Following the winter storms that marked the start of spring there has been an outbreak of fine half marathons across the south of England this weekend. There are examples of the 21.0975 kilometres (13 miles 192.5 yards) discipline on roads and trails and you can even meander beside the River Thames while enjoying your favourite, if rather oddball, distance.
Of course, there is a perfectly rational explanation for the peculiar measurement. It is half of a marathon, which is also an odd distance to run! But it is the perfect way to prepare for the full event, so lets take a look at what's on offer through the prism of runABC South
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Thames Meander Marathon and Half Marathon is based at YMCA Hawker Centre, Kingston. The half heads in the opposite direction to the full and meanders along the Thames Path to Kew Gardens, turns back towards Canbury Gardens for a final turn just past the Boaters Inn.
Thames Meander is on Saturday (10 March) and is up against the Maverick Original Hampshire Trail Half Marathon from the superb Avon Tyrell Activity Centre, Bransgore. The challenging route takes competitors into the New Forest National Park for a spectacular tour.
On Sunday there is an impressive list of at least six top quality half marathons to select from. There are traditional road events at Dartford and Lydd in Kent; Harpenden, Hertfordshire; Woking, Surrey; Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire and Bideford, Devon.
We also like the sound of The Big Cheese, promoted by (who else?) Cheddar Running Club in Somerset. This is another superb trail running event over approximately 15 miles – so half marathon plus. It is not challenging – it is tough! There are over 2,000 feet of ascent and this classifies the event as a Category B fell race. Race HQ is Fairlands Middle School, Cheddar and the race is part of the Somerset series.
So if half a marathon is your distance, either as marathon preparation or an event in its own right, you are spoilt for choice this weekend. Will you meander beside the Thames, tackle the Big Cheese or go in search of a PB at one of the flatter, faster road events?
Image courtesy Surrey Half Marathon/aat events