court Half Marathon on Sunday (15 March). The 2,757 finishers in 3:51:01 were supported by hundreds of glove wearing volunteers in a sign of the times as the coronavirus outbreak continued to impact on running events.
Last Sunday seems such a long time ago, now that official advice has changed so dramatically. However, the Hampton Court Half Marathon was well attended and there were only around 700 less finishers than last year. This was despite a generous offer by the organisers to reward any entrant who was unable to run with a mailed out T-shirt and medal in exchange for evidence of a 13.1 mile run completed anywhere before 31 May 2020.
Hampton Court's coronavirus precautions included starting the race in waves of no more than 500; additional hand sanitisers; pre-bagged goodies and T-shirts and no prize presentations at the finish to reduce contact. The organisers also pointed out that their event did not require any road closures or support from essential public services as all medical cover and event stewarding is provided independently.
Although the event has only recently been added to the calendar the historic location helps engender a unique atmosphere – even the course map is drawn on parchment (see below)! The beautiful River Thames towpath course is a winner with everyone from elite athletes at the front to fundraising runners of all ability levels throughout the field.
The first men to be greeted at Hampton Court by the imposing figure of Henry VIII were M45 Andrew McCarron (Queens Park Harriers,1:16:05 PB), Simon Courtney (Stadium Runners, 1:16:24) and James O'Shea (Serpentine RC, 1:17:24).
Hannah Pullen (Waverley Harriers, 1:23:36) led the women's race and was followed home by Rachel Owen (Clapham Chasers, 1:26:11 PB) and W40 Niki Densley (Camberley, 1:26:35 PB).
More than 100 runners beat 90 minutes on the fast, flat course and nearly 1,500 were inside two hours on chip timing.