Given the huge number of club runners who ran the Amsterdam Marathon and Half Marathon, this does somewhat feel like the ‘mini-marathon’ of the weekend. Just two 26.2 RRC members towed the start line of the Abingdon Marathon this Sunday – Lawrence Bromley and Alastair McGeoch-Williams – both ably supported by Aviva, the better half of Alastair.
In comparison to the aeronautical trials and tribulations the Amsterdam bound Surbiton Diaspora faced, the journey from Surbiton to Abingdon was rather uneventful, save for this writer feeling a little sleepy behind the wheel at 6am of a VW-Audi vehicle that may possibly throw out more pollution than the commercial jet the Amsterdam travellers had taken the previous day.
Unlike in Amsterdam, parking in Abingdon was free and plentiful, mostly located at the nearby college. The race HQ was just a short walk from the car to Tilsley Park, which made for a pleasant place to get changed and hide away in the warm. Once changed and prepped, a pre-race photoshoot followed and then we took to the newly refurbished athletics track for a quick warmup. It was a pleasant experience to run on a track that didn’t resemble concrete, as our local track sadly has come to do so.
The race kicked off bang on time at 9am, on a pathway just off the track itself and the relatively small field of 720+ runners went off without a hitch. Unsurprisingly for such a small race, there were a huge number of club runners present and the opening stages were awash with club vests from across the UK. One runner who certainly stood out was Headington Road Runners’ Jessica Bruce who was stood on the start line with her 6 month old baby in a running buggy. Questioning her sanity, she stated that “oh it’s ok, it’s only my wrists that this will hurt”. More on Jessica later…
The early stages were predominantly on small, local roads which were either partially or fully closed. After four or so miles the race took the runners through the centre of Abingdon itself, through alleyways and market squares with a number of spectators to cheer everyone on. After that the race took everyone out of Abingdon and on to more more residential roads and through a number of scenic villages in the surrounding areas. The support was relatively sparse but where there were spectators, there was never a shortage of enthusiasm, jelly babies or oranges. The course also took the runners through and around a nearby business park which wasn’t exactly scenic but did allow for some aggressive racing without fear of cars or bunched up runners.
The race eventually wound its way back to Abingdon and the final 300m was on the Tilsley Park race track, with a modest goody bag awaiting the 713 finishers.
A special mention should be made to the vast array of enthusiastic and dedicated marshals who made the whole day possible.
Results wise, first male was Darryl Hards from Worthing & District Harriers in a time of 2:30:46 and first female was Kate Towerton from Winchester & District AC in a time of 2:53:47. Full results can be found online.
The previously mentioned Jessica Bruce, with baby and buggy in tow made it round in a new official world record time of 3:17:52 – a fantastic achievement which you can read all about on the BBC News website.
26.2 RRC results (chip time) were as follows…
Lawrence Bromley – 3:19:06 (PB)
Alastair McGeoch-Williams – 3:19:09 (bad day at the office)