In full: Lovely weather on the day made for PB conditions, cool with sunshine and dry for the run. A flat out and back course with a great atmosphere, very good organisation and mass good sense about appropriate starting positions by the runners. Although flat, some of the course required caution with uneven surfaces, a few puddles (recent rain) and some muddy patches. The car park soon filled but there was on-street parking nearby. Fair value considering the organisation involved, with good snacks at the end of the course. Well done organisers for bringing these events (1/2M, full M) about. The pleasure of the event could certainly be diminished by poor weather but as both events were fully subscribed this time, book early for the next ones to be sure of a place at the start. Date of review: November 5, 2014
In full: Yes - The race was started early and i was 'late' Yes - We had to park miles away Yes - The start was too far from the HQ But it has a certain charm.. And the volunteers and the supports were great and fairlands valley park is quite nice. You cannot enter a race in Stevenage and then complain about the scenery. To quote Fawlty Towers 'May I ask what you expected to see out of a Torquay hotel window - Sydney Opera House perhaps.. The Hanging Gardens of Babylon. It was a good course, but a little disappointing we did not finish in the Stadium this year. Didn't collect my t-shirt and medal as HQ was in different direction to the car. Was the t-shirt a proper wicks running one? Date of review: November 5, 2014
In full: Did the 2014 but no box for this. Great scenery too but no drop down box for that either. Really good event with superb medal, great team of friendly marshalls too. Date of review: November 5, 2014
In short: Forgot how tough this one was! In full: did this one last year, didn't remember it being quite so hard. That said the scenery made up for it and the organisation was faultless. Loads of marshalls on the course, 2 water stations and as it was the 10th anniversary we all got a good quality commemorative medal. Nice village atmosphere with added bonus of cakes and beer at the end. In the village hall they announced four people over 75 had entered this race and some were still out on the course. As I went back to my car I passed the 80 year old who was just finishing - amazing. Date of review: November 5, 2014
In short: Views of London befitting of a postcard and a course to keep you interested for 24 hours. In full: The Spitfire Scramble was not my first 24 hour endurance event, having completed the three peaks challenge twice before. However, it was my first 24 hour running event and I wondered how different it might be. It's safe to say that the only comparison would have to be the 24 hour element! This made climbing three mountains seem like child's play!
Having assembled a patched up team of 6 from my running club, Leigh-on-Sea Striders, we set about having a good time over the weekend rather than focussing on any achievements. We set up our own camp area and soaked up the atmosphere during the build-up to the gun. There was enough going on to keep you occupied with a running shop partner, an on-site physio, catering and the brilliant live results area. If that wasn't enough, there was a Tesco five minutes away on foot in case you had forgotten any essentials for the weekend. This was one of the great things about the location; whilst you are minutes from civilisation, the race and event feels completely rural.
Following a detailed safety briefing, the race got underway and the excitement began. After a few hours, naturally people began to settle and quieten down a bit, but the use of spot prizes seemed to keep things revved up and the fastest lap 'Happy Hour' kept people on their toes and freshened things up.
My main concern going into the race was running in the dark, but it must be said that the marshalling remained top notch throughout. The guys and girls standing out in the wilderness in the pitch black deserve much praise; not only for being there, but for also maintaining their positive encouragement at all times. Priceless! I personally managed three laps in the dark and never felt like I would get lost. Plus, it was well worth running in the dark just to see the London skyline lit up as you top the first hill. A stunning sight and difficult to refrain from stopping for a moment to take it in.
The course itself was a good combination of fields, gravel track and woods and was technical enough to keep you interested throughout.
As the race neared its end, the buzz began to build again and I was pleasantly surprised to see how well everyone coped with the lack of sleep and managed to remain cheeerful. The atmosphere as the teams and individuals finished their last laps was among the best I have experienced at an event, with the finishing straight lined with cheering and clapping supporters.
It's worth mentioning the great job that the organiser and his helpers did, especially given the circumstances. Not only was this the inaugural Spitfire Scramble, but the organiser had to disappear in the middle of the night to be at the birth of his child! Thankfully, it was a seemless transition as the rest of the team took over and brought the event to a successful close.
We will definitely be back next year, no doubt. Date of review: November 5, 2014
In short: Beautiful riverside run with friendliest atmosphere In full: The course is really lovely - the path never leaves the river Thames and is pretty all the way. The ground underfoot is mostly trail and although not muddy or slippery I definitely noticed the rough stony ground in places and would invest in some trail shoes for next time (I ran in road shoes this time, which were fine in the dry conditions).
The people running and the organisers were super friendly. The field definitely had a fair sprinkling of 100 marathon clubbers and ultra running types, but I'm a marathon newbie and didn't feel out of place at all. The atmosphere was a such a pleasant contrast to your average corporate city road race.
The path was busy-ish in places with walkers and we co-incided with a rowing regatta so there were boats exiting the river across the path, and coaches on bicycles yelling at their teams. So some weaving in and out was required for a stretch. But I didn't find this particularly onerous.
I've got the next one pencilled in my diary already. Definitely recommended. Date of review: November 5, 2014
In short: FULL MARATHON REVIEW In full: The only good thing about the race were the marshals. They were awesome. The rest? AWFUL. - Poor organisation. No parking close by and i ended up on a side street where my car was scratched. - Medal was one of the worst in my collection. for a 30 year anniversary? You must be kidding me? - Route: I thought MK was bad for underpasses and boring routes... this took the biscuit. - Start: Wait... did we start? I dont know.... everyone just started running. I'm sure lots of people missed the start - Toilets: The Luxury portaloos were nice - aid on route: There was only one aid station by the scouts that had anything other than water (jelly babies and the such). - Finish: On a grass track? I saw lots of people falling over. By the time the marathoners came through it was a quagmire. - distance from HQ to start/finish. Too long. I got very cold and there was noone handing out space blackets or really taking care of you - Refreshments. I did the marathon in 4.26 - by the time i got in and changed and wanting a cup of tea there was nothing available. I got a lukewarm cup of tea. Not ideal. especially when the weather had been as bad as it was
Really disappointed in this race and wont be back. Date of review: November 5, 2014
In short: The Thames has never looked so good In full: Positives: - Great organisation, good atmosphere at the start and finish of the race, nice straight forward course, flat and PB potential, top medal and great price for a London HM
Negatives - congested at the start but soon petered out, lack of mile markers
Overall this is a great race. Would strongly recommend. Date of review: November 4, 2014
In short: Always improving half marathon In full: Nice venue and easy to get to. Lots of side street residential parking if needed. Smooth queue to pick up numbers as long as you split yourself into the surname queue you need. I would say enough toilets and portaloos as YMCA had 3 as well. A small enough event to line yourself up to your pace time but if it got larger then maybe pace signage so runners lined up in their time zones as it can get narrow on some paths near start. A nice flat trail run with some mud as some light rain previous day and 30 mins before 10am start. Road shoes still was fine for surfaces for me but do watch your foot. The aid station were very nicely stocked and are stocked with a range of fuels from fluids to solids but I dont really like to slow down to pick my own cups of water, energy drink, fruit juice, energy gels, jelly babies or flapjacks. I also prefer bottled drinks as I run past, grab and keep hold of. However, for value of money entry fee, I expect cups of water. The aid station by the half way point was a sharp turn around point with the aid station right in front. This particular station I had to completely stop to collect fluid, the 2 runners in front stop right in front of me. I had to stop to look for an energy drink but picked up fruit juice by mistake as I didnt have time to ask the "1" lady manning the station. The runner behind me had crash into me as well. The aid station although well stocked needs to be spaced out to 3-4 tables as it may well get very crowded when runners have to browse for which drink.. which table holds the energy gel... Maybe big sign/cardboard in front saying water , energy drinks, energy gels, fruit juice otherwise you stop and scan around and hold everyone up. They couldnt hand out water at this half way point because tow path was too narrow. This is my only complaint. Way too near turnaround point and both marathon n half marathon runners used this station. I was happy to see nice big medal with relevant neck strap labelling with winter half marathon. But, organisers should have put the year 2014!!! Its great to see medal has improved and different from last years too. Finish line goodies to help yourself to was great. I only took 1 piece of flapjack, 1 cream biscuit, 1 banana. But if i hung around i would have ate more flapjacks as they were yummy. I will be back for the summer one but i hope they organise the aid station better as i do like a isotonic drink but not have to search and wait and ask for it. We want to grab and run on. I recommend this race to all beginners as very race friendly for newbies. I am sure i would have got pb if it was cooler on 2nd half of race, maybe next November will be cooler. Overall nicely organised and I am sure improvements will be made as the organisers do seem interested to improve the race every year and I have seen improvements myself every year and also heard of them word of mouth so kudos to David and Mel. Date of review: November 4, 2014
In short: Great scenic course In full: I ran this last Saturday and despite a poor time, I thoroughly enjoyed it. Great organisation and offerings at water stations, particularly the chocolate brownie and flapjack although I would carry my own liquid next time. The surface didn't warrant trail shoes, but it was uneve and took up a lot of energy. Will be in the calendar for next year as a good location for a weekend not quite in London... Date of review: November 4, 2014
In short: A great city race In full: Super race. Relatively flat for Plymouth which is a huge bonus. Very friendly and a great atmosphere. I appreciate the early start as it means your done and dusted with the rest of Sunday yours. Definitely recommend this race, especially for beginners. Date of review: November 4, 2014
In short: Disorganised start In full: Second year running the half marathon. Didn't mind the new course but finishing at the stadium was definitely better than on a sloped and slippery patch of grass.
My main gripe was the organisation. Nowhere to park at race hq (it was full) and the instructions sent out pre race were clear as mud. Asked a couple of marshalls but they weren't clear so ended up on a side street and had to run back to race hq to make the start. I was lucky to make it and i know that plenty of people will have missed the off as there was no announcement. Not ideal way to start the race.
Medal is a bit pony but i like the t-shirt, one of the nicest i've received. Date of review: November 4, 2014