Occasionally Liverpool Running Tours will also go ‘On Tour’! In this case, down to the beautiful city of Oxford and the Virgin Sport Oxford Half 2017. Here’s a short review of the race for what is the start the busy autumn race season.
In fifteen years of running I can confidently say that this was perhaps the best organised race I’ve ever attended.
From the Virgin Sport team across the board to the volunteers, caterers and local crowds supporting the race the whole event ran like clockwork, and despite a large field of over 10,000 runners still managed to feel friendly and accessible.
Congratulations of course to race winners Joe Morwood (1h 7′ 52″) and Kimberley Horner (1h 18′ 34″) with their outstanding times!
The race village in the University Parks was well laid out with plenty of facilities and an excellent baggage system that was a breeze to use, segregated into simple pens based on your race number and redeemed at the end of the race by a tear-off strip on your vest number. Their was an energetic warm-up at the start and plenty of high-fives by the Virgin Morph Men and Women!
For 2017 the route was largely flat and fast with a long 3 mile hairpin out along the Banbury Road followed by a 5 mile loop into the Oxfordshire countryside via the Marston Ferry Road, Marston Village, back through leafy North Oxford a mile around the University Parks and a final mile swan-song through the historic centre. Inclines were generally low with just 40m elevation across the entire circuit via my GPS.
Water, water, everywhere – and plenty of drops to drink! The water and sports drinks stations were brilliantly stocked and really well managed by volunteers with cups and bottles, and even a jelly baby station. Throughout the race you knew exactly where you were up to with high quality signage and large mile markers. Given this was a Virgin event many of the signs had the trademark Branson humour which were a fun way of keeping runners motivated in the latter stages.
The final stretch along Parks Road to the finish had a great crowd and with it being flat and fast gave you a good opportunity for a sprint with grandstand finish. Medals, Water and bananas, bags, and t-shirts in that order were delivered with military precision by friendly faces.
If there were any minor tweaks to the event it would only be that the race village in University Parks to the start line on Broad Street is around 1/2 mile distant and that getting so many people from A to B after 9am for a 9.30am start had bottlenecks in parts and like many people I missed my race pen so was stuck in ‘traffic’ for the first 2 miles! The mile 12 marker was also partially obscured by trees.
But what a great city and a great race.
As for me, not a PB day but 80th in my category and 1h 35 was probably about right!
Enjoy your running!
Full results here: