30 Aug

Make Mine A Half This September

Bedford Half Marathon medal

According to the 1971 classic soul hit by Earth, Wind and Fire called September, there never was a cloudy day in the month that marks the beginning of meteorological autumn. After a rather changeable August, this upbeat message gives hope to all runners as the season for half marathons begins to gather pace.

This weekend there are 10 half marathons to choose from in the south. The half has become the second most popular race distance in Britain, after the ubiquitous 10k, and part of its pull could be that it has the magic word marathon in the title. This certainly helps to extract funds from sponsors for charity activities and perhaps sets it aside from events that rely on purely numerical identification of their distance.
Priory Park, Bedford is the place to be on Saturday (2 September) for the Bedford Half Marathon. This is a brand new event with Mini Miles for the kids and a post-race picnic party in the park. The organisers claim that, with less than 10m rise and fall, it is one of the flattest courses in UK and participants will enjoy running alongside River Great Ouse and around Priory Lake.
Another large field is expected at Northampton Half Marathon on Sunday (3 September), back for its fourth year and incorporating the Northamptonshire Championships and the British Masters Championships. The town and country route starts outside The Guildhall, follows River Nene for a stretch and finishes on the front lawn of historic Delapre Abbey.
Slightly more established is Maidenhead Half Marathon. Sunday's race will be the seventh edition of this popular race with definite PB potential held on closed roads around urban Maidenhead and scenic Cookham village. One unusual touch is that runners in the inaugural 2011 race retain their race number for the duration of the event and anyone who has achieved five consecutive runs wears a special gold number to indicate their achievement.     
Full details of all events are available in runABC South's race listings in association with Sports Tours International.
Image courtesy Bedford Half Marathon