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New Vitality Oxford Half Marathon route proves a great success

by Paul Hayward
Thursday 29th October 2015

Race report: Run247's OCR columnist Paul Hayward took a break from the obstacles to take part in the Vitality Oxford Half Marathon on Sunday 11th October 2015

2015 Vitality Oxford Half Marathon

When someone says to you “lets run in Oxford”; images of the University’s parks or running past the 'dreaming spires' are instantly conjured up. Thankfully this became a reality for 6,156 runners when the Vitality Oxford Half Marathon announced their decision to start the race in the City centre (HERE) from the previous races being held outside of Oxford and 11 October 2015 saw the start of something special.

The famous Oxford University Park played host to the Oxford Half’s race village, comprising a huge number of charity tents, food providers and the most efficient bag drop I have ever seen, with the race start (and finish) being housed in St Giles, parade just moments away from Inspector Morse’s local and the iconic Randolph Hotel. The route promised (and delivered) a tour of some of the prominent features of Oxford, including the Sheldonian Theatre, Lady Margaret Hall and the Bodleian Library.

2015 Vitality Oxford Half Marathon

It is easy to get caught up in the history of Oxford, but the decision to move the run away from the outskirts of the city to central Oxford cannot be underestimated. As I joined my fellow athletes in the start pen it felt strange to be lining up in such a prestigious part of the city and as the wait to be released started, we were safe in the knowledge that there would be no industrial estates, but instead scenic surroundings to enjoy for the next 13.1 miles.

The race left St Giles, after a quick skirmish past some of the University’s buildings, and proceeded to Summertown, the home of Raymond Blanc’s first ever restaurant, followed by Marston and then through the University Park, which although narrow was a fantastic idea and a chance to see all of the park, and the above mentioned buildings. The final mile trundled past Oxford’s famous old market, past the prestigious Blackwell’s bookshop and back to St Giles.

This race may just be the ticketIf if you are looking for a fast, flat half marathon. There was a distinct lack of hills, despite some small inclines, making a PB more than just a possibility as the Oxford Half provides a really fast course. The roads around and through Oxford had been closed, ensuring that traffic congestion, from runners, was minimal and you could run freely and happily. If you were concerned with the distance, then the addition of bands, Morris dancing and DJs ensured that the atmosphere remained vibrant at all times and distracted you from the heat (as the sun decided to come out) while the miles passed away.

2015 Vitality Oxford Half Marathon

The Oxford Half’s decision to move the race to the city proved popular, as the roads were often packed with members of the public cheering, shouting and some dancing as the race went past. The amount of people in the final mile was crazy and was akin to scenes from the London marathon. Despite closing off large parts of Oxford, a city famed for cycling, yet dependant on its tight roads, the race seemed to cause minimal disruption.

As I ran through the finish line into St Giles Parade the finish was crowded with people screaming and cheering. The sun beat down and as I stood by the finish line watching finishers, their smiles said it all, the decision to relocate this race had gone down a storm.

The Oxford Half was won by Steve Naylor in one hour ten minutes and twenty four seconds and Fabienne Amrhein in one hour fifteen minutes and fifty five seconds. (HERE)

2015 Vitality Oxford Half Marathon

More information on the Oxford Half and pre-entry to the 2016 race can be found here: oxfordhalf.co.uk

2015 Vitality Oxford Half Marathon


About The Author

Paul Hayward

I am 33 years old and spend the majority of my life within an office environment. Whilst I played football, I never really took an interest in sport let alone athletics. In 2011 I joined a gym as I was slightly concerned about my weight. However I was, like an awful lot of my colleagues, coasting and I considered spinning three times a week a workout.
This changed when I took up a circuits class and found myself entering Men’s Health Survival of the Fittest London in November 2011. I was assured by my friends that this was a good idea and would be a “challenge”.
I had never entered any form of competitive event before and training for this run changed me. I listened to my personal trainer, who assured me that if I quit drink I could be dangerous, and sorted out my diet, stopped drinking so much and focussed my training. I completed the race in just over an hour and I was instantly bitten by the racing bug, I loved the challenge the event offered. 
Nearly two years on I have completed a half marathon in 1hour 49 minutes, came 6th in the Rat Race Horseplay 5k event and usually come within the top 30% at Obstacle Course races. I am also a part time triathlete and I am lucky to find myself in a running club where we have a great coach and the focus is on members. If I am honest - I came to running through these events and I am not alone.
My aim through Run 247 is to promote, discuss and publicise Obstacle Course racing. It is becoming huge and over the coming months we will cover all of the major races and the new competitors entering the scene. 

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