In short: Good race. Agreed with other reviews would have been good to start at the beginning of the bridge, although the walk to the start added to the atmosphere. Tee shirt special, as it's the first one. Not enough Loos at the start, plenty of bushes! Date of review: August 25, 2014
In short: Stunning location, but organisers need a reality check In full: First of all, Guernsey is a stunning location for a marathon. Lovely waterfront start and finish, gorgeous scenery, awesome coastline on the west side - seriously fantasic stuff.
Unfortunately, the organisation of the marathon really needs a good rattle. They attract a very good standard of runner at the top end, but there's plenty going on to badly put off the casual race runner.
First grumbles begin the previous day, on which all runners need to register. Bit strange as it's a fairly small field, but we were handy so no problem. But upon being given our runners' pack (race number, baggage label), I notice there's no timing chip as advertised on both Facebook and the event website. It seems the previous year's info hasn't been adequately edited to suit this year - they've gone gun time only, which immediately has me wondering whether or not the entry fee (£46) suddenly looks a tad excessive.
Onwards to Saturday evening, and the Pasta Party. Advertised: £11 for as much of four different pasta dishes (all listed on the ticket) and salad as you wanted, plus free water.
So I and others were a bit perplexed to find three dishes, all but one completely different from those listed, and all luke warm if you were lucky enough to get to the front of the queue when the serving dishes were fresh from the truck out back.
Worse still though, the caterers were initially charging people for water, until about an hour later when people's persistent queries suddenly resulted in them realising a mistake had been made. A number of people had arrived with no cash, assuming all they'd want/need was included in the money paid up front, and went without a drink of any kind for most of their evening. Shoddy at best, not least because the race director was present.
Speaking of whom, his welcome address might have rubbed some up the wrong way as he basically told all present who was getting the top 4 places. Fair enough, there were some seriously good athletes signed up, but I think it was a fairly insensitively delivered bit of bubble bursting, when some present might have wondered if a top 3 finish was within them. Personally I found it funny and a bit Alan Partridge, but hey ho.
On to raceday itself, and the reasons for the requests for volunteers to marshal were apparent throughout. It was a spartan marshal presence to put it extremely mildly.
For the most part, signs were useful and helped mark the route, but in other sections it was simply worrying and could have been pretty nasty. Roads off the waterfront were generally open, and in some sections there was heavy traffic. I counted at least four very dangerous parts of the course that needed a presence to aid road crossings. Worst of all was a crossover straight where a marshal was busy litter picking on the left verge, looked over his shoulder at me, said "cross over to the other side mate," and then carried on what he was doing. If I'd done as he said, I wouldn't be here typing this, as I'd be recovering from being hit by a van and/or the Harley Davidson that was in the process of overtaking it. Thankfully the long stream of traffic coming the other way made me think twice anyway, so instead I just pointed out how unwise that was and waited for a safe gap. By this point (18 miles+) there were some badly fatigued runners on the course, so it really was a genuine concern that people would just blindly amble into the road assuming all was well.
There were also some right turns where you needed to cross four lanes of traffic to get to the left side of the road. At least two were unmanned, and given how busy the roads were, that's just irresponsible. Yes there's inherent risk to running on open roads, but given that some junctions early on had a police presence, it's baffling to me how other areas weren't identified as being potentially hazardous or problematic.
Speaking of hazardous, many runners were absolutely desperate to find that advertised Maxfuel sports drinks and gels weren't available at water stations. I later found that those manning the water stations were told first thing that stocks hadn't emerged. I didn't hear a peep mentioned to the runners, which is just insanely complacent. I had gels and bottles on me, but the overwhelming majority almost certainly went the entire race without either, assuming they'd be provided. Some runners even turned to foraging wild berries for nutrition, as they'd otherwise have had absolutely nothing else along the entire route. A query about this was later responded to on Twitter, long after the race had concluded. Why no announcement? I had about 30 spare gels and two tubes of sports drink tabs in my hotel room that I'd have gladly shared had I known they were needed, and I don't doubt other runners would have done the same. As it happened, all I could offer any of the several increasingly desperate runners around me was the one spare gel I had on me. I noted that TV cameras and reporters were present, but I sincerely hope that a footnote of baddish publicity for a failed delivery wasn't the reason for what was a hugely significant absence. Imagine the adverse publicity from a fataility caused by a delirious runner, short on nutrition, staggering into the path of a car.
There were further quibbles, from undermanned water stations, a paucity of bins, no marshal presence ushering pedestrians from blocking the width of the closed section of roads on the waterfront, to the bizarrely low-key finish line which was almost invisible when on the course (the 10 runners finishing behind me all stopped their running and their watches short of it, assuming their race was run).
Ultimately, it's got the ingredients for a gem of a marathon but it needs to pull its finger out. I had a good day and got a big PB, but god almighty I hope the race debrief isn't a big exercise in backslapping, as some of what went on today was utterly shambolic. I'm just glad I can shake my head and laugh about it as opposed to lamenting something altogether more harrowing.
In short: A view from a Bridge...... In full: Hats off to everyone involved in this as it must have taken a lot of organising. Exclusive use of the bridge for runners at the start with motorway closed. What a race start. Although not sure why race start couldn't be at beginning of bridge. This would have avoided the last minute mile dash to the start once everyone had finished queuing for the toilets! The marshalls were great, good event HQ and parking. Steep hill at mile seven slowed everyone down a bit. Unique race. Date of review: August 24, 2014
In short: Fantastic race for those wanting to try multi terrain! In full: 10k Quarry Challenge. I absolutely loved this race, definitely one of my favourites so far. Just a few quick points: - The medal was HUGE and made lots of my fellow runners very jealous! - The support around the course is fantastic and really gives you a boost especially towards the end. - I was a bit worried when I read some of the reviews as I thought it was going to be almost impossible but it really wasn't that bad if you're in training shape. The challenges of jumping over streams and squelching through bogs kept it interesting. The only silly part was up the steep hill near the start where you had to stop and wait for people to move onto a single track path but after that it got a lot better and easier to pass people. -My only negative with this race is that no one seemed to be able to tell me the actual time of the train and all I could work out was that I'd missed it by something less than 9 seconds based on the next person that it said had beat it.
Either way, I will definitely be going back to race the train again!! Date of review: August 24, 2014
In short: Great race, great organisation In full: Running on a motorway need I say more. Will become a must do race for many years to come! Hill a mile 7 is challenging but the downhill after more than makes up for it. Date of review: August 24, 2014
In short: great idea for a race and well organised. great marshals In full: hope organisers can arrange this to be run again in 2015 or 2016. well done rogue runs for thinking of this. great supportive marshals and local villagers. enjoyed the route and even managed a PB. organisers just about got everything right. oh nearly forgot great goodybags as well as shirts/medals. only complaints I heard of was the usual one - lack of loos. Date of review: August 24, 2014
In short: Wow In full: I know it is a gamble always with a new race but what a hit this one is!
Right from the race briefing letter (I didn't hang my bum over the side of the bridge for a pee I promise), through the race itself and then the finish it just hit the spot.
Your marshals are fantastic - lovely, lovely people, all SO supportive and encouraging. Even as a back of pack runner, the water tables were still well stocked and the finish goody bags were perfect - too often in races things run out before us slowies get in.
I loved the route ...well, except 'that' hill. But even that couldn't mar the race.
Well done to the organisers though - there are plenty of races that take years to get right but you have got it nigh on perfect for the inaugural running of this race - hats off to you and I'll be back! Date of review: August 24, 2014
In short: This is how it should be In full: A fantastic out and back run along the banks of the River Thames. Great marshalls, with well stocked aid stations. Love the out and back, allows you to see all your friends. Really enjoyed this event, and will be back. Date of review: August 24, 2014
In short: Amazing to run over the bridge! In full: Good points:
- Running over the bridge, on the way out you're on the actual MOTORWAY (closed of course), on the way back you're on the pedestrian walkway (motorway back open by then) - stunning scenery as you would expect.
- Bumper set of goodies at the end. Undoubtedly the best one I've had for such a reasonably priced race: medal, tech t-shirt, banana, bag of crisps, 2 x energy bars, bottle of water, bottle of lucozade
- Nice countryside on the non-bridge parts (and this makes up about 8 miles of the course).
- The Hill. It's a fairly flat course, a few minor hills, but around the 6-7 mile mark is The Hill (signposted as such) which I didn't see many people run up (not me, for sure). Very steep, not that high, but hard work - great feature.
- LOADS of volunteers/marshalls - they were everywhere, so thanks to them!
Room for improvement:
- Not many toilets. I know that's a common complaint for races, but there were a lot less than similar sized events I've been too.
- Bizarre start. I'm sure there was a good reason for it... the race started halfway onto the bridge, which meant we had to walk about a mile (!) over the bridge to get to it? Why couldn't the start have been at the start of the bridge?!
- Not much crowd support. As most of the race is on country roads, you don't see anyone. I should say though that in the places you did see people (ie the bridge) the support was great, so thanks to those people. Date of review: August 24, 2014
In short: Lovely to Meander with Hermes In full: First time to this event, but thoroughly enjoyed it. The Thames Path is great to run along, although always busy, loads to see. Surprised to see the complaints about the lumpy terrain and lack of food, water and aid stations. The amazing baked treats are always a highlight of a Hermes event and this one was no exception, as it was an out-and-back course, the aid stations were visited twice and all of them were happy to fill water bottles for runners. There was also plenty of cakes, water etc. after the finish line, perhaps some people were too tired to notice. I thought the path was in pretty good condition, certainly better than most trail footpaths. I didn't really like the extra loop at the end of the event, it is always mentally tough to go past the finish and have to do more miles, but I understand this is being changed next year. Maybe a urinal for the men would be a good idea too, to help cut the queue for the toilets. Lovely medal, pleased to add that to my collection. Looking forward to the winter event, thanks again to Hermes for such a good day! Date of review: August 24, 2014
In short: Great course, great people and always great weather :-) In full: Always enjoy running this event. It's a great part of the country to visit, so if it means making a long journey to get there,then make a holiday of it! Date of review: August 24, 2014
In short: Flat and well organised In full: I ran this yesterday as a training run for Abingdon in a couple of months.
It's pancake flat and for most of the route it was nice scenery. I didn't find the crowds too annoying but I wasn't racing all out which made it easier to dodge and weave! The organisation was generally good and all who were involved were very friendly indeed with all marshalls being very encouraging.
My only minor gripe was the finish - it got pretty hot from Midday on and there was no water available at the finish line. There was a water station about 50yds from the finish but you had to cross back over the marathon route which resulted in a few very thirsty finishers narrowly avoiding very tired people still running. There was a lady trying to direct traffic but she was also trying to direct the people coming the other way at about mile 24 so had a lot on her plate. The station itself was struggling to keep up as their primary concern was giving water to the runners still going at mile 24. I think that an August marathon probably needs water available right at the finish.
It didn't detract from a good, well organised race but is maybe something to think about for next time :)
In short: Low key, good for first-time halfers. In full: Not traffic free - but not a problem. Plenty of friendly marshals - no danger of becoming lost. 4 water stations - in plastic cups, no jelly-babies etc. Not flat - but not 'silly hilly', mostly flattish/downhill after first 4or5 miles. Car parking easy. I've done this event 3 times, i'm sure i'll come back again. I emphasise how pleasantly low-key the day is. Date of review: August 24, 2014
In short: Favourite race of the year In full: I much prefer and normally run longer distances, but this is probably my favourite race of the year. The organisation is fantastic, the value truly amazing and best of all everyone is welcome which means I can run a reasonable distance with my kiddies. We ran Cardiff this year and Bristol this year. I hope that this event continues to grow year on year with more venues being added but maintains its family friendly approach and great value for money. A definite date for any runner on their race list. Can't wait for next year. Date of review: August 24, 2014
In short: Great local event with few runners but great scenery! In full: This must be the smallest field I've run in up to now but the friendly welcome, lovely scenery and friendly marshals made it all worthwhile. Date of review: August 24, 2014
In short: Really lovely race, excellent organisation and marshalling. Fabulous over the line gift of sausages, as well as water, flapjack ,apple and lolly ! Great race, thank you. Date of review: August 24, 2014