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.’