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
In short: AS good as ever. Drinks station seemed a bit late, around 7K? A chip event, but online results only gave gun times.Chip times were printed up after the event forr display. Date of review: September 17, 2014
In short: fantastic party atmosphere, In full: I have never seen so many smiling faces, a race to appreciate your PW and be proud of making the most of the social atmosphere. Feed stations were amazing, great selection of food and wine. Huge thanks to all the Event Support Crew who made the day such a wonderful event. Date of review: September 17, 2014
In short: Hard course but fun and friendly but most of all SPECTACULAR scenery In full: This race has to be one of the most special and I cant believe that of 400 who signed up 50+ didnt start. It has the most spectacular scenery for pretty much the entire 26 miles, it has a real balance of elite runners and those running for personal satisfaction - wouldnt call them fun runners, this is no run for rhino suits or fancy dress! There is an informal atmosphere that makes it special, the marshals are all terrific it feels like a proper community of runners have achieved something special whether it took 3 or 7 hours. Im very proud to have run it and would recommend anyone to try it - but beware: it's motto of "more than just a marathon" is well deserved and as a fellow runner commented "erm, 'a bit hilly' doesnt really do it justice." Miles 21-24 non stop climb really can do you in (9 & 16 aren't strolls in the park either!) Date of review: September 17, 2014
In full: Great day! Well organised, friendly runners, spectators and local people as well as amazing views made the miles fly by. Highly recommend this race, reminded me what all the miles and early mornings of training are about!Thanks to everyone who marshalled or turned out to encourage, great goody bag at the end too! Date of review: September 17, 2014
In short: Fantastically organised, stunningly beautiful race In full: Loved, loved, loved this race! The organisation was exceptional, really cheerful marshalls not just out on the course, but at the start and finish areas too. Despite being a mostly off road course, it was really well marked and I think near on impossible to get lost. Where there were crowds gathered on the way round, the support was brilliant, really loud and enthusiastic, obviously spaced out on this kind of course, so when you did see them, it gave you a huge lift. I thought the goody bag at the finish was very impressive, and loved the ice cream too. Will definitely be back. Date of review: September 17, 2014
In short: My absolute favourite race! In full: The Purbeck Marathon just gets better year on year. Superbly organised, the friendliest marshals ever, glorious scenery and their own beer in the goody bag - how cool is that!!! See you next year! Date of review: September 17, 2014
In short: Fabulous scenery and a wonderful atmosphere - despite the wind and rain! In full: Torrential overnight rain made conditions very tricky for the first couple of miles out of town. I opted for the half and there was a good field. Stunning views over Salisbury as you head out and then the additional pleasure of running through country estates closed to the public the rest of the year. The finish past the Cathedral was really memorable as well. A great race for a great cause - I will definitely be back next year (and maybe I will have trained enough to complete the marathon). Date of review: September 17, 2014
In short: My second time at this glorious run and just as enjoyable. I love the scenery and the fact that you can see the whole route ahead of you from about a third of the way round . Date of review: September 17, 2014
In short: Fab run , great atmosphere and organization !! In full: Definately one to do challenging at one point but fairly steady running the rest , nice people very friendly and all made perfect with glorious weather :-) nice pub for sausage and mash afterwards and a nice drink and chat post race ! Date of review: September 17, 2014
In short: A fantastic event very well organised with plenty of friendly people In full: This was my first marathon and although a difficult route it provided scenery that took your mind off the pain in your legs! Everyone one involved from the organisers, runners and spectators (even the people just out walking that had nothing to do with the race) were encouraging and I truly look forward to competing again and trying to improve my time. Thank you to all involved with the event for making my first marathon such a great experience. Date of review: September 17, 2014