In short: Marshals where fab! In full: This is a local race for me and my it was cold - a minus 6 start!!! Great area to wait in pre race and keep warm before we were all encouraged to the start line. I am writing this really to commend all the marshals and supporters for all their encouragement on the course. This was much appreciated! An undulating route with some great countryside views. Like the finishers t shirt too. My only complaint Is post race - did I miss out on a hot drink after? What a great idea. Would have loved. 4th time doing this and never knew! Thanks to St Albans Striders - a very well organised race. Date of review: January 24, 2017
In short: A few teething problems for a first run of the event, but overall not bad In full: I really enjoyed the race yesterday even though it was freezing. I didn't get a PB, but wasn't far off and it was the fastest time in a few years so was pretty chuffed. The route is OK with the country lane and trail/river sections being most notable.
With the ground being frozen yesterday, the trail and river sections were just a little slippery with the odd quick change of footing being required. Had it been a little warmer and raining these sections would be safest navigated with a pair of trail shoes on. It was also difficult to pass on these sections so one slow runner could hold up the whole pack.
The cobbled sections weren't great on the feet yesterday, but again had it rained these could have been trickier and might be easy to fall on.
The toilet facilities were insufficient, and the fact that they did not flush did not make for a pleasant experience.
The start coral did not appear to have any expected time markings and as the pacemakers only turned up shortly before the off there was no really order to the start pace.
I'm sounding a little negative here, but I will most likely do it next year as I really quite enjoyed the arctic conditions! Date of review: January 23, 2017
In short: Some teething troubles, but a very enjoyable race In full: It was COLD before the start, but once the sun broke through it was a glorious day for running. The route was pretty flat, although multiple loops over cobbles at the start did my ankle no good! Most of the route was in urban countryside, with some wonderful sections through trees. The closed-road sections were especially welcome.
The off-road bits were nice, although the second section leading to the canal was quite treacherous - icy in patches, uneven and frozen solid, and only single file, with no opportunity to adjust one's step due to runners in front and behind. It may be worth reconsidering this section.
The canal section was a wonderful spot for a training run, but less so for 1600 runners: narrow (again, often single file), especially with other users of the toepath (some of whom were unhappy about sharing the path).
There was one patch of proper ice on the road just after the canal. Thankfully the field was pretty thinned out by then, so people could see it and avoid it, but that could have been cordoned-off better on the day. Thankfully, the contents of discarded bottles after the regular water stations didn't freeze, or there could have been carnage!
1. The toilets were frozen, so didn't flush. Pre-race loos are grim at the best of times, but these were awful. The suppliers could have cleaned them during the race at least. There didn't seem to be enough cubicles, and a urinal could have helped with the queues. A solution for frozen flushes needs to be found for next time: it's mid-January and cold weather is not unheard of.
2. The start pen was poorly planned. There was no indication of where to stand, or what finish times should stand where. It was only after an announcement ten minutes before the race start that anyone stood where they were supposed to, and even by then, the pace-makers and their flags were nowhere to be seen. The result was a densely-packed mess of slow and fast runners trying to negotiate narrow twisting roads, with cobbles, kerbs and crowds, which didn't settle down until mile 3. If the pacemaker flags (or duplicates) were visible at the start pen, say, 15-20 minutes (or even longer) ahead of the gun, the start pen would have been much better organised, and the runners would have set off far more smoothly.
However, these are all teething problems for a new race, and can be simply resolved.
I had a great time, was thoroughly pleased with my time (and medal), and will definitely look at this race again in coming years. Date of review: January 23, 2017
In short: A staple in the run up to VLM. But niggles In full: Good points, Race HQ warm and inviting. T-shift and banana at finish. Close to home (for me). Niggles, I think not being allowed a coffee at the start (Volunteers only) set me off in a grump and then when returned seemed difficult to get one. (What with milk?) Striders seemed a bit off sorts. Coupled with race director rushing around and nearly knocking over runners on zebra crossing to get to start didn't add to the feeling of a well organized race. However once we've off and into the lanes the race was fine, ice in the cup! and well marshaled. Bit of a scrummage at the finish trying to work out where to go. The race though is saved by the HQ. It has very good changing facilities, if you can know about them and can find them! Its a good race but it needs a bit focus on getting all the bits right as it has all the makings of a fantastic race. Maybe the minus 5 was off putting but happy volunteers equal happy racers.. and return visitors! Date of review: January 23, 2017
In short: Cross country and trail - great fun (when we run...) In full: Good pre-event admin; plenty of parking; good clear instructions at the start; Thunderbirds count down!; well marshalled; sufficient water / jelly baby points; good finish routine. If you are reading this and missed out book it in your diary for 2018 :) Date of review: January 22, 2017
In short: Well organised, proficiently marshalled and very enjoyable. In full: Huge improvement from last year in terms of venue and organisation. Very well marshalled and appreciate their turning out in the cold, frost and fog. Good atmosphere and highly enjoyable. Improvements? Worth considering a graded start next year to avoid congestion in early stages and why, oh why, do folk disregard the no earphones rule? Date of review: January 22, 2017
In short: some teething problems and cold but good course In full: On arrival used the toilet, pretty disgusting as due to the cold the flushes would not work... this really needs looking at for a solution if they are going continue race in Jan. Thought having split tents for sections of numbers good and baggage within as saved big queues after. Course- slightly more elevation gain than expected but definitely nothing hilly... going over and over and over the cobblestones was awful and think that might be why I now have a really sore arch on one foot.. Loved the off road bits... 'Feed stations' should not have been described as such as just water available.. shame high 5 did not supply gels for on course... and finally.... the gantry fell down! hubby and I jumped in to help hold it up... they soon got it back up though and it did not affect any runners... Like I said teething problems that hopefully will be sorted for next year.. I am sure organisers will welcome all feedback positive and negative.. We will probably be back next year.... Loved the medal :) Date of review: January 22, 2017
In short: Fairly fast half with some scenic bits In full: This was the first year of the Farnborough Half so I'm sure things can only get better! I don't want to put anyone off - personally I probably won't run it again due to the weather at this time of year but it's a nice half. I'll explain - in the sun you warmed up but then I was freezing in the shady bit from about 6 miles, so be prepared if it is cold like today! The route loops around the business park quite a lot at the start, which can get tiresome but is good for spectators and gives you a chance to see other runners on the out and back sections. It didn't seem crowded as the roads are quite wide and for a half it's not a huge field (2000). Then you go out to some quite scenic bits (woods and the canal) although there's roads too! The finish was great as once you turn to head back into the start area, it's not far at all - no loops at the finish :-) Other good things: penguin medal (I love penguins!), some nice scenery in parts (Southwood, canal), bottled water (no cups!), reasonable goody bag, no time limit, a fun run 5k during the half marathon for those who can't do a full half, plenty of opportunities to collect race number, good for spectators round the start/finish. Improvements (which may happen in future years!): the toilets were behind the baggage tents and the queues got a bit mixed up! And the number collection on the day was part of the baggage tent too. As it's cold a lot of people arrive close to the start (I did) which puts pressure on facilities...an indoor area available would improve this perhaps. Running past the entrance to the car park in the last mile seemed potentially dangerous. (Big thanks to the marshalls there.) There seemed to be a general shortage of marshalls and volunteers but perhaps word will get out for the future. Many of my friends got pbs or fast times so it seems to be a fast course. The hills are small although it might not seem like that at the time! Definitely worth a go. Date of review: January 22, 2017
In short: Tough, muddy, hilly race but great achievement and lovely marshals In full: My only negative is the £4 per runner for parking. There was 4 of us in one car so we paid £16 which is a bit OTT so should be per car not person (but I know it was the venue. It the race organisers) Date of review: January 18, 2017
In short: A January classic half In full: A perfectly organised race. The route takes in the countryside around Helsby (near Chester) Undulating, but not too challenging, and with some lovely gentle downhill sections to really pick up the speed. Despite being quite a big field (just short of 1600 runners) it keeps the atmosphere and warmth of a club race. My 3rd time of running it, and I cannot recommend it enough Date of review: January 17, 2017
In short: Coming back, year after year In full: Living within 3 miles of the start, this has now become a staple on my calendar to keep me focussed over the winter. A course that has hidden PB potential, weather which can be anything from blustery and wet (this year) to gloriously crisp and sunny, and (most importantly) the friendliest and most efficient race organisation team in Helsby RC. This should be on everyone's January calendar. Best half of the year! Date of review: January 17, 2017
In short: Hello old friend! In full: Not run this one for 5 years after a spell behind the scenes. Thought I should remind myself what it's like as an actual runner. Great race, really well done. Fills a gap in the calendar when there's not much on. Bit of weather - blusters and drizzle - but only what you'd expect in January. Well done Helsby RC! Date of review: January 17, 2017