There's Something About Abingdon

The Abingdon Marathon is creating quite a stir on the RW forum. What's its secret?

Posted: 14 August 2006
by Jane Hoskyn

RW forum member Debster and fellow Abingdon finisher Cyril Bethel, pictured on RichK's website

On paper, the Abingdon Marathon is no head-turner. It doesn't pack any big-city glitz, like London or New York. It's not in a tourist magnet like Windsor or the New Forest. And, unlike the Great North Run, it’s not on telly.

But this marathon, in a sleepy market town just outside Oxford, is hugely popular. Race day isn't until October 22, but the event's 1,000 places have long been snapped up – 107 of them by RW forum members, who've already filled the Abingdon Marathon thread with more than 2,300 posts.

The forum's enthusiasm for this event even surprises some RW members. As MrsMac put it: "Oh my God, I was going to ask if this race was full yet, but it looks like the forumites have taken all the places!" And this from S3oB: "Noooooo! The training I can stand, but nearly eight months of the Abingdon Marathon forum?"

Your forum threads have helped give Abingdon the kind of buzz that's normally reserved for headline-grabbing humdingers like the London Marathon.

So what’s the secret? To find out, I scoured the Abingdon threads and spoke to a few RW members.

Fast, flat and forum-tastic

At first the attraction seemed to boil down to two words: flat, and fast. Put simply, this is a marathon to bring out the personal best in everyone. "I guess that’s the main thing that comes up on the Abo forum," RW member Biastai told me. "I just have to say, this is the one. Each time I run it, I get a personal best."

"The size of the field is probably very good for first-time marathoners," adds Forest Runner, who’ll be running Abingdon for the first time this year. "The field at Bungay or New Forest is only about 200 or 300, so you can feel isolated if you don't run with someone else. Also, the flatness of the course at Abingdon is good for first-timers. New Forest was my second marathon, and I found it very tough with all the hills."

The Abingdon Marathon also obeys the three cardinal rules of event management: organisation, organisation, organisation. "The event itself is well organised, and the marshals are great," says Biastai. "Every year I’m impressed by them, especially as they’re all volunteers."

But the real secret of Abingdon’s success seems to be its army of fans. The more enthusiastic they get, and the more they share their enthusiasm on the RW forum, the more entrants it attracts. "Abingdon is such a friendly race, and a great deal of that is due to the RW members," says Biastai. "When you have a forum to discuss it on, you end up with the Abingdon thread phenomenon!"

Forest Runner agrees: "I know a lot of RW members and other runners will be running Abingdon this year as their first marathon. I'm sure this is partly because of feedback from people who have run it before, and partly because there’s such an active thread."

One potential downside of this huge buzz is that newcomers may wonder how they’ll ever fit in with this gang of Abingdon fans. Fear not, says Biastai. "People new to the Abingdon forum, or any of the RW forums, should just jump in and introduce themselves."

The thread is currently buzzing away with members comparing training notes and offering advice. Some are even suggesting venues for post-race meet-ups, more than two months ahead of race day. If it all leaves you itching to join the Abingdon action, make sure to get your entry in extra-early next year!

The Secret of Abingdon's Success: What You Said

  • Run Around: "A must race for every marathoner - elite to beginner!"

  • Blackers: "This is an excellent event. The stadium start encourages a great feeling of cameradery which continues throughout the race. The organisation is the best I've seen in years. I will definitely be back next year. 80% down to the organisation, and 20% down to the flat, flat, flat profile of the course."

  • Flying Ant: "If you're thinking of doing a marathon and miss out on the FLM, then make this you next choice."

  • MumOnTheRun: "It's a brilliant marathon, very well organised, a flat course, lots of forumites doing it so plenty of support. Sounds perfect to me for a first marathon."

  • Tracey G: "It is a fast course with very supportive marshals, one even gave me a Mars Bar. I finished in 5:53:53 and there were still people in the grandstand to cheer me home."

  • Caramac: "It’s a good flat course with great marshalls and a supportive forum presence."

  • Alan Every: "The course was the first I ever did. Nice and flat, friendly bunch of people. Stadium finish. This is a real good one to select for a first."

  • Parrotmad: "Count me in for this one, it will be my 3rd Abingdon in a row! The course is fairly scenic and pretty flat as well. It was my first marathon course."

  • Little Miss Happy: "It's great for a first one. Ask Shades on the training thread for a copy of her schedule."

  • RichK: "Once again a great day out. The large number of Forumites made a difference of course. Abingdon Amblers have a top event here and their organisation and friendly marshalls are an example to us all."

  • straitjacket:: "For a first time marathon run I was definitely encouraged to do it again. A marshall at about mile 22 shouted to me, "You can do it, I can see it in your eyes". Whether he could or not, these words kept going round my head like a mantra. See you next year."

  • Murf: "You know you want to."

  • Details, Photos and More

    Previous article
    The North Pole Marathon
    Next article
    Join The RW Forum At Windsor Half 2006

    forum report, abingdon marathon, forum

    Discuss this article

    I am so disappointed that I cannot do this race, as I am doing the GSR on the same date.

    This was my first marathon, will have to try and do it in 2007.
    Posted: 04/01/2006 at 11:42

    Bugger is it the same day ?

    I will also have to find another late year marathon looks like cardiff or luton for me

    year 4 at the GSR for me
    Posted: 04/01/2006 at 11:43

    Gobi - GSR is two weeks later that last year. I have paid for GSR, and it is at the end of hubbys holiday. We thought we would take the caravan and spend a few days there and explore Portsmouth.
    Posted: 04/01/2006 at 11:49

    Hi Tracey

    I have already entered GSR as I live about an hr away and had planned to do Abingdon as my attempt at a 3hr marathon

    Posted: 04/01/2006 at 11:51

    I PLAN to do this!!
    Posted: 11/01/2006 at 10:36

    I am looking for an autumn marathon to attempt a P.B. would anyone who has done this one tell me if it will be good for that. Is there any support along route? is it well organised?

    Posted: 12/01/2006 at 17:00

    yes it is a good course
    Posted: 12/01/2006 at 17:08

    Oh no, not again...
    Posted: 12/01/2006 at 17:25

    It is a fast course. It can be lonely if you are a slow runner, but very supportive marshals, one even gave me a mars bar. I finished in 5:53:53 and the was still people in the grandstand to cheer me home.

    Wendy, and for us ladies, plenty of bushes and pub to go a toliet.
    Posted: 12/01/2006 at 17:31

    Wendy, the course loops around and goes through the town centre twice, so lots of opportunities for supporters.
    Posted: 13/01/2006 at 00:37

    Must enter early this year!
    Posted: 13/01/2006 at 05:52

    Great race, good marshalling and in the main good support.

    Abingdon 2005 was my first marathon and I'm planning to be back this year.

    Mike T
    Posted: 13/01/2006 at 08:11

    Thanks everyone. Youv'e sold it to me!
    Posted: 13/01/2006 at 18:55

    Maybe I'll try again this year......
    Posted: 13/01/2006 at 19:13


    Posted: 13/01/2006 at 19:16

    Wendy - you will have a great time. I wished I had not double booked now.
    Posted: 13/01/2006 at 19:41

    oh goodee
    cardiff is the week before again!
    then beachy head

    Posted: 18/01/2006 at 19:21

    Hippo - Go girl.
    Posted: 18/01/2006 at 19:33

    Knowing how popular it got last year I'm thinking that I should maybe enter early..... but I don't want the same thing to happen again!!!
    Posted: 18/01/2006 at 19:34

    Mitten - 2006, will be your PB year. It is a great race.

    Posted: 18/01/2006 at 19:42

    off to get my purse
    I need cheering up
    Posted: 18/01/2006 at 19:42

    and ive entered this

    and a couple of others
    Posted: 18/01/2006 at 20:04

    cheery now then!!
    Posted: 18/01/2006 at 20:09

    Ill pretend if you like

    Im glad this isnt on the same day as cardiff
    Posted: 18/01/2006 at 20:10

    will need to check my diary before I enter any more!!
    Posted: 18/01/2006 at 20:13

    I suppose i no longer need to

    Hope my family dont come up with any events for me to attend
    Posted: 18/01/2006 at 20:14

    Seriously considering this one - did Cardiff last year. Anyone know how the two compare?
    Posted: 23/01/2006 at 11:29

    Well, I've entered online. Nothing like planning ahead...
    Posted: 31/01/2006 at 13:33

    Also entered this one. Had a nightmare there last year and feel like I need to try again. But there's the small matter of FLM to get out of the way first.
    Posted: 31/01/2006 at 13:52

    Entered this had to pull out of last years due to a broken toe looking forward to this years.
    Posted: 12/02/2006 at 14:53

    I've done it again.....had so much fun last year despite maintaining that I was just going to do the one marathon I've now entered White Peaks and this. Guess I'm hooked:-)
    Posted: 12/02/2006 at 15:44

    Just checking in!

    Posted: 13/02/2006 at 19:20

    ommmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm [bangs tray on head]

    I will do sub 3 hours.

    Hang on a sec - bugger that! Actually I don't need to any more - I only need to do 3:15 as the next FLM entry form I fill in will be for a 40 year old. he he.

    See you there. I may bring a fast friend with me this year - help pull me round a bit.

    See you all there!
    Posted: 13/02/2006 at 22:41

    will be great
    forget time, will be after a month of maras for me
    Posted: 13/02/2006 at 23:48

    What ho. I've entered. Hurrah!

    Love the new pic, PH :)
    Posted: 17/02/2006 at 16:55

    Posted: 17/02/2006 at 17:01

    Oooh tempted to do this one.....
    Posted: 18/02/2006 at 14:46

    Noooooo !!!! The training I can stand, but nearly 8 months of the Abingdon Marathon Forum???

    Really good to see it's on given the doubts before last year - well done AA.

    Probably back for the 3rd year in a row - need to doublecheck that it's our county champs (guy running that was supposed to be giving up but couldn't find anyone else .....). That said though, I like this one anyway and it's my first year as a Vet - only 17 secs behind last year's Vet's winner and about 4 mins from the Vets Course record (2:41 I think) - hmmm, now there's a thought, but as MOTR said - FLM first.

    Posted: 02/03/2006 at 15:55

    I think I may HAVE to do this, 2 days before my birthday, so a good reason to celebrate running 26.2 miles AND a birthday!!!
    Posted: 02/03/2006 at 20:34

    Once again I will be at Abingdon, plus a group from my running club, some doing their first marathon
    Posted: 03/03/2006 at 12:45

    See more comments...
    We'd love you to add a comment! Please login or take half a minute to register as a free member

    Smart Coach
    Free, fully-personalized training plans, designed to suit your racing goals and your lifestyle.