Oxford (half marathon)

Oxbridge = Oxford and Cambridge. Both cities are about 60 miles of London, both highly picturesque with stunning architecture, a river running through, famous universities, hordes of tourists and a historic rivalry witch dates back more than 800 years because they were the only two universities in England for a long time.

Oxford university was established around the 11th century, making it the second-oldest university in Europe behind the university of Bologna. Cambridge was founded 1209 from students escaping from Oxford and similar to Cambridge (River Cam and Bridge), Oxford got it names thanks to the river too (Oxenafrod, ford of the Oxen, shallow crossing where the Oxen can cross the river safely). Punting, sitting in a wooden boat on the river while a guide pushes it along with a pole is a popular tourist activity in both cities and the students are cycling and avoid crashing into the large groups of tourists. Both cities have an equal number of stunning buildings and memorable views. Oxford’s architecture is more uniform, as it’s mostly built from the same Headington stone, while as Cambridge has no local stone, its buildings are more diverse. Cambridge has an average of 576 mm of rainfall per year against Oxford’s 660 mm, Oxford is located east of the Cotswolds, an area of rolling hills while Cambridge only has the Dog Magog Downs with an elevation of 75 m above sea level. Oxford is associated with the motor industry (BMW produce the Mini there and several Formula One teams are based in this region), whereas the area surrounding Cambridge is known as Silicon Fen, one to he most important technology center in Europe.

Oxford and Cambridge have a lot in common but some differences too. They say Oxford is bigger and livelier and Cambridge smaller and prettier. Devently worth a visit and as the advert for the Oxford Half Marathon popped up last March I signed in without hesitation. I was thinking of a family trip but Leonie had a swim meet in Norwich, Joelle was working hard on her rowing career and Markus needed to manage the sports ambitions of our daughters. Therefore I hit the roads by myself last Sunday morning without my usual supporting and cheering team. It was grey and pouring but I was in cheerful spirits and thought everything that’s coming down now won’t be up anymore when the race starts. Well I thought wrong…

It took me ages to arrive at the city center, even I choose the Park & Ride bus as recommended and finally I needed to walk some miles from the “extra” bus stop to the bag drop off zone and finally to the start line. I arrived in Oxford shortly before 8 and almost missed the start at 9:30… Even I was well prepared with a trendy bin bag dress I was soaking wet when I started running and it didn’t get dryer until shortly before the finish. The course description was: flat route that showcases everything we love about Oxford. Enjoy running amongst the dreaming spires and the beautiful architecture of this historic city. Yes it was flat but I really think a course in Oxford should more offer instead of miles of doubling back residential roads and a muddy university park. Okay at the end we passed by the Radcliffe Camera and some Colleges but by then I was in a really bad temper and not at all in sightseeing mood anymore. Normally when I crossed the finish line I’m again in peace with the world and myself while eating a banana and drinking my finisher beer. But wait there was no food and the beer a Michelob Ultra light, what the hell, who needs to count calories after a half Marathon? I’m still wondering what was going on in the mind of this marketing guru…

At least it will be one of the races to remember and maybe I’m going to give Oxford another chance to shine… In the mean time I’m back in small Cambridge and completely agree that Cambridge is prettier, ha!!!!!



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