The Vitality Reading Half Marathon took place for the first time in 1981 and the event has proved an enduringly popular fixture. More than 10,000 runners took part in the race on Sunday 19 March which has been given a three star certification rating from European Athletics Running for All.
The race is popular among experienced runners looking for a tune-up ahead of next month’s London Marathon just as it is among first-time participants training specifically for the event. Each finisher enjoyed a grandstand finish inside the Madejski Stadium - home to Reading Football Club - which was packed out with spectators cheering the runners across the finish-line.
Long-time British international Andy Vernon was the first finisher home in 63:08 ahead of Chris Thompson (63:39) and Dewi Griffiths (63:54) while former European U20 cross country champion Charlotte Purdue won the women’s race in 72:15 as part of her build-up to the London Marathon next month.
"I didn't think I was going to make it, I was seeing stars at the end, for the last 600m,” Purdue told the Reading Chronicle after the race. “My number fell off halfway round so I had to run holding it! People still seemed to know who I was though as they were cheering me on.”
While the course is a popular one for runners looking to beat their best times, the event is also a boon for charitable causes. Event organisers have estimated that over a million pounds will be generated for good causes from this year’s race.
Nick Rance was one of the many runners taking part first and foremost for charitable purposes. He was running for Cancer Research UK in memory of his father. “Everyone involved in making this event happen did a fantastic job and I can’t wait to come back next year. The stadium finish is definitely a unique draw, it allows us mortals the chance to feel like an Olympian for just a few moments!” he said.
The programme also included the 3km Green Park Challenge which allowed children and younger runners to sample the race day atmosphere and enjoy the finish in the Madejski Stadium. Some of them might even compete over the full half marathon distance one day.
“A huge congratulations to each and every runner that took part in the race this weekend. Every year we are bowled over by the hard work and dedication of the half marathon runners. The town of Reading never fails to host such a fantastic event and this year was no exception,” said race director Judith Manson.
Entries are already open for the 2018 edition of the Reading Half Marathon which is due to take place on 18 March. To sign up, visit www.readinghalfmarathon.com.
The European Athletics Quality Road Race standards act as an assurance for road runners throughout Europe. They distinguish between races that respect the standards and those that haven’t sought certification or assessment. They form the foundation of Running for All, a strong recognisable brand for running activities throughout Europe.
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