Record numbers complete Oxford Half Marathon

A record breaking number of people crossed the finish line of the Vitality Oxford Half Marathon last Sunday. Over ten thousand runners took part in the 13.1-mile-long race, in which runners and supporters, children and adults alike all enjoyed.

The course changed this year with the starting and finishing lines both on Broad Street, which was greatly welcomed by participants who enjoyed finishing in the scenic surroundings. The first runner to cross the line was Paul Whittaker, a 27-year-old, with a time of 1 hour, 7 minutes, and 15 seconds. The first female runner was Molly Browne, who finished within one hour, 21 minutes, 14 seconds, and is from Birmingham.

Vitality half marathons are run by Cancer Research UK and other locations include Reading, Brighton and Liverpool. Several charities were partners of the event, including Macmillan Cancer Support, Sobell House and Oxford United Community Trust. Participants ran for a variety of other causes, including the local hospice, Helen and Douglas House; a team also took part in memory of Oxford City managing director Colin Taylor.

Notable events included a proposal on the finish line and a fireman who ran in full fire fighter kit on behalf of the British Heart Foundation and the Fire Fighters Charity. Clowns, superheroes and onesies also featured.

The Oxford Student spoke to three students who took part. Valery Charachon, an Ancient and Modern History student from St John’s College, really enjoyed the race: “The Oxford Half Marathon this year was my first attempt at that event. Having run in different places before on similar distances, I was expecting the usual build-up, turnout and organization in general. It was, however, a very different experience overall, and one which I will not easily forget. Running in and around the city, and on roads which walk on nearly everyday, had quite the boosting effect. The last mile was especially gripping, taking you from Uni Parks to the Rad Cam and Broad Street, all of which I spend most of my time in. Despite leaving Oxford at the end of the year, I would be very tempted to go back just for this event.”

Rosemary Walmsley, who is currently studying Maths and Philosophy at Worcester College, commented: “There was a great atmosphere on Broad Street as several thousand runners (from super speedy types to more casual like me!) gathered at the start line… All the way round, supporters lined the route which really helped with motivation! Seeing all the different good causes people were running for was inspiring too… By mile 13 it was very tough, but, as one supporter’s banner said, ‘Pain is temporary, the pictures on facebook last forever’ (and the feeling of achievement lasts a good while too!)”

An anonymous student from New College recounted: “There was a fantastic atmosphere, with tons of runners raising money for fantastic causes and challenging themselves physically. It was also a fun way to break outside the geographical Oxford bubble and get a wider perspective of what the city’s like.”