The Serpentine Handicap
The Serpentine handicap is a race of 6,975 metres (4.334 miles) which is a course of twice round the Serpentine and Long Water, starting and finishing near the boathouse. Occasionally, work and events in the Royal Parks cause the route to be modified e.g. in December and January because of Winter Wonderland.
Unlike other road races you may have taken part in, the start of the handicap is staggered according to individuals' past performances, so that all runners finish the race at about the same time. If all goes well, there is an exciting finish down the final straight. The race rewards not the fastest runner but the runner who performs best relative to their previous performance.
The history of the handicap and explanation of the handicap system make interesting reading. The Tom Hogshead Trophy is awarded at the end of the year (you can see past winners using the links on the right of this page). The Stratford Cup is presented to the handicap runner who achieves the highest average age-grading in the Handicap over six races in each calendar year, beginning in 2015. The results of the handicap are published on the Serpentine website. You can also see the handicap course records.
Registration and race timings
The handicap is held on the first Saturday of each month. Registration takes place from 8.15am at the Boathouse, as shown on the map below, and is strictly limited to the first 100 entries. No entries will be accepted after 8.55am. New runners should arrive by 8.30am to allow for a pre-race briefing. There are toilets opposite that may be used for changing but note that you may not change in the toilets at the Serpentine Bar and Kitchen Café. The nearest tube stations are Knightsbridge and Hyde Park Corner.
The Handicap Team
The handicap is for members of the Serpentine Running Club only. If you are not a member you can join online, but note that you must have joined by the Wednesday preceding a race.
The organisers at their discretion may change a competitor's start time if they believe it does not accurately reflect the runner's ability. Any runner suspected of intentionally performing below their ability in order to skew results may be disqualified from the handicap competition.
Finally, please note that we do not allow runners to wear headphones while competing in the race, as runners need to be able to hear marshal's instructions and/or vehicles approaching from behind. Anyone who fails to comply with race rules risks being disqualified.