In short: High hopes but it ultimately failed to deliver In full: Having run in the Stevenage half marathon last year I had been very impressed with all aspects of the experience and professional organisation, as such, I had high hopes that this would be equally as good. Unfortunately the reality did not live up to my expectations. The 5 pages of 'detailed' instructions handed out before the race were ambiguous and open to interpretation to say the least. Parts of the course required you to run along narrow country lanes with cars whizzing past at the national speed limit, this appeared to be an unnecessary risk. The largely countryside course itself was scenic and challenging which was great, however, it could have been so much improved if there were simple course markers set up to point you in the right direction and negate the possibility of running 'bonus miles'!!! This course is new and does have the potential to be much better, I just hope that for next year this race is more about running rather than deciphering overly complicated and misleading course directions. Date of review: July 19, 2011
In short: Lovely views helped with the forecast bad weather staying away for long periods. Instructions appeared detailed but when read in a large field, quickly became ambiguous. Inevitably, several miles were added which increased the frustration. In full: Being an Ultramarathon beginner I had high hopes for this event. By the end I did not feel that it was the distance that got the better of me however. Whilst the course instructions appeared detailed, it became clear early on that there was plenty of room for interpretation when faced with tracks through fields, following hedgelines and the like. It would be easy to blame the runners that got lost that they wern't reading the instructions clearly. However whilst many finished without these apparent problems, I got the impression they already knew the course (at least partially) which obviously helped! Sections of the event were held on country lanes (60mph territory) which in the absence of paths had the potential for serious safety concerns. The volunteers were great with their well-stocked checkpoints making for welcome sights! As for suggestions, I think there is a strong need for course markers particularly between checkpoints. There was too much opportunity between them for getting lost. I think it would have only required minimal effort to put down posts, flags, ribbons tied to trees etc especially when the course was followed to write the instructions. Date of review: July 18, 2011
In short: A good fun run - getting lost is part of the enterainment!! In full: Usually been more of a PB chaser myself but this changed my perspective a bit. I did the 12.3 mile option but undoubtedly did at least a half marathon after getting lost a few times, sometimes from following the people just in front but that made it more of an adventure. As someone else said it should be viewed as a run rather than a race so I will hopefully go for the 18 mile next year as I now know the 12 mile route! Great checkpoint food, friendly people and a burger at the end :) Date of review: July 17, 2011
In short: Good one again In full: Nicely organised once again and the weather held off for the most part. Pesky cows got in the way on one part of the course obscuring the left turn - all part of the fun. Good belnd of paces and abilities with the 12, 18, marathon and ultra runners all mixing it up Date of review: July 17, 2011
In short: Race organisation was very good. It's a Challenge innit? In full: Hassle-free parking; food and drink en route; food and drink afterwards. A choice of 4 distances.
It's a trail "race" (don't expect a PB though), so you need to find your own way with the detailed route description. You cannot really blame the organisers if you do not read the instructions. And don't rely on following other runners either. People's brains tend you melt a bit after 20+ miles so trying to concentrate on the route when tired is all part of the fun.
I tried the Ultra as the marathon route is getting familiar. I blew up a bit near the end. Never again, which I guess really means: maybe next year? Thank you FVS again for organising this gem. Date of review: July 17, 2011
In short: If you like getting lost in unfamiliar surroundings with a less than useless map, four A4 pages of badly written directions this race is for you otherwise cross it off your marathon calendar In full: Date of review: July 17, 2011
In full: Initial thoughts about the given directions were they were too wordy and would be confusing to read on the move. Once you got used to them they were really well written and accurate, maybe bullet points rather than paragraphs would be better. A real ultra. No signs on the route (other than a couple of "beware runners in road" driver warning signs), so navigation required, just how it should be on an ultra marathon. Testing, lumpy (no huge hills) predominantly off road...superbly well thought out course. Thank you. Too many pink hats and too few blue hats for momentos, but that's a small gripe. Barbeque at the end was (in my opinion) a masterstroke! Thanks very much, if I can I'll be back next year. Date of review: July 17, 2011
In short: Welcoming well organised and relaxed race In full: Thank you Fairlands Valley Spartans for my first navigational race, and my first race over 15 miles. I did the 18 mile option and thoroughly enjoyed run/walking it. Low pressure, very supportive, great instructions and fantastic food at the end. The only very minor blips were the horrible pink baseball caps and the absence of bread pudding at the finish (I'd been saving myself!) Thanks again. Date of review: July 17, 2011
In short: 50k isa good addition to this race In full: Havng run the marathon last year I knew what to expect. The 50k version took in much of the marathon for the first half but a new route for the second. Flat ultras bring their own challenges and for seasoned hill runners, the relentless lack of change of pace had some of us a little fazed. Relentless forward progress was the name of the game today and in between the showers the sun came out and with the regular checkpoints festooned with bread pudding, I didn't eat much else for the journey. Great to catch up with old friends and to make new ones too. The baseball cap at the end was not the greatest idea, perhaps a t-shirt or a medalwould have been somthing more thoughtful. Having said that, a good race at a time when the calendar is not that congested. Well done marshalls. Date of review: July 17, 2011