Not often I get to take part in a new London race these days. But boy when I do, I get excited. Especially when it’s in a part of London I’ve never actually been.
I’m not going to lie, I actually felt a bit nervous about this one. I’ve passed Alexandra Palace a few times and noticed that it’s quite high. I also know a few people who do the parkrun there and I’ve heard consistent warnings of steep inclines. Greenwich, as you’re probably aware is my choice for the toughest 10km in London, and I actually like that, so I have no idea what made my so nervous about this one. Probably just the uncertainty.
Alexandra Palace is the newest location in the ever-growing RunThrough dominion of events. A three lap loop taking runners all the way to the highest road that runs right by the main building. The route, as you’ve probably guessed, is a killer. Unlike Greenwich, where you start at the top and have at least 2km of flats and declines to enjoy before the massive hill, Alexandra Palace starts with what seems like about 2km ascent. Sure, there are flats and a little decline in there as well, but ultimately, it’s one big slog to the top.
After that it all becomes a lot easier, with the last part of the loop made up with a couple of long flats and a frankly beautiful long descent. When you reach the flat at the top you’re also treated to one hell of a view across London (you probably know that already though).
As with any lapped race, the subsequent repetitions can be tough, but when you know you’ve got a mega hill coming up two more times, it’s pretty damn daunting. It’s basically the opposite of Greenwich, if you’ve done that, where the hard bit comes right at the end of each lap. The beauty being that once you’ve done the hill three times at Alexandra Palace, you can pretty much just coast along for the last 1.5km.
Well, that’s what I thought. Unfortunately the finish is actually an extra few hundred meters after the start line, up and down another hill. Which basically makes your heart drop as you come around and realise it.
Alright, I’m moaning a bit for effect, but in all honesty, I loved it. When you live and race in London, the novelty of difficult hills is a rarity. Greenwich may well be my choice for the toughest 10km race in London, but it’s also one of my favourite. Alexandra Palace is similar in difficulty and you get the same sort of buzz at the end that you’ve done something pretty impressive (and painful). It’s probably not as picturesque a park as Greenwich, but it’s just as iconic. It also means there’s probably a whole new audience of North London runners joining the RunThrough crew.
Oh yeah, beautiful medal as well. As always.
For information on future RunThrough events, including the Alexandra Palace 10k, head over to the website here.