Race Recce

Runner's World (UK) - - Contents -

The Mar­low Half Marathon

Joint race di­rec­tor Bar­bro Julin guides you on a chal­leng­ing course around the stun­ning Chiltern Hills in Buck­ing­hamshire

START Run­ners gather in Hig­gin­son Park, which lies close to Mar­low Bridge (A), the Grade 1-listed sus­pen­sion bridge that crosses the Thames. Run­ners also pass the statue of Sir Steve Red­grave. The five-time Olympic gold medal­list was born in the town.

MILE 1 Af­ter 500m you start to climb as you head out of town. Look out for plaques com­mem­o­rat­ing poet TS Eliot and writer Mary Shel­ley, au­thor of Franken­stein, who both lived here. You’ll also pass The Coach, the gas­tropub run by TV chef Tom Ker­ridge.

MILE 2 There’s a ‘big dip­per’ to tackle, which con­sists of a 25m de­scent fol­lowed im­me­di­ately by a 40m as­cent af­ter you pass an­other lit­er­ary land­mark, the cot­tage Three Men in a Boat au­thor Jerome K Jerome once lived in.

MILE 3 You con­tinue on a steady climb into the Chilterns Hills, the 74km-long pro­tected area of chalk up­lands. Look out for red kites (B), which were rein­tro­duced into the area al­most 30 years ago.

MILE 5 Close to the high­est point on the course is St Katharine’s Par­moor, a hand­some manor house with a rich his­tory. Dur­ing the 1940s, ex­iled Al­ba­nian monarch King Zog and his fam­ily lived here.

MILE 6 En­joy the long de­scent into Ham­ble­den Val­ley be­fore an­other slog up to the ham­let of Rock­well End. For fans of crime drama Mid­somer Mur­ders, this area will ap­pear fa­mil­iar, as it’s of­ten used in sto­ry­lines.

MILE 10 Just be­fore a flat sec­tion along Mar­low Com­mon, you take the road through Pulling­shill Wood. You can still see the craters that were dug by troops prac­tis­ing trench war­fare here dur­ing the First World War.

FIN­ISH Watch out for slip­pery au­tumn leaves on the fast de­scent back into Mar­low be­fore pick­ing up your fin­isher’s longsleeve top when you cross the line. Re­fresh­ments are served at the Mar­low Strid­ers club­house.

IN­SIDE STORY Bar­bro Julin says: ‘Back in 2014, when Blanche Mor­ris­sey and I took over the or­gan­i­sa­tion of the race for our club, Mar­low Strid­ers, en­tries were de­clin­ing. So we launched a big mar­ket­ing drive and got num­bers up to over 800 for its 28th out­ing, last year. We also changed the route so it now ends on home turf, at the Mar­low Strid­ers club­house – 500m from the start op­po­site the Thames – rather than the school we for­merly used. I have sleep­less nights be­fore race day about get­ting the run­ners safely over the busy Hen­ley Road, but we have a good traf­fic-man­age­ment plan. Last year the course was shrouded in mist un­til the run­ners be­gan to climb, which was a con­cern, but it didn’t cause any ma­jor is­sues in the end. We’ve also in­tro­duced a sev­en­miler on the same day, which is prov­ing pop­u­lar. The half is fairly tough, but gives ev­ery­one a taste of the Chilterns, which of­fer beau­ti­ful views once you’ve climbed up them.’

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