Julian Oxborough goes down road in Salisbury Half Marathon

Julian Oxborough makes his way down the long and winding Netherhampton Road which was on the route of the Salisbury Half Marathon

Whilst it may not seem so plausible that anyone would want to travel from afar to Salisbury just for a spot of sightseeing, it is, however, easy to see why people might want to go there for the Salisbury Half Marathon. And that’s exactly what Julian Oxborough and Joy Wright did for the 2018 edition of one of the most popular Half Marathon races in the South.

The course for the Salisbury Half Marathon is flat and fast and generally benefits from a superb atmosphere as many spectators line the streets to cheer the runners on. The route takes in some of the great landmarks of the city proving that, contrary to some of the recent reporting, Salisbury does have its fair share of attractions.

The event is now in its 21st year and it was the third year of the new city centre route. The race consists of two laps, starting on New Canal. The first lap runs through the cathedral grounds, with the race finishing on lap two in the sports field within the cathedral grounds.

It’s been a difficult past few months for Julian as he’d been battling against anxiety and depression which have, in turn, caused his fitness levels to plummet. Originally he was down to enter the Marathon race at Bournemouth Marathon festival but he felt that he wasn’t ready for a full marathon at that stage so opted to go for the Salisbury Half instead.

In fact, he was unsure whether to even do the Salisbury Half or whether to give it a miss and focus on getting his fitness levels back up for the Great South Run a couple of weeks after. After much deliberating though, he decided to give it a go and, if worst comes to the worst, just use it as a training run.

Having run the race last year as well, finishing in 2 hours 46 minutes, Julian found it much tougher this time round. The temperature was quite warm, peaking at around midday when the race started. He’d been quite stressed about it in the lead up to the race and was actually feeling sick on the race day from worrying so much about it.

In the early stages of the race he was having anxiety attacks, with his mind telling him to pull out. He’d already stopped on quite a few occasions by the time he got to the 10k point. He had to dig really deep to try to get the end of each mile but he kept pushing on.

Julian focuses as he progresses along the course

Julian found it tough going after the end of the first lap knowing that he had to go round again

Realising he wasn’t going to get under three hours, he decided to take it easy and jog/walk the remainder of the race. The later stages were quite tough going for Julian but the amazing  support he had all around him kept him going.

There were cars beeping their horns and people shouting words of encouragement everywhere he turned. One car was even blasting out the “Eye of the Tiger” tune from the Rocky films when he reached the end of the first loop.

A cyclist who was helping out stayed with him for the last four miles, pushing him again and again. The race organisers kept the roads closed even when they were due to be reopened to allow the last few runners to continue their journey.

Going through the city and running past the vast crowds that had gathered to watch brought some confidence back to Julian and once he’s recovered from this race he plans to start training again. This time it’ll be for the London Landmark Half Marathon which he’s doing in March, running on behalf of mental health charity Mind.

Julian makes his way through the streets of Salisbury

Julian makes his way through the streets of Salisbury

Completing the race in a time of 3 hours 10 minutes and 35 seconds, Julian was pleased the run and, given the circumstances, he shouldn’t be too disappointed in not going under the 3-hour barrier. It’s been a tough road this time round and he did well just to make it to the end.

One of the roads Julian ran down as part of the course was a road he used to live on back in the day so he had some good memories to reminisce over as he made his way through.

Julian would like to do one more marathon next year, if the fates allow. After that he’ll be looking to switch to shorter distances races where he feels like he can achieve more. He’s also now entered the Gilly Hilly race that is in November.

As for Joy Wright, she decided to enter the race late on and having not done much long distance running in the build up, it was always going to be a battle.

Joy Wright powers along

Joy Wright was a late entry into the Salisbury Half Marathon, going into the race without a great deal of training behind her

Joy likes a challenge though and having just come off a good season on the track, she is looking to try her hand at a few road races over the winter months.

Hampered by injury and health issues, Joy hasn’t been able to make it to training as often as she would have liked over recent months. She has a problem with her achilles art the moment which she is trying to shake but it means she has to be quite careful in choosing which races and events she does do.

Despite all that though, Joy had a decent run finishing in 1 hour 39 minutes and 42 seconds. That put her 34th out of 373 ladies in the race and 16th out of 130 in the Female 40-49 category. Overall she came 195th out of the 915 who successfully completed the race.

Joy makes her way round the Salisbury Half Marathon course

Joy managed to wing it well, finishing as 34th lady in a time of 1:39:42

It was not a bad result at all considering she hadn’t done any specific training for it. Joy would like to, at some stage, do a 10 mile or half marathon race with a proper training programme behind her and see what she is capable of doing.

She has entered the Wimborne 10, which is the next Dorset Road Race League after Gold Hill so it will be interesting to see how she gets on in that. She’s also deliberating over whether to enter the Boscombe 10k which takes place on the weekend after the Wimborne 10.

In March next year Joy is hoping to compete in the World Masters Indoor Championships in Torun, Poland, provided she can shake off her achilles injury and get back to proper training.

Julian Oxborough outside Salisbury Cathedral

Julian proudly stands outside Salisbury Cathedral with his medal after completing a tough but ultimately rewarding race