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Race Report: Richmond Marathon Run-Fest

Looking for a marathon in London, easy to enter and with a great course along the Thames? The Richmond Marathon is here for you. Discover what we learned from our experience.
richmond runfest
Image @richmondrunfest

The Richmond Marathon Run-Fest by GoFoundMe is part of the Richmond RUN-FEST an institution in the South West London running community. The marathon has now arrived at its 11th edition in 2023 and it is the perfect race for first-time runners - and an easy consolation prize for all the ones not selected for the London Marathon. You don't need a qualifying time and you can sign up easily. Last year, I grabbed my last-minute entry to join the start line at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.

Distance: Marathon

Where: London, UK

When: 10/09/2023

Cost: From £54

How to Enter: Click here to register on the RUN-FEST website.

The Event

The Richmond Marathon is part of a weekend-long fest together held by RUN-FEST together with a 10k and a half marathon. In 2022, the fest attracted 2,000 runners of which more than 600 competed in the marathon. The event is advertised as a great experience for beginners and as "Flat as a Pancake". The medal is the other strong selling point for the race: a bottle opener doe medal. Definitely, something unique

The atmosphere is friendly approaching the starting line at the beautiful Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Everyone seems to be there to enjoy their run with a smile.

The Course

The course starts at the Royal Botanical Gardens, Kew and develops along the Thames going South to the Hampton Court Palace, home of Henry VIII. It is almost an out-and-back since a lot of the sections are the same both ways. The finish line is at Old Deer Park, a few kilometers south of where it starts.

The first 6 kilometers are inside the gardens with views of the Kew Gardens and the Pagoda, which makes you forget about running for a good reason. After exiting the park, the course goes south following the Thames path for 18 kilometers where you run on mixed terrain, both gravel and pavement. Hampton Court Palace is just after the mid-point of the race and it is one of the highlights of this course. The way back is pretty much like the way out, except for some sections that follow an inner road and are not right on the Thames.

The course is not marked along the way and you rely on other runners to stay on the right track - I saw a few people missing a turn. The course is not fenced and roads are not closed as it is not a huge event, only the first section inside the Gardens is fenced. This caused a lot of problems later in the morning when more people are out on the Thames path for their Sunday stroll and you have to pass them to keep up with your pace. Along the course, you have 9 water stations and pacers available, from 3 hours up to 5 hours and 30 minutes.

My Race

richmond marathon race report

Last year's edition was moved to the second weekend of October due to some flooding along the course causing some complaints among participants as it was the weekend after the London Marathon. It was a cold Sunday morning when I approached the starting line. I felt everyone was freezing a bit in their t-shirts at 7 am in the morning after the bag drop-offs - not just the Italian writing here.

Luckily we did not wait long to get started on our runs, everything was well-organized with pacers available to help everyone get their time. After 6 kilometers inside the gardens, the pack started to spread out on the path along the Thames. It was still early morning so not many people were on the path, allowing me to run without any worries and I kept a steady pace slightly ahead of my target goal. While I ran along the Thames I was feeling very good, helped by the warmer - but not too warm - temperature and by running with a few guys. This went on till Hampton Court Palace at kilometer 24 when I started to feel the fatigue after a long straight out and back to arrive at the Palace. I opened the first gel and kept going.

After this point, I knew I was on the way back to Old Deer Park which was awesome news for my mind. The bad news was that the path along the Thames was crowded with people having their morning coffee on a sunny Sunday. I had to dribble loads of walkers, mums with strollers, and bikers. This meant a lot of starts and stops - the last thing you want during a marathon.

The last kilometers felt endless. We passed from 4 degrees at the starting line to 20 approaching the finishing line and I was feeling it. Despite this, I was able to push through the last stint improving my pace and hitting the finish line with some energy left.

Nutrition: 2 SIS Gels

Final Scorecard

Course ⭐⭐⭐

The course is along the Thames or in a park for its entirety, with few attractions to admire as you go through. The amount of external people on the path makes it hard to run later in the day.

Logistics ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Atmosphere ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Medal & Tee ⭐⭐


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