Bagging a good half marathon time is something every runner has on their To Do list. Its one of the classic benchmarks to test yourself against. 13.1 miles. Long enough to be a true test of fitness, pacing, form and mental strength, but short enough to be within reach of anyone willing to train a few days a week. Unlike training for a full marathon, preparing for a ‘cheeky half’ doesn’t demand the long runs that eat into your weekend.
Half marathon races come in all shapes and sizes, but here we’ve swung the spotlight on the fast ones. The pan flat course profiles sought out by pb hunters everywhere.
We’ve purposefully included a variety of races from small, locally organised half marathons like the River Thames Half to the full-on festivals like Richmond and Reigate.
Stop watches at the ready. Good luck.
Ealing Half Marathon
One of only three fully closed road half marathons in London and voted the UK’s best half marathon at the 2015 Running Awards. Not entirely flat, but what it lacks in pb potential it more than makes up for in atmosphere, with over 20,000 spectators turning out to cheer on the 4,000 runners. Entry in advance £36.
Oxford Half Marathon (full)
The Oxford Half Marathon has a new route for 2015. The course now takes runners past many of the city’s best-known sites including the Bodleian Library and Radcliffe Camera. Part of the well publicised Vitality Run Series, it’s likely to hit its limit of 8,000 runners soon. Entry £40.
Good PB potential. A flat, fast and largely traffic free course. Starting and finishing in the town centre, the two-lap course is mainly on road with a stretch along the River Thames. A mid-sized event with 1,600 runners taking part last year. Entry £26.
Run Reigate Half Marathon
A new race on the calendar, first run in 2014. This year, organisers are expecting over 6,000 runners to take on the 13.1 miles on closed roads. The course is largely flat, but with a kick at the end. For spectators, the early start on a Sunday will be made more appealing by the promise of an excellent breakfast from a local celebrity chef - and a Fitness Village full of children’s activities.
The most important thing is to find a form of exercise you enjoy... then the physical and mental health benefits will follow.Grace Hurry
River Thames Half
Starting and finishing at Walton-on-Thames, the scenic course follows the riverside towpath to Hampton Court Palace. Judging by the feedback from last year, many ran pb’s, including all 10 of the first 10 women. Entry £29.
Richmond Running Festival
Public entries are now closed, but there are still places available through charities. The race starts in Kew Gardens before heading out onto the Thames towpath down to Teddington Lock. Its flat but there may be some bunching in the first few miles that will effect faster runners. As the name suggests, this event is more than just a race. There’s a live music stage, a beer garden and Nike Kids Races in the afternoon.
Find more races and events near you at findarace.com.