In short: Lightning Flashed, thundered roared and down it poured..... In full: What a start thunder and lightning and torrential rain before the start - did it dampen the spirits - not a bit.
The race (and for those mental guys at the front it was a race) is tough - I managed a Personal Worst time for a marathon - so unless it's you first ever marathon a PB is unlikely.
The course is cleverly designed to extract as much psychological torture as possible. Every hill you run down - you will be running back up at some point. You know how far ahead the leaders are as they come steaming by you in the opposite direction. And then there is reaching the final line for the first time, where you have to turn round and do it all over again.
Having said that, the downhills and flats (and quite a few of the hills) were all runnable.
Hats of to the marshalls - top notch cheekiness from all of them.
The only bad point was that I had the wrong name printed on my running number - but by the end of the race I had stopped thinking there was somebody else behind and became my new alter ego "Matt"
P.S. Hats of to the guy from Colchester who did the steps 5 times (instead of the normal 4) - I tipped the marshals a fiver to send you the wrong way ;-)
Overall a great race - may even do it again in 2 years time.
In short: Will keep you smiling until the next Picnic in 2013! In full: A truly wonderful and fantastic race. A huge thank you to Dr Rob and his team. The marshals are without doubt peerless - you made me smile and forget the pain! A massive thanks to my fellow runners, no matter which direction you were headed, whether on your first lap or second, you lifted the spirits of a tired and hurting escapee from an asylum. Jelly babies will no longer evoke childhood memories - just bring to the fore the masochistic tendency to start climbing never ending steps.
In short: Having now finished, I can say that this marathon is the craziest and most monumentally brilliant out there! In full: 3rd time that I've completed the Picnic so I must be completely insane. Struggled more this time around possibly due to knowing what we were in for!
The torential downpour was almost biblical, and it felt like we were being warned of what we had let ourselves in for.
The steep and long hill from the start has to be treated with respect, and with a fair amount of walking when you tackle it again on the second lap.
The toughest part of the course though for me is the first set of steps which are 2 miles in on the outward half of each lap, and 2 miles towards the end of each lap on the way back to the start/finish. Its difficult to get in any sort of rhythm when descending and the ascent forced me into a painful and slow walk. The 4th and final set is a relief as you can smell the finish from there.
There are plenty of other challenges which you have to confront including the other set of steps (The Eiger Steps) which you ascend/descend twice - these are more runnable on the descent and the rousing support from the marshals at the foot was a massive boost. You also had to cross the river on submerged stepping stones (very carefully), an out and back up and down the cowfield (no cows this year to stare you out) four times - again with fantastically enthusiatic marshalling, and that treacherouslt slippery and muddy decent to the marshal point at the mid-way point of each lap. In between there are some nice runnable sections but you have to hold back a bit for all the murderously tough sections.
The exhaustion, pain and difficulty were more than offset by the scenery, great camaraderie amongst all the runners (munroers as well as picnicers), the best marshaling that I've experienced, and the glory of completing the marathon. I was seroiusly questioning myself when I hit the many dark moments, but I can only see myself coming back again for more in 2013!
Great bright t-shirt and chunky medal to be worn with pride. The only slight grumble was that the picnic promised at the end was gone by the time I had finished, but otherwise everything else was of the highest order.
Many thanks to Dr Rob and his great team. Date of review: June 19, 2011
In short: There are marathons and there is the Picnic In full: They were not kidding when they said uk toughest mthon but sprinting down that hill for the last time was amazing, a must for long distance runners. Date of review: June 19, 2011
In short: Brain numbingly tough In full: Even harder than i expected.The steps are murder.On a lighter note ,the marshalls were brilliant and very supportive ..A brilliant race. Date of review: June 19, 2011
In short: Hardest and the best! In full: Most certainly the toughest 26 mile race I have run. Excellent organization. Dr Rob has done it again. I agree with all the comments below and if you fancy a bash at a really tough mara then make sure you sign up for this in 2013. The spirit and camaraderie of the runners, marshals and spectators surpasses all others and really needs to be seen to be believed. 5 stars, 10 out of 10 and a massive thumbs up! Date of review: June 19, 2011
In short: Simply put; The Picnic is the best race in Britain In full: Another stunning race organised by Dr Rob.
This was the second time running this event for me and I managed to knock nearly 40 minutes off my previous time. The Picnic is literally as hard as nails but the 'out and back' (twice!) format helps immensely as you get to encourage (and be encouraged by) the rest of the field. This coupled by the bespoke medal, t-shirt, novelty gift (this time a colour changing mug) and post race picnic make it value for money.
A special mention has to go out to the marshals who are amongst the most encouraging and friendly in any race I've ever run, especially the guy at the top of the Eiger steps, thanks for the kind words.
In conclusion this is one race I'll be back for every year it's run!