THOUSANDS of athletes from all over the country are finalising their preparations for the annual MK Festival of Running on Sunday, March 4.
The event – which started out as a half marathon in 2003 with 800 competitors – has had almost 5,000 entries in each of the last two years.
On offer is the traditional half marathon for those who are preparing for the Brighton, London or Milton Keynes Marathons in April, plus a 10km race and 5km fun run for those who simply want to experience the thrill of a big-race finish.
There’s still time to enter the races online at www.mkhalf.co.uk as entries close on Saturday. As last year, the official charity being supported by the Festival is the Clic Sargent Children’s Cancer Charity.
All races start and finish just outside the XScape Building in CMK. First off at 10am will be the 5k fun runners – more than 300 people completed the redway course last year, many running in fancy dress and raising money for their favourite charity.
Next off at 10:10am will be the 10km race followed 15 minutes later by the half marathon. The first three miles of these two races run along the city’s grid roads, going south along the V7 Saxon Street and then east along the H9 Groveway.
The V7 and H9 are subject to rolling road closures between 10am and 11am and a series of diversions will be in operation to ensure the traffic keeps flowing.
After 4.5 miles the 10k runners head back to the city centre from Woolstones on the redways, while the half marathon runners do a redway loop around Willen Lake, Broughton Village and Monkston back to Woolstones to return to the city centre along the same redway route taken by the 10k runners.
Over 100 volunteers from Marshall Milton Keynes Athletic Club will be marshalling the course, manning the stations at 3, 6, 9 and 11 miles and at the finish, plus the baggage station and registration desk.
The 10k and half marathon races will be chip-timed by Championchip. Over 2,500 runners completed the half marathon last year, with around 500 finishing the 10km event.
The organisers are confident there will be similar numbers for this year’s festival which is to encourage runners of all standards to take part in a fantastic celebration of the benefits of running.
Pictured ‘enjoying’ the festival last year is Wendy Webber – the 10th woman over the line in the half marathom.