In short: Scenic and friendly; faultless organisation; Can't wait for next year In full: I have run a few cross country races before but this was my first above half marathon distance. As a slow runner I am normally near the back and rarely see another soul after the first few miles! This race therefore was particularly uplifting: there were marshalls at every turn, frequent water stations; cheering villagers; boy scouts with a cooling hose shower; and a small minority of plodders encouraging each other along at the back. The very varied scenery - including poppy fields, orchards, meadows, woodland - combined with the kilometer markers, made the time seem to pass very quickly. As I crossed the finish line I said "I want to do that again immediately"! This feeling passed once the aches set in but I will definitely be back next year. Date of review: June 27, 2014
In short: Epic race, not as tough as people say In full: Thanks for Istead and Ifield Harriers for organising this event. Thanks also to the marshals for giving up their day so that we could enjoy this marvellous race. I don't think I've ever seen so many marshals in a race.
For those who like statistics, one of my Garmins made the course 30.12km, the other made it approximately 30.4km. The gross climb, as measured by the first, was 490m.
My impression was that the 28th km, as marked on the course, was rather short. My Garmin had been well ahead until that point, as it usually is. However it was close to spot on at that point.
Enough of statistics, this was a great race, quite hard work to run, quite hilly, quite hot and sunny on the day. However I think that's only to be expected, given that it's a cross-country race in the North Downs in late June, when warm weather is indeed possible. Some people did wonder if an earlier start would be better.
From what I've read of the feedback I must be one of the few who actually ran this race a lot quicker than expected. I'd expected to get round in 3:30 to 4:00, but managed a bit over 3:03.
A note for those who, like me, start towards the back and hope to catch up later. After the first km, when overtaking is possible, it's quite hard to overtake for much of the next few km, as they include a lot of narrow paths and gates/ stiles which caused queues and walking for quite some time. That's not a problem, of course, but one needs to be aware of it.
The water, oranges, tea, coffee and cakes (all free) at the end were excellent and most welcome.
I think this race deserves its excellent reputation and I hope to be back in 2015, if I can get to the start by the start time (I can't drive, so rely on a lift or public transport). Date of review: June 27, 2014
In short: unique, challenging but very rewarding off road race on the north downs In full: This was the first time I had run the NDR so didnt know what to expect although I had done a reasonable amount of training on hills. I suppose pacing is the most difficult aspect to a newcomer, the first 10k you are stuck in position for a lot of the time as it is single track in places, didnt bother me but if you are there to compete then you need to get in position during the first 1k when there is plenty of opportunity. A lot of runners had hydration packs, but there were water stops every 5km so not really essential. The water stops also had jelly babies and cold sponges, just the thing on a hot day. The atmosphere was brilliant throughout, the course was impeccably marked, every tree root/rock highlighted, there were lots of spectators around the course cheering you on, and at the end there was a large marquee with free cake/drinks (donation optional), so what more could you ask for! PS save some energy for the last 5km! Date of review: June 25, 2014
In short: Tough, hilly, real challenge In full: This race comes with an enviable reputation. It certainly lives up to it. I could repeat all the 'tough' 'hilly' 'picturesque' comments - which are all true but I would add for the first time you run it be prepared. Train hard on hills. Lots of good long hills (challenging ups and downs) the course is well marked and well marshalled. The water stops are in precisely the right locations all the way through. The early part of the race encounters a few frustrating stops for bottle necks but you can prevent this by positioning yourself correctly at the start line (first time for me and I didn't, hence my frustration). Once the field strings out it's brilliant. Lots of good racing and mixed terrains so you get the best of both world's - challenge yourself AND others. If community is more your bag, other runners are friendly and chatty too. Lots of club runners but all abilities will get something from this race. If you head out too fast you'll pay at the end - the last 5k is SOOO tough! Overall I had a great time! Date of review: June 24, 2014
In short: Hilly, scenic and a real challenge! In full: This was my longest race to date and boy was it a doosy!! The marshalling and organisation was fantastic. My only suggestion would be to stagger the start as there was a few queues through gates etc at the beginning. Definitely a race you will want to train for and not to be under estimated. I was fortunate to run the majority of the race with my running partner and we kept each other going throughout the hilly and difficult terrain. I would like to come back next year after some proper training to see how well I can do. Date of review: June 24, 2014