OLDHAM’s half marathon, one of the toughest 13.1 mile races in the UK, is set to return this Halloween, after more than three years away.
Returning on Sunday 29 October as the ‘Oldham Halloween Half’, this event presents a worthy challenge to any runner, with the course’s hilly terrain promising to ‘get your pulse racing’.
The route may be gruesome, but it revels in spectacular scenery, the atmosphere is electric and it's an event not to be missed.
Whether you are looking for a new running challenge, you want to raise money for charity, or you’re looking to compete just for fun, anyone aged 17 and over can now sign-up to take part via Oldham Community Leisure's website.
Entry fees start from a competitive £30, with local running groups and clubs able to enter for just £28.
Runners will begin with this year’s half marathon on St Mary's Way in the centre of Oldham, before taking a steady incline up to Grains Bar, where at a whopping 340 metres above sea level, the course reaches its infamous peak.
From here, participants will enjoy breathtaking views of the Saddleworth countryside as they make their way through Delph, Dobcross and Uppermill, before heading on to Grasscroft and Lydgate to begin their return leg.
With one last push through Lees and Glodwick, runners return up St Mary’s Way at the back of Tommyfield Market, where they will be greeted by applauding crowds as they cross the finish line and receive their well-deserved pumpkin-themed medals.
Speaking ahead of the event’s return, Stuart Lockwood, Chief Executive of Oldham Community Leisure, said: “We are delighted to bring the half marathon back to Oldham under its new name, and we are excited to reaffirm this event on the national running calendar.
“Our course is still as challenging as ever – even for the most experienced of runners – but it is an amazing experience for anyone who takes part and that’s what has made this event so popular in the past.
“We have plenty in store on the day to make this a fantastic event for everyone, and we will be announcing more details about this over the coming months but first, we want everyone to start registering to compete so get the date booked in your diary and let the preparation begin.
“I've run it three times already and I hope you can all join me this year as it’s going to be an amazing occasion for the entire town – it’s Halloween too, so I am particularly looking forward to seeing people who are up for racing the course in fancy dress like me!”
Councillor Amanda Chadderton, Leader of Oldham Council, added: “It’s great to welcome back such a popular sporting occasion to our events calendar as it has been sorely missed by many during the pandemic.
“This is exactly the calibre of event we want to see taking place in our town as not only does it give us a chance to showcase our beautiful landscape and the wider borough to visitors, it also gives us the local community an opportunity to be involved and helps to support our local businesses.
“I’m really looking forward to the main event, and I want to take this opportunity to wish everybody the very best of luck with the start of their training.”
Local police officer, Damieon Hartley Pickles BEM, BCAv, has ran Oldham's half marathon event on multiple occasions while pushing a wheelbarrow for charity.
His efforts so far have raised more than £50,000 for local causes including Dr Kershaws and Mahdlo Youth Zone, and when asked about what it means to have this event back in the town, Damieon replied: "It's massive! It's putting Oldham back on the map.
"It's an exciting day and it attracts sportspeople and athletes from all over the country to tackle one of the toughest half marathons on the running calendar."
Sharon Richardson of Moorside Racing Team added: "I'm very excited that it's back, it's a great local event.
"I've ran it several times and it's one of my favourite races. It's a challenging one but I love it."
To enter online, please visit www.oclactive.co.uk
The event previously took place in October 2019 as the ‘Milltown to Moors Half Marathon’ before it was disrupted by the Covid-19 pandemic.
The half marathon has been running in Oldham since 2012 and pulls in hundreds of runners from local charities, businesses, running clubs and residents, with hundreds of residents lined up across the streets of Oldham ready to cheer on each competitor.