History of the Race
The idea of having a major road running event in Reading was conceived way back in 1982 and there was a lot of discussion as to whether the event should be the half marathon, a new event at that time, or the traditional long established full marathon distance. The shorter distance was wisely chosen and a route around the town had to be found. The first race started and finished at Reading University, Whiteknights Park. As soon as the race was launched in November 1982, the entries flooded in and there was a huge turn out, far greater than expected, for the first race on Sunday 13th March 1983.
The race became famous for introducing wheelchair athletes into a road race and helped to get the London Marathon to accept them later that year.
The race remained at the University for three years before moving to the South Reading Leisure Centre (the current start) where it started and finished until 1990 before moving to Rivermead beside the Thames.
From the early days the race has attracted huge numbers and has remained one of the top events of its type in the country. It has also attracted many top athletes and there have been many overseas winners, especially in the last few years.
In 2003, the management of the race was taken over by Sweatshop, with an entry of nearly 10,000 and ‘Championchip’ timing used for the first time at Reading. 2004 and 2005 saw major changes to the race with a new faster and flatter course, starting at the South Reading Leisure Centre and finishing inside the Madejski Stadium. The race was also the fastest legal UK half marathon in both these years.
For 2006, the course was further improved and the start moved to Green Park, 250m from the race site at the Madejski Stadium. This course is potentially faster than the 2005 route but a tactical front race resulted in a slower winning time, however the wheelchair race resulted in the course record being smashed by 6 minutes and the record stands at 45.59. The finish line is in front of the stadium crowds, which has seating for approximately 8000 people.