A Weird and Wonderful Half

Oxford Half 2016

by Jo Sharples

The 2016 Vitality Oxford half marathon was to be my first 13.1 this year, having raced nearly every other distance. It is also my second time at this event, but my first time running this course as they’d revised the course last year. My previous experience in 2014 had the race starting in the Kassam Stadium and also included the Iffley Road running track where Sir Roger Bannister ran his famous sub-4min mile. I had loved everything about that race, so this year’s had a lot to live up to.

The day started with an early but fairly easy drive and park/ride bus to the “race village” which was situated in central Oxford. Once I arrived it was soon time to start my meticulous pre-race routine. I was thinking about what time I’d like… I remembered what I’d felt like running in 2014 and started to get nervous. That year I’d come off a summer of not being able to run much and so just wanted to enjoy myself and ended up running a 7min PB (1hr34min). Today I felt like in the last few weeks I had just started to get back to pre-marathon fitness, but I still wasn’t sure what I could achieve over this distance…? I’d love to run a sub 1.30 one day but I knew today wasn’t that day. So with my warm up finished I dropped my bag and then that was when normality stopped….

  1. I walked past Chico (yes as in “Its Chico time”) on the way to the start taking selfies. Needless to say I didn’t ask for one.
  2. The starting pens are alphabetical, a-z, so you have a good 10min walk from the race village to a-c pens.
  3. I did a last minute shoe tighten 10s before the race start, which I immediately regretted.
  4. I got to 5M on a decent pace and then the guy next to me told me I was doing well and was half way- idiot!
  5. I stopped feeling my feet at mile 7, and contemplated doing a Laura and stopping to redo my laces. But I kept going in the worry that I’d stop and not be able to start again.
  6. Mile 8 I got overtaken by a gorilla (or maybe a man dressed as a gorilla, I was quite tired at this point!) and understandably my morale dropped.
  7. I had a new lease of life at mile 10, and then wished the race stopped at 11.1 miles
  8. I finished in 1.32.48, only 27s off my PB. I was happy (or maybe content is a better adjective) but frustrated to be agonisingly close to a PB.
  9. After I’d finished I got stopped by Chico to say well done – and all I wanted to do was ask him what he was doing here.
  10. It then took another hour to get out of Oxford to the park and ride.

Overall, I would do the race again. The new course was enjoyable and well organised as a whole, with a decent goody bag including medal/t-shirt. There was only three annoying aspects. One being the bags they had provided weren’t very strong and split very easily, secondly the park/ride was a long walk from the race village; not what you want after finishing a half marathon, and finally, there was Chico!