In short: Self-styled "UK's most iconic ultra"? Big claim, didn't deliver In full: Very pretty scenery. After the first 20 miles on dull roads, that is. We were finally treated to a patch of Hadrian's Wall that was off-road. Vindolanda was memorable and The Hill directly afterwards great fun. Running alongside the river, approaching the bridges, was certainly iconic.
Sadly the rest of the run didn't really deliver on the promise given in the blurb.
Having been emailed advice that both trail and road shoes were equally appropriate, my friend opted for trail shoes. After 20 miles of road, her shins were not in a good way. We all understand that there had to be some last minute changes to the course because of weather conditions, but it would have helped if we had been told that the course would be about 85-90% hard surfaces.
The soup at Vindolanda was ok but it would have been helpful if some complex carbs had been on offer, especially for people who were refuelling for the next day. Even the catering vans only sold burgers, hog roast etc. The no of wise at the end was just that - no pasta, only a roll to go with it.
The first part of the course was well marked out but it became confusing towards the end, could really have been better marshalled towards the end stages
Pit stops were really good - sandwiches, cakes, hot drinks, fruit, chocolate.
It seems a shame that the medals were so nondescript, and the same for everyone, whether they were running expert, challenger or relay.
The ribbon on mine unravelled, the same thing happened to one of my team mates. When the race had finished there were no ladies medium t'shirts left - only small mens, which didn't fit.
All in all I don't see how Rat Race can justify charging such extortionate prices. £200 for a 2-day event seems really overpriced. Date of review: June 27, 2012
In short: Optime In full: I did the Expert one-day event and had a brilliant time. First time running more than 30 miles.
- Loads of information emailed out before the race, and plenty of warning that there would be long road sections.
- Participants should understand that it would be impossible to run directly next to Hadrian's Wall for the whole distance as it is a heritage site and therefore protected from too much access, and parts of the wall are inaccessible because they are National Trust or Enlgish Heritage owned sites. Bits of wall that we saw were great, and running along all those dead straight Roman roads gave an idea of what the Roman army probably felt like.
- Weather was awful in the morning, but some of the watery bits were a relief for hot feet. I had good socks and no blisters though.
- Marshalls were very well spaced out, with surprise water and haribo stations en route. Very encouraging throughout, particularly when they were standing in rain and gales.
- I don't think any of the signs had been tampered with when we were running, but a more detailed map would have been useful anyway. Not least to remember after the event what I saw where!
- Checkpoints were excellently well stocked with food and well manned, but I would have liked something similar directly at the finish. Some bananas, Snickers bars, squash drinks, crisps....
- Finish was very quiet when we arrived at 11.30pm, but the staff were very awake and it made for a more personal finish rather than the usual scrum for water, photo and baggage.
- Great encouraging signs during the last stage of 7 miles. Everyone was friendly to each other on the route, but I think it must have been very hard to run on your own. Well done to those who did! Date of review: June 27, 2012
In short: Amazing experience, superb race In full: Not sure what people were expecting from the reviews posted so far. Complaints about the cost? Do you understand the logistics involved in organising an event that spans so many boundaries and the various permissions required, including getting close to the Wall itself. Complaints about the medal? I couldn't care less about what they hang around my neck, the race itself is why I enter. Didn't get to see much of the Wall? Open your eyes, man - I actually reached out and touched the flaming thing!!! Anyway, I thought it was superb - incredibly well organised, although there were some issues with idiots messing about with signage, this was dealt with (including sending out a cyclist ahead of the runners to check). It is simply not realistic to have someone posted at every turning point. The route itself was a mix of road and trails, with the appalling weather making both waterlogged. However, the prepared (decent shoes, socks, Body Glide, some training) wouldn't had a problem with this, in fact I found it enhanced the challenge. The checkpoints were well stocked with drinks and snacks. The halfway camp was decent, with a massage tent and food available. If I had one criticism it would be on the catering choice - burgers and hog roast are not my preferred running fuel. The option of pasta or porridge would've been welcome. And to the ignorant moron who thought it was ok to go to sleep in the early hours of the morning with your radio playing - you sir are an a*se. The second half was my favourite part, running through some beautiful countryside, before a cracking finish along the Quayside and over the Millennium Bridge. An unforgettable experience. I will be back for the Expert race next year. Pros - organisation, scenery, challenge, the fact I won the two-day event! Cons - need a better choice of catering, a map needed as a backup should signage fail. Date of review: June 27, 2012
In short: like many others dissappointed with the medal and the tshirts for £150 for the expert 24 hours run which someone who done it over two days or in a relay had exactly the same The course was on the roads for too long and a more cross country In full: course would have been better but a very good run and there are always problems in running a new route so this run i can see only getting better and better and becoming a must for all runners for years to come :-) Date of review: June 27, 2012
In short: i loved it! In full: yes it was pricey but its a first time event. The amount of food on offer was excellent yep it may have been soup and a roll advertised (soup was awful)there were plenty of sandwiches chocolate cakes etc also would also have preferred some spaghetti to go with the bolgnese rather than a roll. The course was brilliant campsite ok showers well run cleaned after each use. would have preferred to have had the opportunity to test rat race beer on finishing not halfway when you have another days running ahead. Marshalls brilliant however a little countdown of last three miles wouldnt go a miss loved the bridge finish not sure why photographer wouldnt take a photo of me finishing though I know i looked rough but hey! So proud of myself and definitely one to do brilliant organisation would defo do another rat race challenge Date of review: June 27, 2012
In short: Pricey - but very good In full: Yes it is an expensive event - £140 early bird 2 day challenger - but I enjoyed every mile even the very painful, slow ones heading into Gateshead. The marshals at the checkpoints and pitstops were excellent and very suppottive. Plenty of water, sweets, sandwichs, cake, etc. The route was clearly waymarked along its entire length and I had no problems following the markers. I thought the route itself was on the whole good, ok there was alot of road running but this was mainly on quiet country lanes and I never felt "exposed" to traffic. There were also a few tough offroad sections which sapped the energy from the legs and the hill at 33 miles certainly took the wind from my sail! 69 miles is a long way, even over 2 days and I think it would be difficult to improve the route as it is a point to point between 2 cities and inevitability roads have to be included. The finish over the millenium bridge was great, lots of clapping and cheering supporters and Sunday shoppers. Medal and goodie bag was ok but I didnt run 69 miles with the hope of getting great goodies at the end, I did it because it was hard and I wanted to test myself. This was my first experience of an ultra and it has left me wanting more, I just hope the next one I run will be as good. Date of review: June 27, 2012
In short: Fantastic views but expensive and medal is a huge disappointment after going the distance In full: The views were great and everyone that i ran with seemed like they were enjoying themselves until the latter stages when the non stop raining had dampened spirits and none of the checkpoints or pit stops had anything to help soaking feet. Even if someone had gone to a supermarket to get some talcum powder it would of been a huge relief. I just got a shrug of the shoulders when i asked a 'medical' helper what to do. You pay £150 for the expert 1 day race and i just cant see where the money went, the latter stages weren't very well signposted as someone had messed with them, the medals were shocking - didn't even differentiate between an expert / challenger / relay or whether you did it over 2 days or not?? Really feel let down by Rat Race with this one. Date of review: June 27, 2012