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Marlow Half Marathon

The Stables

3 Well End Farm, Marlow road

Bourne End, SL8 5PJ

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Do not be fooled by the level streets of Marlow, you will soon know you’re in for some hard work. The course climbs steadily, an ascent of 200ft, until it levels out at Marlow Common. This is the time to get the feel of hills in your legs and rightsize your exertion for the challenges ahead.

Now, your first big dipper. 80ft straight down, 130ft back up, and 80ft down again: all within half a mile. Here is the time to re-awaken your legs for fast descending and steep climbs before the real challenges come. (There are some mean gradients on this course. For many, a concerted uphill walking effort will make more progress than what feels like running on the spot: don’t be afraid to walk hills.)

You now have some steady climbing to do over the next two and a half miles, until you reach the highest point of the course, Parmoor. You will have now climbed over half the total elevation of the course 1020ft, even though you have run less than 5 miles. Do not be dispirited: you have some easier running ahead of you.

Easier running that is after the long descent that comes next, 350ft all the way down to the Hambleden Valley. The slope is steep with often an autumnal leaf covering. Let yourself go if you can, but be safe.

Some level running now with great views over the beautiful Hambleden Valley now await you. If you feel your race spirit has been crushed, you now have a little breathing space to re-awaken it. You will need it!

Time to focus all your resolve now as you turn the corner at Pheasant’s Hill and start the next hill. The climb up to Rockwell End, a total 266ft is what makes this half marathon notorious for some. There is only one thing to do, find your rhythm, focus on your breathing, and the top will come eventually. Pat yourself on the back as you now find some easy running again: you have broken the back of this beastly course.

The only drama that now awaits you is the second big dipper 150ft down and straight back up, until you find Marlow Common again and you have ran full circle.

Your legs will now respond to the fabulous two mile descent to the finish, you can put all the pain behind you now as you enjoy the elation of completing one of the toughest road halves in the country. Congratulations: You have beaten the Marlow Striders Half Marathon.


Every half marathon has its own special defining features, the Marlow Striders one perhaps more than most!