After having a much-needed break since my marathon in March, I have been working on my general running fitness. As my NEXT marathon plan doesn’t start for another couple of weeks, I had planned to run a few 5/10KMs to get me going again. So when the Oxford Town And Gown 10KM was offered to me, I put it on my running planner straight away.
Oxford is only an hours drive away from London and I had never ran in this area before. I was excited to see what the route was like as I believed it would be a beautiful course. Oxford has many attractions, many of them belonging to the university and colleges. There is a lot of history in this city and the whole day was looking to be a fun one.
The charity running the event, Muscular Dystrophy UK have had their 10KM series for a while now, 35 years to be exact! The story behind the race is on their website here. The charity helps raise awareness and funding to fight muscle-wasting conditions. Over 70,000 people in the UK live with these life conditions and it was a real eye opener to see how many people do suffer from them.
On the day of the race, the sun shone high and the music played loudly for us to hear. The atmosphere on race day never gets old and I felt great spirits within the air! I collected my race pack (which took a matter of minutes) and worked my way through the crowd to see what was going on.
Food and drink vans/stalls were waiting for finishers (or hungry spectators!) that had a variety of choices; including for those that are vegan/vegetarian. It smelt divine and I was already hungry before I had even started! Coffee would have to be the choice for now, which was available for us coffee lovers.
There was a baggage stall but I fortunately had someone to look after my things, so I never got to see how it was operated, but I presume it all went hunky dory, ready for racers to get set up for race day! A few more stands were there for the charity and sponsors too, so if you needed any information, they had all the extra deets.
Prior to the 10KM race, there was a 3KM junior race, which aims to bring the whole family along. This meant there were also plenty of dogs (WIN!) This started before the 10KM warm up, which was happening at 9:30am, as our big race would start for 10am sharp. A short walk towards the finish line and it was time to get my game on!
Coming into the starting ‘pens’ there was a 60 minutes+ section, a 60 minutes section and a sub-60 minutes section; which then included pacers of 55, 50 and 45 minutes. I believe this to be correct, so if you do wish for another finishing time, do check on their website here!
I slipped in behind the 45 minute pacer as I knew I was looking for a tempo run (but not quite a PB) and got chatting to some of the other racers in my area. It is always great to hear from the other runners around you; were all in the same boat, after all! Nerves and excitement filled the air as presenter Gabby Logan sent us off on our way with the starting horn.
We set off in fairly good pace and went our way around Oxford city centre. The route was closed off, which meant we got to enjoy it all without the traffic! The route was great, with only a few narrow roads which is to be expected. On this particular day, I had decided to run without headphones, so I was excited to see what the people of Oxford would give us!
People cheered and gave us high fives like in any other race, which gave us all the boost when we needed it most. My favourite part was coming into the last 3KM as it would be round the University Parks. The sun was shining and the scenery was so green – I love this about running!
We flew around the park and I even got a sprint finish… Even though I personally struggled with the race because of lack of sleep, it hadn’t changed my thoughts on the race as a whole. The route was flat and stunning; one for a PB I recon. That finish feeling is always great!
The goody-bag was a good-un; all packed inside a recyclable bag. As shown below, we had a nice selection of snacks and drinks for that post-race crave! All from well-known companies too. The Lenor unstoppables was a nice touch and I’ve noticed that they are used by many runners. That is my washing sorted!
The only negative that I had on the day was receiving a text message with my finishers time. Normally this is the bit I patiently wait for and I was shocked by my time. From what it had said, I had a PB and I was excited to tell the world! I had put up a few posts and waited for the results to come on the website too.
When I checked the results online, the time was completely off (by five+ minutes) so I was confused as to which the real-time was. All the other details seemed to match, but this was just odd. To be honest, the website results felt far more ‘real’ to me and I had to accept that I hadn’t got a PB this time and the first result was completely wrong. I had sent an email out to let them know.
I am guessing this was a really simple mistake that could happen at any race… I’d presume that it wouldn’t happen again.
Overall, the day was FANTASTIC, even with the PB shenanigans. I hadn’t expected much from my time and it would have only been a bonus if it were to be correct. The race itself was very well organised, and the sponsors did a great job too. The stalls were top-notch, having a good amount of choices with something for everyone.
My favourite stall was the Newton Europe smoothie-maker bike. We chose our smoothie from the menu and it was placed in a jug. This was then attached to a bike for us to peddle/blend to make our own smoothie. It was so much fun!
The race is normally priced at £23 (or £30 for on the day registrations) but keep an eye on the website for any changes. It is a fantastic price for what you get. Including your goodies, road closures, event stalls and timing chip – you really get your moneys worth from the race itself. Tourist racing, eat your heart out!
Big thumbs up for this race and I will definitely be looking at their other Town and Gowns (Cambridge and Leicester) for my future events. I loved every second of it and would highly recommend to all runners.
Check out the Town & Gown 10KM series website HERE for more information.
This race was kindly #gifted to me for the review.