My second sporting event of the weekend was a very different sort of event, after watching what was probably the best match of the 6 Nations tournament so far at the Millennium in Cardiff.  I had a commitment at Allianz Park in North London.

First place!
First place!

The usual reason for me to head to the stadium is to watch Saracens play, but this was altogether different.  A unique event was being held – the North London Half Marathon – clearly a 13.1 miles event isn’t unique. However this one was, the 1st such event to involve running through Wembley Stadium.

Second place!
Second place!

As I was driving from Bristol that meant an early start, I shocked myself by being the 1st person arriving to eat breakfast at 7:30, totally uncharted territory!  But, needs must – I was on the road by 8:15.


The Journey was a smooth one – most people were clearly still in bed!  I arrived at Allianz Park at 10:25.


Mo Farah was the official race ambassador as well as the race starter and he’d started the event at 9:30.


I met up with my Sanlam PW friends Ali Barwell and Sharneen Gadd-Claxton and we set about trying to spot Team Sanlam as well as a team of Saracens fans.


Both Sanlam PW and Allianz were involved in both the race and sponsoring the day, through providing hydration in the case of Sanlam PW and by sponsoring a Company Team Challenge in the case of Allianz.


The relationship Saracens have with their sponsors encourages wider participation, this event was wonderful.  People of all shapes and sizes and capabilities took part, many raising large sums of money for great causes.


I took a fair few photos – and am sharing a few here, what is plain to see is the determination on the faces of those taking part.

Mo Farah encouraging from the sidelines
Mo Farah encouraging from the sidelines

I was positioned on the finish line and was amazed by how many people ran over the line at speed have just completed 13 miles!  It was hugely inspiring!

Team Allianz maybe?

Hugh Vyvyan was running for Team Sanlam, in spite of wearing a pair of shoes that looked about 20 years old he finished side by side with Paul Gustard in 1:41 – Andrew Lewis of Sanlam PW wasn’t far behind.

Hugh Vyvyan and Paul Gustard (Excuse the head!)
Hugh Vyvyan and Paul Gustard (Excuse the head!)

It was great to see 2 Essex cricketers – Tom Westley completed the run, looking as fresh as a daisy at the end.  Greg Smith was on the sidelines watching his lovely new wife Debbie running, she looked wonderful after the long haul, and explained that she’d run 10 miles last weekend, clearly a very fit lady!

Team Sanlam
Team Sanlam

Both men are hot to trot for Essex CC this season, Tom has been away in Sri Lanka, I was pleased to hear he’d had some good bowling practice as well as hitting plenty of runs.  He has to be a future England player.

Tom Westley looking fresh after 13.1 miles
Tom Westley looking fresh after 13.1 miles

Greg had spent his time over the winter in South Africa playing cricket and marrying Debbie in what looked like a dream wedding.  Meeting the 2 made cricket feel even nearer!

Greg Smith waiting for Debbie who ran a great time!
Greg Smith waiting for Debbie who ran a great time!

There were still people finishing when I left 3.5 hours after the start, showing that the event was open to all.  Everyone who made the effort is to be congratulated, it’s no mean feat.

Neil, Alison and Steve 3 of 4 amazing people!

One set of people in particular a group of my Saracens friends – Steve, Alison, Neil and Penny – they took up the challenge a few months ago to run for the wonderful Saracens Sports Foundation and to date with Gift added in they’re just short of £4000!  they need just over £75 to hit that amazing figure!


It was wonderful to see Allianz Park being used for such an event, it really is a stadium in the heart of the community.  No facts and figures fro this event – it wasn’t that kind of thing.  Oh but I did have a cuppa and 10 mini (I promise) donuts for £5 – A healthy lunch!

My drive home was on the A406 – surprisingly easy and chilled.  Song of the journey? Ed Sheeran – Afire Love – A truly beautiful song!

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