The course changed a few years back to the current format (apart from a few tweaks). It really is very picturesque in parts with the majority of it being off road. Don't be fooled though, as an average runner which i am, this course will test your endurance with a lot of hills. This is definitely not a PB course but good fun all the same.
Posted on 16.07.17
This was a a really nice event with beuitful views. The route takes you out on one big loop aross rolling fields and through a village and back again. Will be signing up for 2017.
Posted on 15.07.17
So back to the half that i love the most! it's safe to say for me that all the events i try and do throughout the year, these really are only a filler for this race. It's strange, there is something about this race that i fell in love with from day one. I think a big part of it is to do with the time of year it's on. It seems to catch Autumn at its absolute alluring best, with the few leaves that remain on the trees all the spectrums of red, yellows and browns that you can imagine. The course is also so peaceful (apart from a few heavy breathers along the way), it gives you the time whilst plodding the miles to appreciate the simple things in life such us picking up the well-worn running shoes and hitting going for a run.
I arrive at race HQ with Martin, one of my oldest friends to the usual hustle and bustle of a typical race start. We collect our numbers and safety pins and mingle around until the race announcer and warmup act arrive on the club house balcony. We go through the motions of the warmup and announcements and then make our through to Higginson park where we join an orderly queue where we chat with other likeminded folk about the race ahead and specifically our London marathon experiences. Before too long we are starting the count down from ten, Guy Fawkes lights the rocket, whoosh.......bang and we're off!
The race takes you out of the park and along the high street where you're greeted by a few spectators clapping and cheering before you chuck a left then a right to pass the old start at Sir William Borlase's Grammar School (to be honest i preferred the start here), and we start the next 5 odd miles climbing. The climb to start with is steady and i think not to bad if you don't go off like a nutter. Historically this is where i lose Martin as we both settle in to our natural race pace. We finish off chatting, we both go quite and he moves off.
Now we're out in to the countryside. With the cold crisp November air cursing through my lungs and the bright blue skies, the old senses of just how beautiful this run is starts to awaken inside me. I keep reminding myself to appreciate it as it only happens once a year (much like Christmas!). We arrive at the first really hard hill. It's particularly hard as it is steep and aggressive and has kind of a double layer to it. This is normally where the race separates the serious and not so serious runners by ruthlessly dispatching the not so serious of them in to walking pace. If they didn't appreciate what Marlow Half is about before the race, they certainly do now! Thankfully i move on without too much problem to settle in to the flatter part of the race.
Around 6 miles we get ushered in to a sharp right by a friendly marshal making us pass a house on my right which still has a family of pumpkins sitting on the house wall (very seasonal). I know what's coming! We start our decent. I see a sign indicating the drop in elevation is 1.5% and i can't help thinking how lucky i am the course is not in reverse and i don't have to climb this one! People fly past me as i am more concerned in shortening my stride to maintain balance. After all, wet leaves are slippery. This is the moment i think the course is at its most picturesque with rolling hills that seem to stretch for miles and grazing sheep in the cold winters sun. Stunning. Again i remind myself to take it in. The course cuts left along a new part of the course and we plod on towards the first monster hill.
The hill in question is at the 9-mile mark i believe. Over the years i have made the choice to not even waste my energy in trying to run this. The best thing to do is slow down in to a brisk walk with my head down with my arms pumping and carry on and get up it for what, even know I’m walking, feels like an eternity. Looking around, long since the more harden runners have passed and people with the same mentality as me are just saving their legs on this are power walking up the hill too. The horizon eventually levels out and we move on in to the latter part of the race.
We're now running through lots of little villages and eventually leading in to a woodland area. I know from experience the last hill will soon be upon us. We come to an another aggressive decent, but like the old saying goes "what goes up, must come down", but in this incidence, in reverse! From memory we are about 11 miles in and from this point i know we're pretty much downhill from this point on. I have a burst at running up this hill but eventually gravity sucks me back in to a gentle power walk. I'm over the top! Passing a water station on my left where local kids are handing out jelly sweets. I never take them but plenty of runners grab a handful as they pass, desperate for a sugar hit to get them around that last mile and a half.
Finally, we join the road leading all the way back in to Marlow. I look at my watch and see my pace. I open up my legs and push myself to ensure i make it under the two-hour mark. We come off the main road and round in to a residential area of Marlow where it seems every alarm be it house or car has decided this was the morning the world would hear its cry. I plough on, still pushing myself until i turn the corner in to the race HQ for the last sprint. I cross the finishing line under two hours and work my way through the finish line collecting my latest MHM medal.
Another brilliant year from the Marlow striders and the event they put on! All i can think at this point is see you the first Sunday in November 2017, Marlow!
Posted on 15.07.17