Henley Rugby Club have taken up the baton to run the Henley Half Marathon on Sunday 9 October in partnership with AAT Events after the Henley Rotary Clubs stepped down last month due to the increasing age of their members. As well as the Half Marathon and 10K run they hope to introduce a 5K and family run.
Craig Thornton from AAT Events who organises around 120 running events nationwide each year said, “We’re all pleased that it is back on. The Rotary Club have done a great job over the last 20 years. I think it is a really important event to have for the community and everyone enjoys it. Whilst the numbers have been dwindling I think that’s more because of Covid and the impact of that. It’s really good to be bringing it back and I think people like to support local events. We would hope to get the numbers back up to around 2,000 like the Maidenhead event which has got a good core following. Creating a 5k and a fun run really opens the event up to everyone, any fitness level can take part.”
Chris Nixon, Chair of HRFC said, “We couldn’t have thought about taking this over if we didn’t have Craig. We needed to go into partnership with someone who knew what to do as we don’t know how to organise half marathons ourselves. We’re be looking to draw on the expertise of the Rotary Club too as they’ve run it for such a long time. We’ve spoken to the Borlase Family about using the field next door which is normally used which is great and we hope to create a village feel with stalls and activities for the children to create a bit more of atmosphere. All profits from the event will go to local charities.”
The Half Marathon was originally started by Tony Hobbs who is a founder member of the Henley Rugby Club in 1983 and he ran it with other volunteers from the RNLI charity. Tony said, “A small group of us, all the same age, all packed up rugby and soccer and we got into running. We started going to events. We ran the second London Marathon in 1982 and we decided to organise a Henley Half Marathon. We thought this figure of eight course, going along to Aston and back over the bridge and up to Fawley Hill was a great course, because everybody would see the runners about the 6/7 mile. Running along the river also made it a lovely run.”
Peter Wilkinson from Henley Rotary Club said, “It’s a huge relief to the Rotary Club that a local organisation was prepared to commit to take it over otherwise there would have been no event and that would have been quite sad after so long. We could make ourselves available to volunteer to marshall but we couldn’t do the heavy lifting any more. We’d be happy to help and keep the link going.”
Deputy Mayor, Councillor, Michelle Thomas said, “I think Henley Town Council and all the Councillors and staff agree that it is a really important event for the town. I personally am a big champion of competitive sports. It’s good for keeping fit, good for your mental health, good for physicality. I’m particular keen to and excited to hear that they will be launching a fun run for children.”
AAT Events hope to be able to launch the website soon so that runners can register. We will announce this as soon as it is available.