In short: Very well organised, really enjoyed this race! In full: Don't think I can fault anything! The car park was well sign posted (we came from the motorway), car park attendents were really cheerful and plenty of parking space. Lovely runners village, plenty for my Mum to entertain the kids with whilst I ran - cheap tea for my Mum!!! Good warm up, fab atmoshphere, nice flat route with lots of support (even out in the country lanes!), water every 3 miles and great goody bag. Will be back next year! Thanks! Date of review: September 12, 2015
In short: Potential PB coarse with very friendly marshalls In full: A fantastic race with lots of friendly support all the way round. Chippenham Harriers really know how to set up a pre-race village with everything a runner needs. The water stops were very very welcome indeed, as it a rather hot day. Well done everyone, who was involved in making this a brilliant race. Date of review: September 12, 2015
In short: My first half marathon, arrived at the race nervously excited!! The marshalls were friendly and full of encouragement all the way round. Plenty of water stops.mEnd of race received medal and goodie bag .thank you see you next year !!?? Date of review: September 9, 2015
In short: Excellent atmosphere In full: This is a great course through lovely countryside and back into the sports club in Chippenham. The course lends itself well to trying for a PB as its flat in most places. The marshals are all great and really encouarge you to keep going and the course is really well supported so there is always someone to cheer you along. The finish is great with loads of people watching and cheering and this is just what you need to get you to the finish. I liked that was a real mix of runners out with the winner doing an excellent course PB. This year was very hot so it would have been nice to have a few more water stations. I would defiantly recommend this race to anyone interested in running half marathons. Date of review: September 9, 2015
In short: Fantastic event. Organisation superb. Beautiful course (bit biased being a local) but it is very scenic. Really friendly atmosphere, happy runners, enthusiastic marshals and locals. Felt really well looked after from arrival to collapse :-) Date of review: September 9, 2015
In short: Very well organised, PB potential In full: This is the first time I've taken part in the Chippenham half and will definitely run it again next year. Organisation is great, marshalls are brilliant and well spread out throughout the course. PB potential as it's mainly flat. Good support from residents through town and the surrounding villages. The easiest last mile you'll probably run and hundreds of people to cheer you on! Date of review: September 9, 2015
In short: A Half Marathon with an excellent reputation – and a very good rating here at RW. Would 2015 live up to previous years? In full: Spoiler alert: long review coming up! ;-)
I first ran the Chippers Half in 2009 and immediately fell in love with it. I remember arriving at the event village in front of a sports pavilion in clear dry weather with the sun shining and this first impression, coupled with a satisfying performance on the day, favourably set the tone for my subsequent visits in 2010 and 2014. The event that it is easy to compare it with, as they are often on consecutive Sundays, is the Bristol Half. The Bristol Half is, for a ”big city” event, very well organised. However, the Chippenham Half is very different in character and a worthwhile couterpoint to Bristol. It starts out with urban pretensions, as the route goes along the main shopping street of the town (which is helpfully closed to traffic) and then sets out for green countryside. The route stays resolutely flat and rural, passing through one or two hamlets (not really even villages), until somewhere past mile 10. There are then two miles of gentle climb, compensated for by a quick final mile with some downhill back to the sports ground.
When I arrived on Sunday, 2015 promised to be every bit as good as previous experiences – blue sky, sunshine and still air, but with a slight September chill in the air. Absolutely the best time of year for a run like this.
The pre-race process is straightforward. This is one of two Autumn races for which I tend to keep a close eye on the entry calendar, the other being the Abingdon Marathon. Miss getting your entry in promptly and you risk missing out. That remains true for Abingdon, but is less the case for Chippenham and entries were open until shortly before the event. I guess that the sheer number of Half Marathons in the area (including new events like Severn Bridge) mean that we are all spoiled for choice. Anyway, I hope the organisers were pleased with numbers.
The pre-race information is excellent – the website is kept up to date, there are competitor emails and the mailout of number and timing chip is well timed a couple of weeks ahead of the event. There seemed to be two separate Facebook pages (one standing page and one 2015 event page) which confused me slightly when I went back to look for something I had posted, but both seemed to be in good use, which is great. Lots of regular replies from Kevin Napier too, which is reassuring for first timers.
Someone below complained about finding their way to the car park. I can’t really understand this; there are big yellow signs from both directions (and if you didn’t arrive until after the centre was closed off, you were maybe cutting it fine … ?) A mention here for the friendliest set of car park marshals ever – I had my windows wound down and was greeted with cheery “hellos” from all of them.
A short walk across rugby pitches to the sports ground with race HQ and event village. In the past, I have wandered backwards and forwards and left my bag in the car, feeling slightly anxious about the hundred yards walked unnecessarily each way and the energy used and worrying whether I have held on to the right number of layers for the weather. I am not quite sure why – possibly something to do with not having a baggage label, or not needing to join the portaloo queue quite yet and having time to kill. This year, I checked out the baggage tent. What a great idea having the baggage labels and marker pens there on the tables! You couldn’t do that at a bigger event. (And that is one of Bristol’s weaknesses – they just don’t understand that if they give race numbers in the same batch to everyone starting in a particular wave, the congestion afterwards as everyone with similar finishing times stands in the same queue is maddening.) So, a big shout out for the baggage operation. And as for collection – the lady who returned my bag to me must have had both telescope-powered vision and telepathy, because she was already holding my bag up for me while I was still approaching the tent!
Excellent race village. The only thing I would have liked would have been somewhere to buy a Lucozade sports drink (sorry if you were there and I missed you – you missed a sale!).
And so to the start. I remember commenting on this after 2009 – what a sensible idea to display projected finish times *and* minute/mile pacing on the boards alongside the start area.
And off we go. A nice run through the town centre, which makes you feel that the town is really interested in this local event, and out into the countryside. The drinks stations are perfectly spaced out – they seemed to me to come at exactly 3, 6, 9 and 12 miles, so no worrying about where the next one is, they are simply in the right places. Not all organisers can boast that. In 2009, they used plastic cups to dispense water at the drinks stations. I campaigned for bottles, probably with others, and the organisers made the switch the following year. Possibly with some misgivings on environmental grounds, which I would understand, but they did it anyway. Thanks, organisers! I really appreciate having a bottle, particularly when the weather is warm, as it was this year. Enough water for a drink and a shower, with the ability to exercise user control over both of these operations while on the move.
Good marshalling too. Thanks, drinks station teams; thanks, marshals! You were all cheerful and supportive. (Or if you were unhappy, you hid it well!)
This is a great course. Absolutely flat for ten miles, then a little climb in mile 11 and a little more of a climb in mile 12. My mile splits were within a five-second bracket for each of the first ten miles, which I was really pleased about, then about 20 seconds slower in mile 11 and another 20 seconds slower in mile 12. The final mile has some decent fast downhill in it, so that was my quickest mile of all. You soon forget the gradient of the previous two miles as the sports ground comes into sight. Brilliant spectator support in the final field – probably better than a stadium finish, as everyone is so close to the runners. And the commentator is out there somewhere behind the cheering counting us all in too.
Across the finish line. I don’t think this has changed and it doesn’t need to – medal, water, banana, goody bag, t-shirt. Spot on!
Having had a knee niggle in the previous weeks, I went for another first: the post-race massage. Now a big shout out for Amanda Cleverly and her team of friendly physios – great work, ladies!
Next to the information tent, someone was posting sheets of results as they were produced. This meant that, within a short time of finishing, I could see my finishing position and my gun and chip times. Great.
Well, you can probably tell that I enjoyed this a lot. Thank you to the race organisers and everyone involved in making this such an enjoyable day. Yes, I will be back to run this again!
No apologies for the long review; I hope it is helpful! And it's the first time I have been motivated to come back here and write a review for about three years. That says something about this event!
In short: Lived up to Expectations! In full: This race has received consistently positive reviews from Runner's World members, so I was keen to try it out. It lived up to expectations in all ways — particularly in terms of the organisation and the wonderful support from the locals (in both town and country). It's also (if you're into that kind of thing) the race with the most jelly-babies on offer that I've ever encountered . . . Date of review: September 8, 2015