Grant and Stone Marlow 5
This is the second time I have run this lovely little local race. In fact, Marlow 5 was my first ever race when I started running. Generally, there tend not to be that many 5 mile long races. So, it’s nice to have one close by in the neighbouring town of Marlow.
For those who have not heard of Marlow, Marlow is on the River Thames bordering both Buckinghamshire and Berkshire Home to Olympic rower Steve Redgrave and twinned with the town Marly le Roi in France. Plenty of cafes and restaurants line the High Street, giving it a pleasant social ambience and cafe culture atmosphere.
The venue and race details
Handy Cross Runners from the neighbouring town High Wycombe organise this race. From my understanding, they have been putting on this event for quite some time.
It starts and finishes in Higginson Park then makes its way down the High Street through the town and residential areas in a single lap course. Locally it’s a pretty popular event, this year there appeared to be even more interest. Perhaps people were taking advantage of the early bird prices or two race deal – Entry for the Marlow 5 and also the Hell Fire 10k / Half marathon, another race Handy Cross Runners organise in the summer.
There was a limit of 2000 entrants, (last years entrants total was 1200) a minimum age of 15 and cost of entry of £16 affiliated or £18 unaffiliated in advance and more expensive on the day at £25 if places were available. Venue facilities listed were ample toilet facilities within Higginson Park and in the Leisure Complex, but no changing facilities. Three Grant & Stone baggage vans available for runners to leave personal belongings at your own risk.
This year I believe approximately 1600 runners entered in the end effect. Quite a few parking options were available a short distance away from the Race HQ. The small car park next to Higginson Park and the local leisure complex is convenient. However, I would recommend getting there in good time to be on the safe side. Before the event, you received thorough and detailed race information via email. On arrival, everything was set out and seemed very organised. I saw the marshals just finishing their race briefing, so I decided to grab a cup of tea from the nearby coffee shop in the park before collecting my race bib.
Shortly after, lots of runners started to arrive, some in club t-shirts from various clubs locally. Quite a few runners from my club Hazlemere Runners were taking part, as well as a few other friends. Everyone seemed quite excited and looking forward to the race. I tried to use the leisure complex’s toilet facilities but was declined by the reception even though they were listed as available for use on the runBritain registration portal. Public toilets and Portaloos were by the cafe not so near the start if you wanted a last-minute toilet trip as you sometimes do.
The route and recap
I had not run for nearly 5 weeks, hampered with a slight calf injury. Therefore, I decided to start at the back, and see how things went. Time was not overly important to me, I was more interested in making it around and getting my legs going again. You start in a funnel, which feeds you across the start line and out of the park before hitting the High Street. The run is on partially closed roads. It is also the finish of the race but in the reverse direction of the start.
Perhaps this year the run could have been organised in waves. This would have helped to avoid congestion for runners in the initially few hundred meters of the park and High Street. That being said, having the start in the park and filtering along the High Street is ideal as there are plenty of positions for friends or family to spectate and support.
The route takes few turns here and there. This is okay and combined with the support, the run does not drag on. You received a lot of encouragement from spectators as you made your way around the course, which is always pleasing. Plenty of marshals encouraged throughout as well. Thank you marshals!
Cups of water were available shortly after crossing the finish line. However, and unfortunately, they had run out by the time I had finished. That would be my only criticism along with the Portaloos location,… perhaps a few more cups of water would not go amiss. This would account for the slower runners like myself.
You also received a fantastic goody bag, technical t-shirt, and great medal to boot. This made the event remarkably good value overall. Out of all the races I have taken part in so far, I must say the goody bag is probably the best I have received.
To summarise, if you are looking for a flat, good value, well organised, and thoroughly enjoyable race I recommend you give this one a try. I will be coming back hopefully year in year out.
I’m going to give the Grant and Stone Marlow 5 a score of 4.25 out of 5 on the Runiversity of life™ Runometer™
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