In short: Lovely scenic route, great organisation. In full: This was my 5th half marathon and the first not on roads. I would certainly describe it as a trail race but not sure hardy trail runners would. The start in a park in Windsor ran like clockwork. Slick race pack collection and bag drop. Plenty of toilets, although I used them early and did see the queue get bigger, but much less than at other races I have done. A lovely friendly, family atmosphere before the start, helped by the pleasant weather.
I was in wave 1 which should have been 200 people but certainly looked less. The route initially snaked through the park and out on to some pavements and was a little congested but I was expecting that. It wasn't long before we strung out a bit and by the time we had reached the first trail section it was easy to settle into my planned pace. After two weeks of hot weather the trails were nice and firm. Pretty narrow for fair stretches but the relatively low number of runners meant that wasn't a problem, I just waited for a chance if I needed to pass someone. We came across a lot of other people using the trails on foot, on bike, with dogs or prams none of which were a problem, everyone I came across happily moved to one side and so many even stopped and waited for me to pass - thank you to all of them!
The trails were a mix of grassy fields, riverside tow-paths and dirt tracks. Plenty of it was under trees so had the sun shone as hard as forecast we had some shade. Light cloud made the conditions much better than I think everyone was expecting. There was a stretch of about 1.5 miles on pavements and some of the riverside paths were paved. The steep steps up a bridge at mile 11 was the only real downside, or maybe challenge to the route, that killed. The route was really scenic. The mixture of terrains and surroundings that you ran through broke up the monotony and made the race fly by.
The marshals along the way were fantastic, I think I spoke to every single one. And signs were nice and clear so the route was easy to follow. That's important near the end where the runners were quite strung out. The water stations were well placed and the big box of jelly beans at the last one came in very handy.
As you approached the finish you could hear the announcements and knowing you were close was a good boost. As I turned into the last 100m the announcer said the 1:45 time was coming up and that was my target so I put on a burst to make sure I got there. He was doing name checks for all the finishers and encouraging them individually, what a difference that makes, it made a great finish to a really enjoyable race.
There was only one real downside for me; the lack of spectators, hence I describe this as like a training run. There were little pockets of people who encouraged us along the way. I'm used to road running through towns so it was a marked change for me. I wouldn't let that put me off another trail race though. Date of review: July 25, 2016
In short: Very well organised scenic flat run. In full: The bus transfer from the finish to the start worked like clockwork. Route very well sign posted with mile markers every mile. Lots of very friendly and encouraging marshals along the route. Plenty of drink stations on a very warm day. A flat race almost entirely along the Thames path except for a few very short bits on the road. Wonderful scenic route. Nice medal at the end. Only complaint would be that at the finish no goody bag, and only water and a banana. A small point in an otherwise excellent race. Big thank you to all the marshals and organisers who gave up their Sunday. Date of review: July 25, 2016
In short: Excellent 10th edition of the race In full: Not much to add to my review of last year's effort (see below, not very far). Top event with organisation and facilities to match. And results online by teatime. Not one for a pb attempt because of some pinch points and narrow stretches of footpath. But a great day out nonetheless and one of my favourites. Date of review: July 24, 2016
In short: Singing in the rain In full: I entered this a few weeks ago on a boiling hot day. Turning up at Marlow in pouring rain was tempted to go back on the train and go home. However efficient pick up of numbers, chip timing in racing number ( hate fiddly ones to go on laces). Somehow I was put in the first wave of starters. Well organised and we headed off to Windsor. A few gates at the beginning where you walk through and a few roads where caution is needed would make it difficult for a PB. Flat course and some half marathons seem to drag but this one flew buy ( not my time!). Great marshals, braved the rain, water stations , some friendly people on route. Only problem I had was at finish there could have been more around and a coffee stall would have been welcome after getting drenched. Hopefully back next year. Date of review: July 27, 2015
In short: Shame about the weather! In full: This is an excellent half marathon but not a PB one. The paths are very muddy and narrow but I really enjoyed it. Very well organised and I would recommend it but it's not all on pathways, a few grass areas. Plenty of water stations available. I would recommend this race but not if you want a PB. Medal is great. The weather did not help, heavy rain right at the start but the organiser can't do anything about that! Date of review: July 26, 2015
In short: Another excellent Purple Patch effort In full: Great race despite foul weather and muddy course. Organization like clockwork. The start in waves went well, plenty of marshals, loads of water stations (would have been useful had the sun been out instead of driving rain), nice bling at the finish. Excellent start and finish venues, efficient baggage handling, and results online by the time I get home. I've done this race a few times and several others by Purple Patch and I cannot fault them. Date of review: July 26, 2015
In short: Beautiful scenery and a great run if a little hot. In full: Loved this run, the scenery was magnificent and it was great to take part in a point to point for once, rather than the usual circuit or laps. The summer heat made it tricky - I'd love to do the same route in the winter but it'd probably be too dangerous because of flooding. Date of review: September 25, 2014
In short: One of the most scenic races I've done In full: A very well organised race, as it has been the previous two times I've run it. It was nice to be able to get a printout of your result as soon as you'd finished, and the ice cream van was very welcome on a hot day, nothing else to add to the other comments. I certainly hope to do it again next year. Date of review: July 28, 2014
In short: An all time favourite In full: A glorious event, lovely scenery and all of the usual super slick organisation that you'd expect from Purple Patch. I've run this every year since 2007 and this was the best yet - I may be a mid-pack plodder these days so perhaps I take more time to take in the view!
My last race in the area was the debacle of the F3 Events attempt at putting on something similar a couple of months ago - I'd put the Down Tow Up Flow down as a great example of how to really organise a race. First class. Date of review: July 28, 2014