In short: Great race In full: To give some context, I race quite regularly and ran yesterday's half in a very surprising PB of 1:39. I don't run many charity races but did this one as a friend of mine who is new to running wanted to choose a scenic half as her first. I came away thinking it was a pretty good half. I understand that people had problems parking on arrival, but BHF did tell runners to arrive with plenty of time and the car park opened 2 1/2 hours before the race! There were bad queues for exiting but I was one of the lucky ones who found a quick alternative way out.
The race was very scenic, and I know it all depends on the person, but I would certainly not describe it as hilly (and I hate hills). I think an accurate description is rolling hills (and my friend who ran it in 2:50 agreed with me, so we have both ends of the running speed/experience spectrum covered!) There are no hills that exhaust you - one or two that are a bit tiring but it's more gentle inclines, flats and gentle declines, with a couple of good downhills too.
They set off the start in waves - I went towards the end of the first one, thinking I should probably have gone in the second one, but ended up overtaking so many people who clearly shouldn't have gone in the first one! But I didn't really have any problems with congestion. There were a couple of annoying moments when you're trying to overtake the 10k runners who are hogging the path, but it didn't really bother me.
Water stations were frequent and it's fantastic having water bottles instead of cups but they were huge and it was sad to see all that waste - most runners only want a small amount. The first water station (obviously the busiest) wasn't long enough or well-manned enough so I missed out, and a later water station only had one person so it was a case of grabbing a bottle myself!
There was a nice amount of support on the course - lots of families at the start/finish and locals out of their houses in the pretty village we ran through.
I appreciate this is a charity race, but I would rather see a better, technical T-shirt or a better medal, instead of the average cotton T-shirt and average medal.
Bananas or something similar at the finish would be nice!
Baggage storage needs to be better organised - the bags didn't seem to have been put in number order so it took ages for the people to find mine! Oh and toilet queues went pretty quickly, which is always a relief 10 minutes before the start of a race!
I don't think they should charge as much as they do for spectators but appreciate it is a National Trust property and they charge more than that for normal visitors to the grounds.
One more thing - the course map displayed on the fence was wrong! It showed 2 laps of the big loop by mistake - we were quite confused when we first looked at it, then realised the error, not that it mattered but just thought I'd mention it!
All in all I thought it was a really good race - the scenery made it and of course I was happy to get a PB! Date of review: October 6, 2014
In short: Should not be advertised as flat In full: Pros: Beautiful course, good atmosphere.
Cons: Not a flat course as advertised on RW but undulating/hilly. Mixing the half mara and 10k routes means that faster half marathoners have to weave around slow 10k runners. towards the end of the race which is a bit frustrating. Date of review: October 6, 2014
In short: So much potential but needs better organisation In full: Very undulating course, definately not one for a PB. However the scenery and relatively small field make this an ideal alternative to some of the big city races. However a few things could be improved: utter madness to start the 10k race just as the half marathon runners were still coming around at the 4 mile mark. Whatever rythm you had got into was instantly halted as you just ran into a mass of starters, causing many runners to weave off the tarmac onto the side banks, scattering spectators along the way. 1 hour and 20 mins to exit the car park at the end took the gloss off what for me was an enjoyable run all said. Small point - but they could make more of an effort with the medal, being as it is a generic BHF medal. Date of review: October 6, 2014
In short: Well organised once it got going! In full: Really enjoyed this, I must have just got thru before the 10k started, there were issues for the HM runners at the end weaving passed the 10k runners but nothing major. There were hills but nothing to steep, it did however feel that all of 5-10 miles was on a gradual incline. Just if the organisers do read I do have a few small grumbles: 1. Parking, it took 30 odd minutes to get parked for no apparent reason. Good job I arrived early. 2. Charging spectators is a bit out of order, if it was a couple of quid then fair enough. I don't see what difference spectators were to people walking there dog and there was no system, it seemed only honest people paid as there were ways around it. 3. I know it's a charity but more people would wear the t-shirt if it was a technical t-shirt, even if it was a couple of quid more, people can use again. This would make it more of a 'sea of red'. Small grumbles but really enjoyed it, thanks!!! Date of review: October 5, 2014
In short: Beautiful setting no doubt about it esp coombe section In full: Bit of a bummer when reentering park and there is an awful lot of congestion which annoyingly resulted in a lot of snaking amongst people. Though great incorporating a 10k and fun run making the sport highly accessible to all. A comprehensive sponsor engulfed goody bag would be nice but price wise great value when you consider other halfs less scenic charge £37 plus !! Date of review: October 5, 2014
In short: NOT FLAT!! In full: Crazy hills, both up and down. Silly idea to release the 10k runners just as the half runners come past at 4 miles. Demoralising and traffic heavy! Lots of public wandering around on the paths we run on, i was behind a family, buggy and dog all side by side...Quite expensive for a standard medal, no goody bag and few marshalls. The website advertises water, fundraising pack and course signage (?) as benefits of the fee....not one for me next year but nice to do once. Date of review: October 5, 2014
In full: This race has a lot going for it. Not least the very picturesque setting. But I did feel it was badly let down by the decision to run the 10k and half marathon simultaneously. This resulted in terrible and potentially dangerous congestion around miles 4 to 5 of the half course. Not at all enjoyable and any chance of a PB vanished at that point. I so wanted to like this race better than I did. But in the end not one to repeat. Date of review: October 5, 2014
In short: Nice but hilly In full: From a pure running point of view the course was very hilly, not recommended if you want a PB. If you just want a nice run it's fine, very beutiful scenery. Date of review: January 9, 2013
In short: The delay at the start ruined it. In full: It wasn't the organisers' fault that there was an October heatwave, nor that lots of runners were delayed in traffic (although I managed to get there from London on time). However the decision to delay the start at the very last minute was frankly irresponsible. In the 30 minutes spent frying with all the other poor souls who had made it on time, I drank all the liquid I had with me and felt ready to drop before I'd even started. As a result of overloading with liquid I also needed a pee as soon as I was able to. The delay also meant that we were running in a very exposed part of the course during the hottest part of the day. This was my ninth half marathon and I've never stopped once until this one - simply because I was over-heating. It's also the only half I've not enjoyed. I take pride in running the full 13.1 miles and I'm pretty sure I'd have been ok without the unnecessary sunstroke session. People shouldn't complain about hills - if you aren't fit enough to run one of these things you shouldn't enter. Or if you need a flat course enter a flat race. Date of review: November 18, 2012