top of page

Race Report: Hackney Half

Discover everything you need to know about the famous East London Hackney Half Marathon from our experience: how is the course, how many participants, if the medal is cool and much more.

The Hackney Half is one of the most participated half marathons in the world with nearly 20,000 athletes at the start every year which makes it THE running event for East Londoners. If you live in the area and want to be considered a local, you must run the Hackney Half at least once. I lived in East London, so I had to do it.

Distance: Half Marathon

Where: London, UK

When: Third weekend of May

Cost: £52

How to Enter: Click here to purchase your ticket via Let's Do This

The Event

The race is currently organized by the LimeLight Sports Club and is part of Hackney Moves, a weekend-long festival dedicated to running. The festival takes place at Hackney Downs, surrounded by green areas and next to the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, built for the London Olympics in 2012. I could feel the festival atmosphere when I collected my bib the Saturday before the race. Major brands related to running were there with dedicated booths or hosting gym classes from the main stage. Hackney Moves consisted of the races: a 5k on Saturday and the Half Marathon on Sunday.

hackney half homerton road
The runners at Homerton Road

The Course

The race is a loop starting and ending at Hackney Marshes and going through the hip and upcoming Borough of Hackney. The course touches these main areas, in this order: Hackney Marshes, Hackney Downs, Dalston, Hackney Central, Haggerston, London Fields, Victoria Park, and Hackney Wick, before heading back to the Marshes. There are no special attractions that you can admire along the route but, on the other hand, all the roads are special if you live in the area: your favorite bakery, your local legend segment on Strava, or your local grocery store.

hackney half 2023 race course
Hackney Half 2023 Race Course

The course elevation is neglectable with only small slopes here and there which summed up to 68 meters in total. All the roads are closed and runners can go out safely and fast without worrying about anything else. Along the course, there are 5 water stations offering loads of water and other refreshing options as the temperatures can get high later in the morning. The organization also provides pacers for all levels of runners which are very helpful if you are targeting a specific finishing time - getting your PB is way easier with a pacer. Due to the high number of participants, the runners are allocated in 15-minute waves starting from 9 am based on their expected finishing time, so if you are targeting a relatively slow pace you might start your race late in the morning.

My Race

hackney half race report

Summer had an early start in London and the race was very warm from the start. The speaker reminded us about the importance of hydration and the high presence of pollen in the air. The latter was very bad news for me and my hay fever that was killing me right from the start. On the brighter side, I was allocated to the 2nd wave which allowed me to beat the heat to some extent.

The first kilometers were an obstacle race to find my space in the crowded pack of runners in my wave. I had to take a quick toilet break at the first bush because we waited around 30 minutes in the pit before the start which was not optimal. I was well above my targeted pace for the race for the first 5 kilometers, then I reminded myself to take it easy and keep fresh energy for the second half of the race. I kept my pace between 4:10 and 4:25 per kilometer till the end without any slowdowns despite the 25 degrees and full sun - very uncommon but always welcome in London.

The section I enjoyed the most was between Hackney Central to Victoria Park, from kilometers 5 to 10, not just because this is the area where I live and where I run almost every day but for the crowds cheering everyone. This made the atmosphere incredible and pushed me through the race despite struggling with hydration. Cheering at the Hackney Half is definitely big.

Nutrition: None

Final Scorecard

Course ⭐⭐⭐

The course is well-maintained and professionally arranged. The scenery is not attractive and some sections can be a bit slow because of the many turns.

Logistics ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Atmosphere ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Medal & Tee ⭐⭐


bottom of page