Laura Rothwell in the Run Bournemouth Supersonic 10k

After recording a 10k PB at Run Bournemouth, Laura Rothwell was hoping for a London Marathon Championship qualifying time at the Oxford Half Marathon

Home to the most famous university in Britain, the city of Oxford boasts buildings in every style of English architecture since the late Anglo-Saxon era. It’s a place steeped in history and culture and the sights to see are plentiful. That wasn’t why Laura Rothwell was paying a visit though. She was there for one reason only and that was to achieve a qualifying time for the prestigious Championship start at the London Marathon next Spring.

After losing her good for age slot in this year’s race due to injury, Laura was determined to ensure she would be there next time. And the sub 1:28 half marathon time that she needed was certainly within reach for a woman with her ability. She ran a 1:29:15 at the Reading Half Marathon in 2021 and in February this year, ran a 1:30:21 at Brighton. She’d been improving since then though and had been regularly attending the Tuesday night sessions at Bournemouth AC since April when she first came along.

Laura Rothwell races along the prom in the Run Bournemouth Supersonic 10k

Laura’s 10k performance showed she was in good form and gave her reason for optimism

On the weekend before the Oxford Half Marathon, she recorded an impressive new 10k PB of 40:46 at Run Bournemouth which saw her finish as fourth female. She knew from that that she was in good form, so a tilt at the Championship qualifying time at Oxford was a realistic possibility. In fact, she was feeling quite optimistic about her chances.

The start of the Oxford Half Marathon

The 2023 Oxford Half Marathon gets underway

The route for the Oxford Half Marathon starts in the city centre, taking the runners on a journey through the pristine and historic streets before passing through Old Marston Village. There is also the chance to catch a glimpse of the River Cherwell and Oxford University’s iconic Lady Margaret Hall before the finish line beckons on Parks Road.

It was purported to be a flat and fast route so that would hopefully aid Laura’s prospects of achieving the result she wanted. Completing the first 5k in 20:40, her average pace per kilometre was 4:08. She then went through the 10k mark in 41:23, meaning at that stage, her pace had been extremely consistent.

The Oxford Half Marathon gets underway

It was a big race and the field was brimming with talent

Getting to the 15k point in 1:02:39, she had dropped the pace slightly to 4:15 per kilometre. She then managed to hold that pace for the remaining 6km of the race. Unfortunately though, it turned out she’d just missed out on her target time, crossing the line in 1:28:08. It was agonisingly close and to have missed out by nine seconds was frustrating.

Finishing 468th out of 9,149, she’d come in as 37th female out of 3,909 and was 18th out of 930 in the F25-29 category. It was an impressive result for Laura but of course, it was tinged with disappointment after missing out on her target time.

It was still a brilliant PB and showed she is progressing and was a silver lining. She’ll be able to have another go in the forthcoming Gosport Half Marathon and if the weather is kind on the day, she may well do it there.

Her partner James Phillips will be there as well running for Bournemouth AC, along with Rich Brawn, Grzegorz Kazaniecki, David Pinney and Tom Ralph. It’s a Hampshire Road Race League fixture and after a no-show at the Hayling 10, it will be crucial that the Bournemouth AC men get back on track. It will also be crucial for Laura though that she gets under 1:28 so she can sneak onto that start line for London 2024.