In short: Well deserving of the awards In full: The Ealing HM organisers are never slow to shout about their award-winning race (UK's best HM, three years running!) and rightly so. A definite highlight of the London running calendar.
All 13.1 miles are run on closed roads, and while there are enough tight turns and uphill sections to compromise your PB chances, the course is wide enough to ensure you never get bottled in, and you should be able to make some time up on the flatter straight bits to offset the twists and the hills. You're never far from a water stop, and as an added bonus, water is handed out in sports cap bottles, so you can take some hydration with you if needed.
On the day organisation is fantastic, helped by race packs being posted to you in the weeks before. Thanks to some public transport issues, I only arrived 20 minutes before the start of the race this year, but was still able to drop my bag, visit the toilet and warm up with time to spare.
Crowd support around the whole course is fantastic, from big groups of cheering people on the main roads and in the parks, to locals hanging out in their front gardens applauding you on when you're running down the smaller back roads. Outside of the (significantly pricier) Hackney Half Marathon, you'd struggle to find a better-supported London race outside of managing to get a place in the VLM.
Price-wise, it's at the more premium end of the half marathon scale, but the closed course, the crowd support and the excellent organisation, to say nothing of the range of goodies and the chunky medal at the end, mean that it's very much good value for money. Date of review: November 1, 2016
In short: Challenging but pretty Saturday morning 5k In full: This 5k (and associated 10k) race through Richmond Park is one of the prettier London events. The first half of the course sweeps through the park paths, and while the second half brings you back to the finish down the main road through the park, there's still plenty of scenery (and the odd deer!) to spot.
The course itself is well signposted and accurate (it's a 5k lap, so two laps of the same course for the 10k). Somewhat undulating, certainly not your usual flat London park course, which will make PBs trickier, but at least for the 5k distance, it's short enough that by the time your legs are feeling it, you're nearly at the finish anyway!
On-the-day race pack pickup is quick and efficient, there's a well-run bag drop facility (covered as well, handy when the weather's as bad as it was this year) and a medal, sweets and a bottle of water await you at the finish line, making this a very good value event indeed. Date of review: November 1, 2016
In short: Great 10 miler down the seafront In full: A really fun alternative to the always-popular Brighton Marathon and Half Marathon. Starting at Hove Lawns, the course never deviated from the seafront, taking you past the pier down to the marina and back again.
On the day organisation was generally impressive. Despite my race pack failing to arrive in the post (something that was 100% my fault having garbled my address details on the entry form!) it was there for me to collect at the registration tent on the morning of the race, without even having to queue. The startline organisation is a little improvisational, we were told we'd be grouped by estimated finish times (given as part of the entry form) but the start pens were a free-for-all, no colour-coded bibs or anything. Still, the course is wide enough for the first mile around the lawns that you can easily get yourself into the right sort of pace group by the time you hit the main road.
The course is easy enough to follow and well-marshalled throughout. Most of it is a straight out-n-back, but there are a few loops and hairpins around the marina to get the distance up. Was slightly surprised by some of the hills, after assuming the seafront would be flat, but none of the inclines are too arduous, and there's a reasonable chance of a PB here.
Crowd support is somewhat patchy once you get into the meat of the course, if that's your thing, though there were plenty of people cheering on around the start/finish area.
A tad on the expensive side, though the cost does include the organisers closing off roads for you, which is very welcome when there's a sizeable field of runners. You also get plenty of post-race goodies at the finish line, including a very impressive medal.
Overall, promising PB course for more experienced runners, and a fun race for a beginner, or for someone looking to step up from 5/10ks but not quite ready to commit to an actual half marathon! Date of review: November 1, 2016
In short: Flat, friendly riverside 10k In full: Really good event. Flat, fast out-and-back course along the Thames Path. Friendly marshals, sociable atmosphere pre and post-race. Not the cheapest 10k you'll ever see, but far from the most expensive, and for your money you get a well-marshalled, well-marked (and super-accurate) course, plus water, snacks and a nice enough medal at the end.
The start is staggered into waves, which does a good job of spreading the field out early on, a much-needed tactic given how narrow some of the early sections are. You can still get caught up in slow traffic if you start too far back, but if you exercise a bit of patience there are plenty of opportunities to overtake safely throughout the whole course. And even if you lose a bit of time early on, you should be able to recoup all of it across the rest of the run. This is a very flat, very PB-friendly course in dry conditions (if it rains, the path will get muddy and slippery for long sections).
Some minor quibbles. Could do with a few more portaloos at the start (the two unused ones on the back of the delivery truck next to the 5-6 usable loos, for example!) and those travelling from some way out should be warned that it's not the most accessible of start points from Richmond station, but all in all one of the better 10k events in London. Date of review: November 1, 2016
In short: Pleasant but congested riverside race In full: A mostly charming and flat course, let down slightly by the congestion in the first few miles, which will make a PB for anyone starting back in the pack pretty difficult.
Good points: - Lovely scenery. Once you get onto the Thames Path, you get mile after mile of quiet riverside trail running. - Plenty of marshals. All very friendly and supportive. - Some great pockets of support, especially around the start-finish area and at the riverside pubs along the way. Long stretches without any people cheering you on as well, but given how narrow the Thames path gets at times, that's probably a good thing. - Good quality goody bag, big chunky medal, plenty of snacks and drinks, and even a woman's razor for some reason. - As flat as you'd expect, which theoretically sets you up well for a PB (though not if you lose time in the congestion, more on that below).
Bad points: - The early congestion is a big pain, and also somewhat dangerous. 2500+ runners being funnelled down the narrow pavement of a fairly busy road is not ideal, and a number of runners made matters worse by weaving out into the road to try and pass slower runners ahead. Can understand the frustrations of those faster people who start too far back, but sometimes you just have to lose time and wait for a safer place to pass. If the organisers want to keep the same route/volume of runners, the start may need to be properly staggered and/or expected finish times may need to be used to spread everyone out early on (at the moment, the start is only split by a sub-2:00/2:00+ funnel). - Bag drop wasn't the most organised. Situated under Walton Bridge which kept everything dry-ish, but dropping bags off was a free for all with runners just walking through the bag area. Doesn't fill you with confidence that your belongings are especially secure. - Not the cheapest event, especially given that your entry fee doesn't come with road closures, etc. - As others have said, for those runners coming from the other side of London, its a tough spot to get to for 8.30am.
Overall, I wouldn't be looking to do this event again despite the friendly atmosphere and the lovely scenery, mainly for the accessibility issues and the congestion. Would still recommend this if you live locally and are looking to run your first half without any finish time expectations. Date of review: November 1, 2016
In short: Got a PB! In full: Did this on the strength of recommendations from other runners. Very glad that I did it, great scenery, good organisation, run by runners for runners. Surprised myself by acquiring a new PB. Would cheerfully do this again for the atmosphere and the encouraging signs around mile 8. Date of review: October 31, 2016
In short: Shambolic. AVOID anything by them In full: Once again (same in 2014, not sure about 2015 as I don't know anyone that ran it) the lack of marshals & poor signage meant most of the field went wrong. No prizes, no course certificate, no obvious first-aid, no toilets. Where did the £1300 he took for this event go? Date of review: October 31, 2016
In short: A lot more hills than I thought In full: This is only the 4th official 10k I have ran. Really enjoyed it but harder than the others I have done. Definitely do it again next year. Want to get a better time ?? Date of review: October 31, 2016
In short: Nice flat race with some scenic bits In full: This was my second time of running River Thames, and it's a decent race. It's a mixture of riverside footpath (mostly stony rather than muddy, but with some tree roots and uneven ground - a runner fell over right in front of me this year and nearly took me with her) and road/pavement. The path parts are quite pretty with good views of the river, but the roads aren't closed to traffic and you have to contend with cars in some places. Some things to bear in mind. Race numbers must be picked up on the day, unless you live locally and can collect it beforehand. They recommend you arriving an hour before the start but the London train doesn't arrive until 45 minutes before, and it's a good walk (20 minutes or so) from the station, which doesn't leave much time to collect the number, pin it on and visit the loo. I managed to blag a lift this time but last year it was a real scramble - the loo queues were quite long, as well. I'd recommend getting a cab from the station if you come that way. The baggage drop is attended but is very much a DIY affair (plonk it in a corral and then collect it later). Number pick-up was pretty efficient. At the finish you get a goody bag (a couple of snacks, a drink and a razor this year) and a nice medal that doubles as a bottle opener. Last year the race had pacers, which meant people started according to ability, but not this year - instead they had two lines, one for sub-2 runners and one for 2 hours plus. That's a pretty big margin since folks like me, who run around 1:58 are starting in the same group as the 1:20 people, and there were a few bottlenecks. That sounds like a lot of negatives but it is a good race if you keep these things in mind and plan accordingly. As to whether it's fast - a PB is definitely possible. Both last year and this year I set PBs at Ealing and then ran my second fastest time here, so it's quick - but not quite as fast as a road race due to uneven ground. Just try to avoid the tree roots and bollards and you're golden. Date of review: October 31, 2016
In short: Well organised, beginner friendly race In full: This was my first ever half marathon and I absolutely loved it!! Perfectly organised. Route was great for a first timer. Loved that it was flat! Marshals were enthusiastic. Medal is impressive! V proud to have done it. Hope to do it again next year but in the sub 2-hour line!! Date of review: October 31, 2016
In short: Fabulous Race In full: My 2nd half marathon but first Worksop what a brilliant race. Organisation was great. Atmosphere friendly. Route is so pretty with challenging hills but great downhill to the finish line. Will be back next year. Date of review: October 31, 2016
In short: Well organised with great goodies and a medal at the end. Thanks to all the friendly marshalls ona cold foggy day. In full: Really well organised with friendly marshalls and great goodies at the end: bananas, bars, milkshakes, water and medal. Organised warm-up and free enegy gels. Mixed abilities and great atmosphere. Course starts and finishes on common and takes in local roads and Wimbledon Village. Downhill section in first half, uphill in second half makes it possible PB. Date of review: October 31, 2016
In short: Year after year it still delivers In full: Pros - great hilly out of town course, good support from villagers, good race HQ in the park. Cons - the 90 degree turn on wet grass at end. Soaking your running shoes to collect your number. Being given the t-shirt before you run.
Proper hilly road half with a very fast last 3 miles. Date of review: October 31, 2016
In short: First 2 miles are a killer! In full: I like the Winchester City Centre start. Plenty of coffee shops etc to hang around in pre-race. The start was quite cluttered but the field thinned out quite a lot during the first two miles of hill climbing. It seems to go on forever getting out of the city. The rest of the run is quite hilly before you descend back down to the city centre - however, those shouting it's all downhill now were, well, lying as there were a couple more going up hill. Decent event which I would do again. Date of review: October 31, 2016
In short: Continues to be a fantastic multi-distance event In full: Ran the half this year (getting old). Great course. Nice scenery. Parking easy. Large race HQ. Will be back next year. Date of review: October 31, 2016
In short: Lots of hills. Great event In full: This one has a very good race HQ (once you find it - SATNAV took me down some very narrow country road) - a school with changing rooms. Plenty of parking on the cricket pitch. This course is all about hills and loops and lots of them. Marshal supportive. Would highly recommend. Date of review: October 31, 2016