In short: More hills than expected but a good race! In full: This was my first time doing a cross country half, so I found it a bit tough with the narrow trails and there were more (and steeper) hills than I was expecting. However, the organisation was spot on and decent support coupled with some nice scenery made for a nice race. Date of review: September 20, 2011
In short: Great marshalls, great cake, great course and great finish (apart from the weather!) In full: Really enjoyed this race, although it would be better if they could accomodate runners coming from the station (shuttle bus maybe?) as I had to fork out for a taxi. Brilliant atmosphere, very friendly, marshalls were great and never once did i worry about whether I was on course or not (although i couldnt have told you where i was!). No mile markers, but i dont think that matters too much with a trail marathon. The hills were runnable (although marthas church is challenging with the sand!) and the downhills were fabulous. Bit of a long queue to get a drink at the end, but that is easily amended. Great to have a good pub right near the finish to meet up afterwards too! Date of review: September 20, 2011
In short: Excellent off road race, tough but not too tough In full: I did the half marathon this year and will probably be back next year for either the full or the half. Pros: - Well organised, lots of car parking, clear route markings and marshalls at most turnings, potential trip hazards spray painted orange. Lots of water stations (some with food) and nice medal and food at the end. Started on time!! - Nice route, not that scenic in my opinion as you were never very high up but pleasant off road run. Not as tough on the calves as some off road runs as it is fairly even ground (running trainers were fine, no need for trail shoes) - No long, steep hills so you could always recover from any uphill with a bit of downhill the other side.
Cons: - No mile markers. All there was on the half were a 3 miles to go and a 1 mile to go sign (and not sure these were quite in the right place either). My garmin logged the run at 13.3 miles. Understandable as it is off road but did mean I thought I was on for sub 1:45 but missed out by 45 seconds running those 'extra' 0.2 miles - There are about 10 stiles or kissing gates to run through and at each you have to stop. Only costs a couple of seconds on your time each but particularly towards the end of the race it is hard on your legs stopping and then starting again - Some bits were basically single file. The problem occurred for me when the single file bits were uphill, as I tend to maintain my pace uphill and recover downhill. Therefore, I'd be overtaken on the downhill but then have to slow down for the person on the single-file uphill section. Only a small problem as there weren't that many runners but would become an issue if the race becomes more popular
I'd recommend this race, although probably not as a first half-marathon (better to start with a flatter road race). However, as a first trail race it would be very good. Date of review: September 20, 2011
In short: Tough but brilliant! In full: What a great race! Brilliant marshalls, which made up for the lack of spectators. Lots of yummy treats along the way and a brass band at the end who continued to play whilst runners arrived in the rain!
My only minor gripe was that when I finished there were no medium T-shorts left, only large....surely it would be better to have more small and medium than large? Also, what a shame the T-tent shut so early, when some runners were still coming in? Date of review: September 20, 2011
In short: Tough but worth it. Great atmosphere and nice people. In full: This was my first off-road race and only my second marathon. I think I underestimated it to be honest but loved every minute. No sense of pressure at the start which i liked, all very relaxed and friendly. The first 10 miles or so seemed fine but then the course seemed to get tougher just as I was beginning to fade a little. Somehow the second half - back from Guildford to Farnham seemed almost all uphill, and the last 4 or 5 miles were really hard work with plenty of sandy tracks. Finally uphill to the finish but this seemed ok to me as it was on the road and you knew you were nearly there. It was also chucking it down with rain at this point which all added to the sense of 'man against nature'!! Overall, i would definately do it again, although next time i would drop my pace over the first half. 95% of the Marshalls were tremendous and the water/food stops laden with bananas, mars bar, jelly babies, and a selection of biscuits almost certainly saved my life in the final stages!!! 12 months to train and I will be back!! I can't wait (although at the moment I can't walk either!!). Well done to everyone. Date of review: September 19, 2011
In short: Fantastic event with some of the best organisation ever In full: This was my first time to the Farnham marathon and also the North Downs. Whilst it didn't go up to Box Hill or some others of notable climbs it still had a lot of undulations and some really hilly sections too. I didn't find it as hard as I expected but then I'm more used to doing the Lakes or South Downs which are much hillier. One of the most notable hills was in fact right at the end coming up to the finish line, which of course felt a lot harder after just finishing 26 miles. As for the organisation, you won't find better. Everything from the water stops (every 2-3 miles at least) to the route markings (faultless). The organisers even spray painted orange all the ruts and roots and anything you might trip up on through the wooded sections, brilliant. Some of the route would be very hazardous to try at night as there was so much you could in fact trip on. There were also parts of the course that slowed you down a bit to get a rest as single file was the only way through with others in front. The value for money by doing this event was amazing as for the entrance fee they gave you a medal and t-shirt and goodie bag with a bandana also included, you won't find better, I'll be back. Date of review: September 19, 2011
In short: Decent race, but improvements are needed In full: This was my 10th marathon and have really taken to the smaller marathons, and can see this one increasing in popularity. On the one hand it's well organised with entering the race and registering on the day simple and quick. My gripe is with the marshals. Some were not really interested in the race and were more interested reading newspapers or playing on their phones. What makes the smaller marathons good is the enthusaism and encouragement of the marshals. This on the whole was severly lacking. Another thing the baggage area was a fiasco meaning at the end who had to rummage to find your bags which had been dumped in a heap. By far the worst orgainisation I have ever seen on a marathon! It's a tough course, but lots of viewing areas for family and friends. I recommend this course to anyone - just hope the organisers can tweek the course to make it even better. Expect the course to be a challenge though! Date of review: September 19, 2011
In short: Beautiful challenging course, well organised In full: Did the half last year, and I think the full is easier. The hills seemed less brutal, or maybe I'm just more experienced. Thanks to the marshalls, and the course markers for a job well done. Great feed/water stations at regular intervals. I'll be back again next year to wring a little more out of it, remembering to take it a little easier in the first half... Date of review: September 19, 2011