I’ve read some lovely reviews of races but not too many previews before the event. I’m not running this year (I’ve only run it once if I’m honest) but its a cracking little country half and worth a trip round the course.
Start in Cassiobury Park. It’s walking distance form Watford Tube at the end of the Met line. Stretch your legs with a gentle downhill then off round a housing estate. All flat, wide streets for 3 miles.
The Grove Mill Lane stretch for the next 2 miles introduces some gentle hills but you’ll be pleasantly distracted by the golfers at The Grove (who will have paid £180 for a round) on your right. Tiger Woods played there for the Amex World Championships in 2006. They had to put a net up at the back of the practice range (which you’ll pass at mile 4) as his long shots were going over the road.
Sharp left, over the M25 and down into “The Ditch” a short steep drop down Old House Lane followed by an equally steep half-mile climb past the Great Westwood Equestrian Centre (lovely house on your right behind the gates), right into Bucks Hill (which is not really a hill at all) and on, slightly upwards, to mile 7.
The halfway point is marked by two noteworthy establishments: i. The Coach and Horses, one of my locals and ii) an extraordinary Tudor building which was actually built from reclaimed materials between 1913 and 1932 for David Allen, a printer from Belfast. It’s flats now.
Flat out down to Bottom Lane along for a mile then if you have any puff left up Toms Hill. Now that is a hill. It crests at Mile 9 and slopes off to The Clarendon, about the priciest pub in England. You then enter the delightful Blackets Wood stage followed by the equally delightful Whippendell Wood on a single track road taking you to mile 11.
From here you are back in suburbia through onto the Watford Road and back into Cassiobury Park. Save some puff for Cassiobury Park Ave – you feel the rise in the road as your legs start to melt even though you know the finish line is only yards away. But raise your arms like a homecoming hero(ine) as you re-enter the park – that medal is nearly yours.
Its not a course for a PB but its a pretty route and its well marshalled with several water stops. let me know if you’re running – I’ll be there with a camera I expect.