Hackney Half Marathon 2017: a Spectators' guide

Make the most of the Hackney Half while cheering on your mates from the sidelines.

This weekend is the Hackney Half Marathon and if you live in East London but haven’t experienced this yet, it is essentially where tourists unintentionally extend their weekend holiday in the city unable to make it back to Liverpool st.  The trick is not to plan anything you need to take a bus or taxi for. Just let your mates know you’ll be in a specific location cheering them on from the sideline. As they slog their way through 13.1 miles of Sunday sweat you’ll be eagerly awaiting your next stop for brunch pancakes or a smoothly concocted flat white.

We've found that there are so many written tips and insights for the runners competing in the Hackney Half but the (arguably) most important people get overlook: the spectators, heck you're the ones who have to pull yourself out of bed on a Sunday to stand on the side of a road and lose your voice from cheering for strangers and you haven't been training for months to do it. You're the ones who stand around for an hour waiting to cheer on their co-worker for 15 seconds as they pass by with a heavy weeze and the inability to lift their head to nod or wave.  

We're reversing the roles, today is all about the spectator and that’s why we’ve created this top 6 list of cafes/ brunch-eries speckled around the race course so when you’re feeling faint and at a loss of energy you can step off the course for a well deserved espresso or a sneaky pre race meal. So without further adue…

The top 6 east London cafes for spectators during the Hackney Half Marathon


1. Palm 2

Kicking things off we've got Palm 2 a hidden gem for breakfast on the weekends with a very warm and inviting, natural decor. The food is honest with a home cooked feel and its been said they have the best Full English in East London, care to comment? 

Palm 2 is a large space with lots of seating area so its a safe bet during the Hackney Half when it gets busy in this neck of the woods. You can find them HERE, open from 8am on Sundays. 

Our new location which just opened this spring is bringing its brunch A-game. Situated on The Greenway in Queen Elizabeth Park this new venue at the base of the well known View Tube is supplied with locally roasted beans from The Roasting Shed (#5) and is a coffee and brunch haven removed from the chaos and commotion of the city. We've got a large garden in the back that is perfect for families and kids or those who need some fresh air on the weekends. 

The Common Greenway features regular weekend specials and will soon be opened late for drinks and cocktails with DJs in the garden Friday and Saturday. Find us HERE, open from 9am daily. Just a 10 minute walk from the start/finish of the Hackney Half, this is the ideal spot to relax after a morning of excitement. For the Hackney Half our chef has created a incredible Lamb & Feta Burger (pictured) and while I think of something clever to say about it, I'll let the picture do the talking. 

HER in Haggerston was especially helpful while writing this and contacted us quickly about some of the goodies they have in store for runners including what sounds like a top notch smoothy. What they didn't know was that we weren't focused on the runners at all, we were focused on you lot, the anti-runner, Sunday stroller, weekend relaxer who would take a bacon smoothy over a low-fat-dairy-free-easy-on-the-gluten kale smoothly any day of the week. 

What we can tell you is that HER does an exceptional house made cold brew concentrate with a very promising brunch selection. For their menu, think fresh and natural but not afraid to through in a bacon bap when the mood is right. Find them HERE, open from 9am on weekends. 

Our friendly new neighbours across the canal are another prime destination for those exploring Hackney Wick for the first time. Stour Space Cafe is a corner stone of the local community offering great dishes, delicious coffee and friendly, warm service.  

They are a non-for-profit community space which supports affordable studios, arts education and local campaigning. Sit out on their canal side deck facing Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park for a quick bite or a relaxing chat over coffee. They'll be open HERE on Sunday from 9am. 

5. Roasting Shed at Mick's Garage - Crate


Not far from the start/finish line Roasting shed shouldn't be left off the list, these bad boys roast a mean coffee, although we at The Common may be a bit bias they know how to put a smile on a coffee lovers face. Grab a quick coffee with them on your way to the race from Hackney Wick Overground, their flat white...well, its what you need. Open from 9am HERE


6. Coffee is my Cup of Tea

Spanish Breakfast? Yes please! They do seasonal dishes, one in particular that has becoming quite popular is Asparagus with Iberico pancetta. Not a fancy pants? Need a staple? they've got it: english breakfast, or a vegetarian option.

For those who need to recover via hair of the dog as they listen to their mates discuss their accomplishment of a life goal, meanwhile your only goal is staying awake while they talk about it, Coffee is my Cup of Tea will save the day.  They've got a small list of cocktails including Bloody Mary (pictured), Espresso Breakfast Martini, Mango, coconut and rum or the classic Negroni. Also local craft beers, like Five Points and Signature.
They'll be open from 10am HERE on Sunday! 

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Sean Errey