MORE than 1,000 runners took part in the Marlow Half Marathon this morning, with a mum-of-two and a PhD student taking the honours.

Runners travelled from as far as Dublin and Dunfermline to take on the notoriously hilly course, with newcomer Matt Hawcroft crossing the line first in a time of 1 hour, 12 minutes and 25 seconds.

The familiar face of Samantha Amend took the women's title for the third year in a row, with a personal best of 1 hour, 22 minutes and 2 seconds.

Hawcroft, 30, crossed the line way ahead of the pack and said: “I won the half marathon in Henley last month but this was a much tougher course...It's kind of relentless.

“Enjoy is never the word but actually to run that time on that course is all right.”

The Bromsgrove and Redditch runner recently moved to Henley and is currently working on a PhD in climate science.

Amend, 32, who lives in Marlow Bottom, said: “It's a personal best for this course and I got one last week as well in the Frankfurt Marathon.

“I had a bit of an ankle injury but just focused on the race and knuckled down. The conditions were good and I enjoyed it, though the second hill always gets me.”

The Belgrave Harrier was cheered on by son Spencer, three, and daughter Emily, nine.

Annie Baumber was the second fastest woman, with Mg Spalton third. Second and third quickest of the men were Fernando Del Valle and Hajime Ohsawa respectively.

It was the town's 22nd half marathon, organised by the Marlow Striders, with the 13.1 mile course finishing at Sir William Borlase’s Grammar School. About 1,250 runners entered the race.

David Freeman, of the Striders, said the money raised will go towards Marlow Playgroup and Marlow Sports Club. The British Legion Poppy Appeal will also receive £1 of every entry fee.

He thanked members of the Striders, who are not allowed to take part in the race but give up their time to help organise and marshal the event.

The club meets at Marlow Sports Club on Tuesday and Thursday evenings at 7pm.