A fantastic half marathon through the City of Oxford and surrounding countryside on a traffic-free course. A superb route taking in the iconic Oxfordshire scenery, the wonderful landmarks and the 'dreaming spires' of this beautiful City, against the the spectacular backdrop of the River Thames. One of the Virgin Sport Festival events.
Reliably good, scenic and fast Half. The weather this time was something completely special and unique, so let's take it away from the equation. Generally, I’m happy how the race was organised. With about 7000 participants running, Virgin Sports did a good job keeping the race safe and providing water & electrolytes on the course. The course was quite flat, maybe a bit too much packed into the same streets, with dual-way running. I think my only concern is, since the race village was in the park and it was raining cats & dogs, the entire territory around tents was wet and muddy. Even with gravel covered pathways, it was barely possible to get in or out without collecting the mud on your feet. Thinking out loud, some recycled plastic/rubber mats could to the job, if properly placed on the pathways… But I get it, maybe it was hard to predict & plan such things in advance. Same as with the transportation: when you put thousands of people into a small historical city, you'd obviously expect some heavy traffic & delays.
Great run, course could be better?. First off, the weather REALLY affected the run this year. It was terribly wet, and had been wet for a while before the run, so at some points water lay ankle-deep across the road. I would have liked to have seen the grass protected at University Parks, with those underfoot grids you see used. There was a wait at the start if you were right at the back, but with 12k runners, that’s acceptable. The first few miles wind around the town but then you have the first of two out-and-back drags, up to Summertown and back. Then there’s another long drag out to the village of Marston, which made for quite boring running. Luckily, after about mile 9/10 you head back into town to finish up. The t shirt and medal were great, decent goody bag too, and despite the awful wet, people were so upbeat, both runners and supporters. This race would score five stars if only the course was better! Those out and back drags are there to make up distance and they’re not fun to run. I know councils really affect road closures and in oxford of course you have colleges too but PLEASE, could this race change to have a more imaginative and central route? Even just knocking out the Marston drag would be great.