In short: Hell is made of hills! In full: Beginners need to be aware of the hills in this, as I think quite a few people may find it very difficult as a first race. I would say four notable hills not just a mild incline, where two of them are manageable for all, one for most and one totally ridiculous. Heartbreak hill at 11.5 miles is unbelievable.
Aside from this the only other real things that could be improved would be the lining up of people and taking in more of the surrounding countryside (if possible) as part of the route.
When lining up for the horn, most people are trying to get to the front because of the time-based medals, as it is based on gun time not chip time. Luckily I wasn't one of the few people who received a bronze medal based on their gun time, but would have received silver if based on chip time. It would have really annoyed me! The route goes through all of the different estates and townships of Stoke which in parts are nice, but mostly not nice to look at, so going out in the countryside, like Stafford half marathon does, would be welcomed by most, I would imagine.
These are only minor things to help improve a decent race. There was a good amount of people for the course - not squashed like with some of the larger field races. The organisation was good and no real issues.
The major issue, I found, was with water stations, as I did not see/there was no warning of it coming up, so people had to cut each other up. Also, only 3 are advertised, which for a potentially warm June HM is a bit silly. Water stations did not seem to be where they were stated to be. This made it difficult to gauge when to pick up a drink and when not to.
Lovely supporting and cheering locals were out in force and made the run more interesting. They were giving out sweets and drinks as well.
Parking and facilities were easy to find, although the attendant in the shopping centre toilet was moaning about all these runners using the toilets continuously which I thought was unfair. People weren't causing hassle or nuisance to him and he made himself look like a miserable jobsworth.
The goody bag was brilliant - one of the best I have had, receiving a t-shirt, fancy time-based medal, commemorative plate and some food and drink. Date of review: June 28, 2015
In short: beautiful and brutal.well worthy of all the accolades! In full: After doing the syding 10k last year which was tough for a 10k i had to step up and do the number 1 uk marathon this year.the profile shows 10 mountainous hills and this didnt dissapoint.not a fan of hills but a huge fan of WSR races and the organisation is top notch and great value.lovely marshalls and lots of water stops and feed stations in the lovely dorset countryside.village feel to a race which attracts runners of all abilities.should be on everyones bucket list and to get a buff,tech tshirt and a very unique and rude naked giant medal ticks all the boxs.next year the willy spins on the medal i hear!looking forward to 2016!keep up the good work Andy and the team Date of review: June 28, 2015
In short: Fantastic challenging run with glorious views! In full: The hills were relentless, but the views were gorgeous. The aid stations were plenty stocked with friendly marshals. Such a lovely relaxed atmosphere of all the finishers chilling on the grass of the beautiful village in the sun by the finish, clapping the latest finishers in. Great medal, top and buff. Camping was close by and showers warm. Barn dance was a laugh in the evening. A definite race to do, fantastic weekend, and I'll definitely be back! Date of review: June 28, 2015
In short: The best organised event - EVER In full: They have thought of everything at this event - phased starts so phased registration / plenty of toilets / pre race free water /organised pre race warm ups / pre race briefings / good well signed course with both kilometre & mileage markers / great event village with things to occupy supporters with families/ quality food & drink available/ great good bag with medal - T shirt etc etc oh and the race, great course which is testing but scenic. I cannot prior this enough Date of review: June 28, 2015
In short: good midweek race In full: first time doing this event lots of changes of directon plenty of enthusiastic marshalls nice finish on the grass & a nice mug well worth doing Date of review: June 27, 2015
In short: Absolutely brilliant, in every way! In full: This was my 3rd South Downs half-marathon this year, and I keep going back for more, such is the scenery, the welcome, the organisation and friendliness all round. I ran the full marathon back in 2011, which I thoroughly enjoyed but, unfortunately, I don't have sufficient time to train for marathons. I was mighty happy when the half-marathon was introduced in 2012. I can highly recommend both, especially if you like to run on trails and enjoy some stunning scenery. Well done everyone at 2:09 - you're simply great!
In short: So glad I did it! In full: Do not leave it until the last minute to register or you might miss it. It does sell out. Great (but tough) course with some cheeky hills. Loved the end, all down hill! :-) Genuinely supportive marshals. Great cakes at the end and all for a good cause (St Christopher's). Will definitely do it again! Date of review: June 25, 2015
In short: A Tough Mid-week hilly challenge In full: Its Malvern, which means its hills! This is not the ideal first race for anyone but there is a nice atmosphere about the Malvern Joggers and the race as a whole. They made mistakes this year with the results, I was missed out somehow, i have heard they're looking into chip timing next year (they have listened and learned). Its a good race for a training run but i didnt push it. Maybe also bring back medals? a lot of people werent happy with a tea towel! Doesnt bother me as medals just get slung in a drawer but they could be a thought. As for the curry, dont do it if you cant feed everyone, its a great idea but not so great in practice. Date of review: June 25, 2015
In short: Tea-towel and no curry! In full: Lovely area to run. Very challenging, but a good course if you want to race hard or take it easy. Didn't like the tea-towel, but can't grumble for £8....except that for a 2nd time, I did not get to experience the curry due to running out of the stuff. Had to go to pub up the road for my tea instead. Shame. Date of review: June 25, 2015
In short: Chip Timing failed at the event... In full: Nice location inside a scenic park, with a well organised team - registration, baggage, marshals, water stations, medals/goody bag distributors.
Route was nice, but there were some really narrow bits at times.
The chip timing for the majority of runners failed, first leading to chip timing team (Sports Systems) trying to pass off the gun time as the chip time, then leading to them providing an approx. chip time (using a guess of when you might have crossed the start line, to give you your chip time). Chip timing is quite important especially if you are going for a PB, so wouldn't risk doing this event again. Date of review: June 24, 2015
In short: 69 miles is always going to be tough, but thoroughly enjoyed In full: Great organisation overall. Some v supportive marshals.Stayed in dorms at the castle start for night before-was petrified about this (there as lone woman runner!), but ended up being a perfect plan and was great to meet ppl b4 race. Scenery on hills etc was lovely, and nice to see the wall, but was more of a road/tarmac-based run than I'd hoped for. My longest run to date, so am always going to think fondly of it. This year's alternative Finish Village was great when you got there, but the hanging around waiting for the minibus when you've run 69 miles and need the loo and think you may throw up was hard. Date of review: June 24, 2015
In short: Well organised road Ultra In full: This year, only the one-day option was available, and this was superbly organised. Route was well signed, Marshalls helpful and enthusiastic and the pit shops well stocked. The big hill past Vindolanda was gone this year, and the really should be thought of a road ultra, with the majority on tarmac or unmetalled road. As mentioned by others, coming into Newcastle on Saturday night is special, as is the final crossing of the millennium bridge Date of review: June 24, 2015