In short: Took mixed abilities group from club and all loved it! In full: We took a mix of runners from sub 40 minute runners to beginners doing their first 10k and everyone loved it. The whole experience was excellent with great support for fast runners and beginners alike! We'll be back in 2014. Date of review: September 19, 2014
In short: Good overall but bottleneck trying to leave took the shine off it In full: Organisation was good up to trying to depart Musselburgh racecourse when, due to race configuration meaning road closures whilst stragglers came in, it took an hour and three quarters to get out of the car park and I was relatively towards the front. Didn't understand need for point to point race when seemingly could have been a round trip from the race course. Made getting to start and from finish a hassle which detracted from an otherwise good event. Also, booked a parking ticket online, paid £5 for it and it never arrived in the post as it should have. Still hasn't arrived nearly three weeks later! Date of review: September 18, 2014
In short: My first marathon. In full: I chose it because its a local race and had brilliant reviews. Really enjoyed it, smiled most of the way round. The marshals were amazing, however, I wont be able to eat a jelly baby for a while! Date of review: September 18, 2014
In short: First Half Marathon of the Autumn In full: Ran this race for the first time in 2014. Getting to it is easy if you live north of Cheltenham, however if your arriving from the south like me, take the M5 and turn off at the Cheltenham/Gloucester junction. However take a good navigator as there aren't much in the way of directions. Parking at the racetrack was free, half mile walk to the start. Not enough portacabins - queues were so big I thought the race may start before I could get there! Route went through Cheltenham, lots of support through there. Anyone who shops in Cheltenham will know how reckless the drivers are in the town but don't worry, as the roads are closed. Some great support from the kids of Dean Close School which the route goes round. Going back through Cheltenham we had a long straight run out of the other side of town towards Cleeve Hill (but it doesn't go up it), where a stand were handing out energy drinks - unfortunately a lot of other runners must have spilled theirs as my shoes were sticking to the road!! Running round the racetrack was exciting until you see it. You're looking from the top of a hill at 10 miles and you can see how far you have to go, and think "surely that's more than two miles!!" Worse than that, the hill you run down to join the track, you have to run back up afterwards! Nice medal and great goody bag at the end though, with a banana. Photos taken by Sportcam, but their aim seems to have suffered a little recently, however they were stretched as they had to photograph the Chippenham Half the same day Date of review: September 18, 2014
In short: Mostly off road in a beautiful setting. Really enjoyable run with a friendly atmosphere. In full: Very enjoyable course, beautiful weather last year made for uplifting views with autumnal colours. Marks the weekend of the famous Nottingham Goose Fair. Great way to start the autumn season. Date of review: September 18, 2014
In short: Always a great atmosphere In full: Good for all types of runners and walkers. Not elitist and you never get the feeling you shouldn't be there. Toilet queues were ridiculous especially as one bank of toilets weren't being used for some reason. We asked the marshall but he didn't know why they were locked and didn't try to find out. They got my timing wrong initially but soon sorted that out when I contacted them. However everything else was excellent and I especially loved the t-shirt this time. Date of review: September 18, 2014
In short: Tough but made so worthwhile by the organisers and marshals In full: Well organised from start to finish. This event doesn't have the signs of a commercial ("in it for the money") feel but a warm and most enjoyable run; organised by runners for runners. The water stations were brilliant and all the volunteers generous with their support and encouragement. Thank you to one and all who made it such fun! Date of review: September 18, 2014
In short: Good race with just a couple of niggles that could be ironed out In full: First time running this. The start area is great as it's in the Town Centre at the pub so there are plenty of good toilets, water and places to get a pre-race coffeee (or snack!).
The course itself is ok, with it mostly flat but with a couple of killer hills dotted in to keep you on your toes. Generally, it's pretty scenic although a few bits have you running through industrial estates and support is mixed with a fair bit at start and finish but only smatterings on the way round.
It's reasonable value for money as you get a technical T-Shirt, and a solid metal medal. Unfortuantely the medal is a generic one for the event organising company, rather than being race specific. Also there was no goodie bag and the finish had just a (small) bottle of water and no snacks, when I would have hoped for at least a banana.
You do also get a free finish line digital photo, which sounds good but they only have a photographer on one side of the finish gate so my photo is of two people I don't know who were between me and the camera. It would be better to have 2 snappers so you can cover more people.
Overall, it was a good quiet Sunday morning race and well worth doing as it was fairly local to me. Free parking at the finish was also good. Date of review: September 18, 2014
In short: Expensive walking event with runners added as anafterthought In full: Reluctantly entered this chasing 2 UTMB points. Not one I would do again although I met some lovely runners. There are far better value events for ultra runners elsewhere.
Pre-race information was unnecessarily long. You kept on having to go back and forth between different documents and emails.
Finding the start was tricky if you were being dropped off by car from the Fulham end of the park. A map of the start on the Getting There section would easily solve this.
All other events manage with name only but for this you need to take your e-ticket. On registration you were given a silicon band saying Thames Path Challenge (just a bit of marketing tat – already binned). In addition to your bib (which did not ask for emergency contact number in the back) you had to wear a ridiculous pass on a lanyard. Imagine taking your office pass on an ultra and you get the idea except these were sharp cornered plastic. The Route Map is a booklet complete with ads for future challenges and full of QR codes. The faster runners do not carry packs so where are you supposed to put all this stuff? Why can’t the QR code on the pass be part of your bib like in any other event?
There were less than 200 runners doing the 100km so the start area felt huge. Lots of portaloos, covered seating area, free tea and coffee. The PA system failed but not being able to hear the guy in the fake navy uniform might have been a blessing. The runners start ahead of the walkers at 7am so no bunching and you are clear of the London sections before they get busy. You do have to watch the boathouses though. Rowing boats have very sharp pointy bits.
If you use all the feed stations you will do considerably more than 100km as some are quite a way from the path. I had support so can’t really comment on the drop bag system. They use High5 drink and gels at feed stations. Plenty of loos and covered and outside seating. However, everything was very spread out. I had support so mostly avoided the extra walk to the food tents. I would have loved some noodle soup but the food was more suitable for walkers (burgers, lettuce). They did have peanut butter sandwiches and bananas though.
Up to 50km the course was quiet but there were some runners to team up with. From 50km it got very very quiet. The area around Bray was deserted. Not even dog walkers or cyclists. After 75km I started to see groups of 50km walkers but I was very glad I had a pacer for the last 12km.
The distance markers every km are great and on the whole the signage was good but with some glaring gaps. Several 25km runners missed the ‘short cut’ to the first rest stop and ran 28km instead. In Maidenhead the signs were there but easy to miss. There were not enough signs in the village in Cookham. The signs completely disappeared in the middle of Marlow. I finished in the dark and did not see glow sticks on the path. My pacer navigated in Henley which was very busy on a Saturday night.
The course does not require trail shoes. It was muddy early on due to the high tide but only a thin layer over tarmac. It is mostly tarmac with a few gravel path sections. It is flat but with plenty of steps at bridges and lock gates to break your rhythm. The fastest male did it in 8h53m. First woman in 10h30m.
I still cannot face alcohol due to the glass of bubbly on offer at the finish. I did not touch it but just the thought of cheap bubbly in a plastic flute after 12 hours of energy drinks and gels makes me queasy. The coconut water was very welcome but the food was greasy, heavy and no soup! I saw another runner attempt to eat a sausage sandwich. He managed 2 mouthfuls.
They don’t publish results on the website. The results are by bib number. No male/female/age categories. You have to scan your pass at Rest stops but they manage not to use this information for time splits. It is a ‘challenge’ not a ‘race’ you see. The medal is OK but nothing special and everybody gets the same finishers T-shirt. I didn’t bother with something that can be earned by walking 25km and is a grey shapeless thing.
Action Challenge staff are PR focused and clearly have no idea what it takes to run 100km. The 12.5km between feed stations may sound great on paper but it is a long way towards the end. If they wasted less money on lavish gazebos they could provide soup and maybe some intermediate water stations. Marshalls on the busy road crossings would be sensible too.
In short: Great race In full: Having done this race before. I knew what to expect. It’s one of the most picturesque races I've ever competed in, with other good points being that it is one of the quickest half marathons in Wales. The bad points in this year’s race was the start, as it seemed a little disorganised, as no one really knew what was going on. There were pens (time signs at the side of the road), which most people ignored and most of us couldn’t really hear the start. If they could only find a better way to start, then this race would be almost perfect. Date of review: September 17, 2014
In short: Hilly, hilly, hilly and then more hills. In full: Enjoyed this a lot. Be prepared for lots of hills, a couple just last forever and are relentless. Train well and enjoy the day. The start was a little strange, we weren't sure where the start line was!The course is lovely, though there was a lack of signage in a few places. Possibly the pixies stole the arrows? The locals came out in support with sweets and cheers, all the marshals were fab. Nice medal, fab shoulder bag and shirt, beer, pot of I've cream all in all great value. Hoody however was not up to expectation. There was a cheap version and a deluxe, I bought two deluxe. When I went to collect I only had one waiting and spent a while trying to prove I paid for two. Then I got them and the 'deluxe embroidered' hoody felt a bit cheap and has a massive iron on transfer as the main back design, it's only embroidered on the front and arms. Still, very happy overall. Will look back on the day fondly and I wouldn't hesitate to recommend it.
Train well and don't buy a hoody. That''s my plan next time! Date of review: September 17, 2014
In short: A challenging course with some amazing scenery. Excellent organisation. Thanks to the marshalls and people manning the drinks stations. One of my favourite half marathons. Date of review: September 17, 2014
In short: Definitely one to do at least once in a lifetime. Beautiful and such a warm vibe to it. In full: Really well organised, with the magic ingredient of genuine warmth and pride in the event. Some lovely touches.. And all really good value. I am a reasonably seasoned trail runner now but this one was super special. Will sell out fast next year Date of review: September 17, 2014
In short: Best Half for sure - Always the highlight of the year - A must do for everyone In full: Yet again, the best race of the season, where to start? The fantastic organisational skills of www.eventstolive.co.uk of course, thank you! What a brilliant party atmosphere, hilarious fancy dress and comradery of the participants. Magnificent array of wine, water, juice, sweets, crisps, chocolates at each food station. The pipers, the steel-band and the pirates at some of the stations. The fact that Alan (the organiser dressed as wonder woman who'd shaved his legs to raise even more money for the chosen charity - Princess Alice Hospice) was there to shake every finishers hand. The slick finish, with medal, tech t-shirt, further cakes, fruit, tea and coffee before the awesome www.finefettle.org massages and the hog roast and beer/wine. Pre and post race activities included DJ David Dodd (who helped me find my lost boys),face painting, hook a duck, space hopper races, tombola and even an al fresco spin studio! Guess I should mention the run itself, the stunning scenery, tough (some say brutal) hills, fantastic views. It really is that good, the only downside being that it is becoming so popular there are a few bottlenecks along the route where we came to a complete standstill, not so good for the serious runners. I have been reliably informed that the organisers have the in hand and are looking at penning the runners at the start splitting according to anticipated finishing times. Thank you one and all, see you next year. Date of review: September 17, 2014