ROYAL WINDSOR HALF MARATHON RIVER TRAIL RUN - THE COURSE
The Story of The Royal Windsor Half Marathon River Trail Run
The trail run begins along the River Thames at the foot of Windsor Castle. Originally constructed in the 11th century by William the Conqueror, the castle has been lived in by reigning monarchs ever since, and provides one of the most spectacular and iconic historic backdrops in England.
The half marathon then meanders its way upstream taking in classic River Thames scenery. It passes Windsor Horse Race Course, where in 2012 Richard Hughes became the second jockey ever to achieve 7 wins in one day at a UK meet, to reach the quintessential Boveney Lock. Known to date back to an old fishery in 1201, Boveney is one of the busiest and most photographed locks on the River Thames.
A little further upstream Boveney meets the 12th century chapel of St Mary Magdalene. Sitting in splendid isolation, just a few yards from the towpath, the church originally served the wharf workers from the thriving Windsor Forest timber trade. Now it offers a few services throughout the year including Christmas Carols by Candlelight, although visits are available on request via the Boveney Lock Keeper.
Next you pass the Oakley Court Hotel, one of England’s finest country houses, an unrivalled place to stay, relax and watch the Thames-side world go by.
Keeping on upstream, is the eighteenth century Down Place, later converted into Bray Film Studios, famous for 107 productions including the Rocky Horror Show and Dracula, Prince of Darkness blockbusters.
From British Hollywood to London 2012 is Dorney Lake, the summer Olympic venue for rowing and kayaking. Still providing training and racing facilities to international teams, feel inspired as you race in the wake of some of the world’s most talented athletes and gold medal winners.
About 5 miles into the run you may have worked up an appetite! Fortunately, you have reached the charming 15th century village of Bray. Renowned for its Michelin Star dining with Heston Blumenthal’s Fat Duck and Hindshead, alongside the Roux Brothers’ Waterside Inn, Bray holds a formidable culinary reputation that is famous throughout the world of gastronomy.
At almost half way round the course you start to get a view of the famous Sounding Arch. The Maidenhead Railway Bridge completed in 1838, was designed by Great Western's engineer, Isambard Kingdom Brunel. At the time the bridge had the largest and flattest brick spanning arches in the world. It was nicknamed Sounding Arch due to its great echoes.
Once past the Sounding Arch, before reaching the Maidenhead River Bridge, you turn right to pass over a small bridge opening out onto the Jubilee River. Now, running back towards Windsor, you have approximately reached the halfway point of the course.
The Jubilee is traffic free, and built at a £110m cost to prevent flooding in the area is Europe’s second largest man-made river project. With protected nature reserves providing habitat to many species of birds the next few miles are within wetland surroundings.
In the final miles, with only a couple of roads to cross over, Windsor Castle can be glimpsed, sitting high on the hill in the distance. To the left are the tall chimneys of the Mars Chocolate Factory. On reaching mile 11 the spires and buildings of Eton College, where many of Great Britain’s Prime Ministers and successful entrepreneurs were schooled can be seen.
In the final approach returning to Windsor & Eton, the castle gets nearer and nearer. Fortunately the finish is 500m before the castle gates and you do not have to run up the steep hill through the Centre of Windsor for your finishers medal!
Congratulations you have completed the Royal Windsor Half Marathon River Trail Run!