Julian Oxborough in the ABP Southampton Half Marathon

The ABP Half Marathon presented a difficult proposition for Julian Oxborough but he was ready to put in a performance

Staged on a challenging route with some pace busting inclines, the ABP Southampton Half Marathon is not to be taken lightly, as Julian Oxborough was about to discover when he lined up for the April 2023 edition.

The route starts in the city centre before running past ABP Southampton docks, then over the famous Itchen Bridge with its glorious views across the Southampton Waters, The Solent and, even, the New Forest.

Following a section by the shoreline at Weston Shore, it then heads inside the legendary St Mary’s Football Stadium, home of Premier League football team, Southampton, aka The Saints.

Passing over Northam Bridge with riverside views once again, it then runs through the beautiful Riverside Park before crossing into Portswood and going through Southampton Common, which is home to the UK’s second largest parkrun.

The race was first launched in 2015 and has grown a reputation for being one of the most inclusive and fun events in the local running calendar. Here’s Julian’s first hand account of how events unfolded…

I decided to run the ABP Southampton Half Marathon because of the challenging outlook and how undulating the course was and to conqueror the famous Itchen Bridge which is an iconic landmark of the race.

The event has other distances to pick from including a 5k,10k, and the full Marathon which included a second lap of the half marathon route, so not for the faint hearted.

Julian Oxborough ahead of the ABP Southampton Half Marathon

Julian is primed and ready for action

The race itself was amazing, with the start being at 9am with the full Marathon runners there as well as the Half competitors. It was cloudy but turned into warm conditions as the race progressed.

I was using this race as a training preparation for the Easter Bunny 10k in Yeovil the following weekend. Having been made aware of the challenge ahead of me, I took the option to use this race as a moderate run and to get some hill work in.

Julian Oxborough in action at the ABP Southampton Half Marathon

Julian attacks the race as it heads out of the city centre

I had been training for a Half Marathon target of 2:30 but having done my homework changed the plan to get under 3:30 because of the nature of the race and how tough it was going to be. The 2.30 goal will come later in the year.

I warmed up with a drill routine of 15 minutes and made my way to the start before setting off. I felt extremely good and really well prepared. My focus was not to walk on any occasions, which I have done in other half marathons, and to keep to a pace that was comfortable enough to deal with.

Julian Oxborough battling well in the ABP Southampton Half Marathon

Julian battled well despite some very tough inclines on route

I wanted to hit around the 15:50 mark for each mile split and my pace turned out to be an average of 15.02. Managing to clock every mile under 18 minutes was another goal of mine and I managed to achieve this perfectly and had plenty of fuel left right till the end of the race.

The race was the toughest ones I’ve ever done but I still clocked a time of 3 hours 21 minutes, encountering no issues at all on the way.

The elevation gain was 513 ft and hills were continuous with a few flat sections in between. As a whole, it was a brilliant event which I will do again next year as a build up towards the 2024 London Marathon.”

Julian heads round the pitch before reaching the finish line

The finish of the race was in St Mary’s Stadium, home of Southampton FC

The winner of the race was Ben Holmes of Solihull and Small Heath AC and he got round in 1:12:33, putting him a minute and a half ahead of his nearest rival. That was Christopher Newnham of Ryde Harriers, a recognizable name from the Hampshire Road Race League scene, even having some tussles with Tag on the odd occasion.

He clocked a time of 1:14:04 which was a minute and a half ahead of the next man over the line, David Healey of Lordshill Road Runners. He registered a time of 1:15:35.

Tina Christmann of Southampton Tri Club was 1st female and came 28th overall, crossing the line in 1:23:42. Bernie Versey of Lordshill was 2nd female in 1:27:51 which put her in 62nd place overall. Then it was Louise Razack coming in as 3rd female and 65th overall in 1:28:25.

Julian Oxborough at St Mary's Stadium

Julian arrives at the finish after 3 hours 21 minutes of running

The Marathon race was won by Nicholas Curtis and he got round in 2:41:09. Luke De-Benedictis came in 2nd place, clocking a time of 2:44:40, with Derek Lincoln taking 3rd in 2:46:23.

Hannah Curtis of Denmead Striders was 1st female, getting round in 3:24:24 which put her in 67th place overall.

Joe Wade of Ryde Harriers took top spot in the 10k race, clocking a time of exactly 32 minutes. That was enough to see him comfortably clear of Richard Waldron of Southampton who took 2nd in 33:45, with James Saunders of University of Bristol taking 3rd in 34:24.

Bethan Francis of TBAC was 1st female and 16th overall, reaching the line in 39:23.

Julian Oxborough after the ABP Southampton Half Marathon

Julian had certainly been made to work for his medal and t-shirt

The 5k race win was taken by Jonnie Findell of Southampton University in a time of 17:02, with Josh Chivers of Lordshill taking 2nd in 17:09. Michael Reynolds was 3rd in 18:29.

Grace Baker of Winchester & District was 1st female, getting round in 19:22 which put her in 4th place overall.

It was a job well done for Julian and provided he recovered okay, he could feel confident ahead of the Easter Bunny 10k, with a tough half marathon safely banked.