THOUSANDS of elite, keen and newbie runners will pound the pavements of Oxford in the Virgin Sport half marathon this Sunday.

And The Oxford Mail wants to know why you have decided to take on this gruelling challenge.

So send in your stories, pictures of you in training or carb-loading and even your last minute tips - we want to know how you are getting prepared for the big day.

And while you are busy carb-loading and making last-minute training adjustments, here is the Oxford Mail's guide to everything you need to know about the race:

Want to see what last year's event was like? Check out our picture gallery above.

First up - Race Day Timetable:

With thousands of people making their way to the Race Village on Sunday morning, orgainsers have urged spectators and runners to play journeys.

Here is your timetable: 

  • 7.30AM: Race Village Opens.
  • 8.45AM: Warm-up in Oxford University Parks
  • 9.00AM: Runners moves to the start pens
  • 10.35AM: First finisher expected 
  • 11.15AM: Awards ceremony in Race Village.
  • 1.15PM: Race cut-off time.
  • 2.00PM: Race Village closes.

Getting to the start line [on time hopefully] and road closures:

There will be a number of road closures and diversions in place because of the half marathon. 

The entire length of 25 roads - in the city centre and North Oxford - will be closed from 8am with many more streets partially closed and changed to one-way systems.

Broad Street, Marston Ferry Road, Cherwell Drive and side streets such as Norham Gardens, Belbroughton Road and Bardwell Road will be closed.

North Oxford side streets off Banbury Road will be closed until 1.30pm with roads closer to the start area in Broad Street to remain closed until 2.30pm.

Banbury Road will be closed from St Giles to Marston Ferry Road and beyond to the A40 roundabout.

One-way systems will be implemented in South Parade, Oakthorpe Road and Thorncliffe Road until 12pm.

Event organisers recommend using the city's Park&Ride service if people are travelling by car, due to a lack of parking spaces.

Oxford Mail:

The route:

  • It may be 13.1 miles but it has been suggested half marathon runners will set fast times due to the flat route.
  • The race starts in Broad Street, goes up almost the full length of Banbury Road, before coming back down to the Marston Ferry Road, through Marston and back to the city centre.
  • The event began in 2011 but avoided the city centre - starting and finishing at the Kassam Stadium - until 2015 when a new course that included some of the city’s most historic landmarks proved a hit with runners.

Oxford Mail:

Important runner information:

Race Start: The start line is located on Broad Street in Oxford City centre. There will be volunteers and signage to direct you from the Race Village on the day.

Race Number: Your race number is individual to you and cannot be re-sold or transferred. Please fill in the emergency details on the reverse of your number and remember to bring the safety pins provided in your race pack to secure it to your t-shirt, ensuring it is clearly visible on the front of your t-shirt.

Timing Chip: Your timing chip, which accurately measures your time, is attached to your race number.

Bag Drop: The bag drop is located in the Race Village. In your race pack you will receive a clear plastic kit bag, your race number and an adhesive sticker that matches your race number. Please affix the sticker to the front of your kit bag and use this kit bag for all your belongings on race day. The strip on the bottom of your race number is your claim ticket.

Start pens: Your race number shows the letter of the start pen you have been assigned to, based on your predicted finish time.

Pacers: These guys will be helping runners hit their target times. There’ll be a pacer for every five minutes, from one hours thirty minutes to two hours thirty minutes, as well as pacers helping all runners going at a 'party pace’. All pacers will be wearing bright pacer flags.

Changing facilities: Male and female changing areas will be provided in the Race Village, next to the bag drop marquee. 

Oxford Mail:

And finally - training tips leading up to the big day: 

  • Stick to your training plan and don’t change anything major at this stage.
  • Carb loading. Depending on your fitness level and dietary preferences, you may wish to up your carbs in the days before the race. Many runners increase the amount of good quality carbs to 60-70 per cent of their daily caloric intake.
  • Taper, taper, taper. Again, stick to your training plan and start decreasing the miles. As you approach race day, cut volume by 50-60 per cent. You want to start the race fighting fit.
  • Hydration – drink water frequently in the week before the race so you start the race well hydrated. Have some salts or electrolytes too to prevent over-hydration

But most of all - enjoy it! 

David Lammin will be supporting his dad Nigel as he takes on his first ever half marathon.

The 29-year-old said the duo will be running for Prostate Cancer UK.

Oxford Mail:

David and Nigel Lammin are ready for the big day on Sunday. Picture: David Lammin