"Make mine a half". Which could well be the catchphrase for this weekend's fixtures in the south as the 13.1 mile race takes centre stage in the build-up towards the spring marathon season. We take a look at five excellent examples of the increasingly popular half marathon as listed in our runABC South race calendar.
On Saturday (17 February) Dorney Lake Winter Half Marathon is the longest race in a card that also includes 15km, 10km and 5km options. Promoters F3 Events, established in 2006, are behind the event taking place at the London Olympic rowing venue near Windsor – believed to make this the flattest half marathon course in the UK.
Original Hampton Court Half Marathon is the grand title of a right royal road race along Barge Walk beside the Thames and past Hampton Court Palace, where King Henry VIII will cheer the 4,000 runners on their way. Pacers will keep you on target for a PB and all finishers receive a superb medal and a 'Top Tech Tee'. This race starts at 8:30am on Sunday morning.
Just a few miles away the Richmond Half Marathon starts at 9am in spacious Old Deer Park. The majority of the flat, two-lap course is beside the River Thames and a well stocked goody bag will include water, juice, fruit and a hard earned chocolate bar!
Tunbridge Wells Half Marathon is organised by the club that was formed, like so many others, by a group of runners who met to train for the inaugural London Marathon in 1981. TWH have now hosted the half marathon for over 30 years and have got the organisation nailed. Based at Tunbridge Wells Sports Centre this is not a race for the feint-hearted as the scenic route includes the 300 foot ascent of Spring Hill at Fordcombe. This race boasts a useful long-sleeved technical top and has raised over £150,000 for good causes in the past five years.
Wokingham Half Marathon is another traditional club race with 2,500 entries received. The one lap route through Berkshire lanes starts and finishes at Cantley Park on Twyford Road at 10am. Free event massage is offered to all participants. This year's race hosts the Berkshire County AA Championships and there are £500 bonus awards for new course records that stand at 1:03:14 (men) and 1:11:09 (women).
Image courtesy Original Hampton Court Half Marathon