In short: Not as muddy as some make out In full: Judging from some of the previous reviews I was expecting conditions reminiscent of the Somme, but it really wasn't that bad. It had rained a bit in the days leading up to the race, so there were a few puddles and muddy sections, but this was no cross country shoe sucker. In fact I'd say the relatively flat course (barring the half mile hill at the finish) is quite quick considering, and though it's not tarmac has reasonable PB potential. You just need to get ahead of the main group in the initial lap round the park to avoid getting hemmed in. I beat my previous time (and came 6th, to my surprise). Slight confusion with the coaches, they were not at the car park as instructed but a mile down the road. There was an official somewhere letting people know, but he wasn't there when I was trying to figure it out. Otherwise, organisation was pretty good. Marshalls along the route were very friendly and encouraging, so special thanks go to them.
In short: Mud, Mud glorious Mud!! In full: I have not been this muddy in a long time!!. Really enjoyed the relaxing race along the canal. The first few kilometres were rather crowded due to the mass of runners on the tow path and mud. this really messed up my average, but I would still do this run again as it was thoroughly enjoyable and scenic. Look forward to next year and hope it rains a lot less the days leading up to it!!. Date of review: November 14, 2010
In short: Purple Patch organise events like no one else - an excellent race In full: A super event along the wonderful Grand Union Canal. Tough, muddy with a naughty little slope to overcome at the end in Cassiobury Park. Purple Patch Running Club is a master at organising these off-road events. Criticism - a few more portaloos at the start would have been nice! Date of review: November 14, 2010
In short: Well organised, but very slippery & muddy, narrow in places. In full: The start had a couple of bottlenecks but soon spread out, but the towpath is narrow & only single file in places. Due to recent weather a few stages were extremely swampy, muddy and slippery which made it a tad difficult. Well organised & nice finish & medal. Date of review: November 14, 2010
In short: Marshalling, mile markers and water stations were excellent; lavatory facilities prior to start and baggage handling very poor; hwoever, the positives outweighed the negatives and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Date of review: November 11, 2009
In short: A nice way to end the racing season In full: I was looking forward to this race and it didn’t let me down. The morning was chilly, but that’s how I like them to start with. It was unfortunate that it had rained for several days before as this made the path a little slippy, especially in the last third, but that adds to the challenge. Plenty of places to pass, no problem with the water stops or even the “threatened” angling competition (I think the fish had frightened them away). The marshalling was fantastic, no chance of getting lost and I though the nice lady by the first bridge after the start who gave us a smile on the way through set the tone nicely (thx Di). The mile markers were pretty spot on, which is always appreciated.
Bananas, water and a medal at the end were all in order. However, special mention for the massage tent with Thames Valley U which was extremely welcoming and very professional. A donation was asked for, no problem there. Best post-race massage I’d had in a very long time.
On the organizer's side, I can see that some people felt a bit aggrieved with the baggage/transport situation. I'm sure the organizers will do their upmost to ensure that doesn’t happen again (and maybe a few rolls of bin bags on emergency standby just in case). I was more concerned about the toilet queues - longest I'd seen in quite a while (I was directed to a local café but he made it clear he didn’t want runners in there). A bit more work needed there I think.
I’ll definitely be there next year, if only to try the course in reverse, downhill!!