In short: Fairweather but scenic marathon In full: I've been trying to write a few words about my experience at Rutland Water since I ran it last November (about six months ago) but keep getting sidetracked.
So here we go for the much abridged version. Fat Feet run good events but were troubled by the English weather during 2012, as were a whole heap of other running event organisers. The blurb on their web site seemed to lean towards fair or sunny conditions, without a need to invoke your inner hardened trail runner to complete the 26.2 mile course.
Sadly, as I said, 2012 was blemished by the weather. And as a result, there were several points of concern. Some people hadn't prepared for either the cold and/or wet - myself included. While the cold shouldn't have come as a surprise given the time of year, the wet did. Rain falls from above which can't be helped. Unfortunately, at Rutland Water, if there is heavy rainfall, it has nowhere to go and quickly starts pooling everywhere. This made for very cr*ppy terrain underfoot - mud without any semblance of traction, shallow standing water everywhere on both road and trail and occasionally, puddles so deep that you're almost knee deep when wading through.
If you opt to run this, be prepared for anything. At its heart, it is a trail marathon. There is some road but you are likely to get muddy and you are likely to be tested.
Around the 21 mile mark, I reached one of the last aid stations on the course to find a table with cups of water in disarray and the cadets who were volunteering at the event huddled in a nearby car for warmth. I felt quite angry at the time. I was out there in a miserable climate and I wanted some support. That was wrong, so very wrong but it was an involutary reaction. In hindsight, those guys had been out there for a long time too and were obviously sheltering away because it was freezing outside, the wet weather wasn't helping and at least, in my case, I was able to try and move faster to generate some warmth while they were obliged to stay near to the aid station. I'm glad that even huddled up in a car that these guys were still out there. And for the record, I am grateful to every single volunteer and spectator out on the course that day. Without you guys, these events wouldn't happen. Thanks for sticking it out, even when there is very little in the way of respite.
My only other qualm was the finish line. There was little in the way of shelter to either get dry, get warm or get changed. And after what was a fairly gruelling experience, no medal. It's petty, I know, but I like my little trinkets for completing these things. Should this event ever suffer these conditions again, there needs to be more thought put into looking after the finishers who are potentially soaked through to the bone and verging on hypothermia, even if this is only a cup of tea and a space blanket.
All of that said, I really enjoyed the Rutland Water Marathon. I'm sure I didn't say that until much later that night after having changed into some dry clothes, warmed myself through and travelled home. I think that both the organisers and the runners need to take something away for next time from this year's experience. I certainly intend to run Rutland again, possibly more than once. I'd like to run in better conditions, to enjoy the setting in the sunshine as I think it was intended. I would also like to run it again in dire conditions but go into it with that scenario in mind, take a waterproof and some trail shoes, ready to battle with anything that Rutland Water 2012 raised against me and then some.
Dear Rutland Water, I had an awesome experience. Massive thanks to Fat Feet and all of the volunteers who were probably out in the elements longer than any of the runners. To the weather, we'll meet again and next time, you'll have to throw more down from the heavens than a torrential apocoalypse to stop me in my tracks!!!
To anyone else out there, run in the warm and dry but don't forget to enjoy the cold and wet. Running is so much more fun when it's challenging and varied. Date of review: April 19, 2013
In short: Great Event ruined by the organisers In full: The event as a marathon is fantastic in its location and scenery. Challenging, the hill at mile 23 into Egleton is a heartbreaker. Event the awful weather didn't detract from the wonderful setting.
However, organisation on the day was sloppy and not very welcoming, goody bag was pointless, technical vest has gone in the charity bag and a Certificate instead of a medal was an insult.
Not one of Fat Feet's finest days, especially as they have not responded to any e-mails regarding issues with the race. I will avoid their events in future. Date of review: November 15, 2012
In short: badly organised, and they refuse to reply to any contact In full: Fat feet events wouldnt reply to any contact before race, and now also wont respond at all.
Poor parking, many directed to a car park with no toilets near (locked) and that meant a long cold walk back after end of race.
Army cadets were good at water stations, but a tiny drop of water in cups no good, plus kids were having to deal with very cold people and didnt really seem to know what to do with cold casualties.
No one around at the finish, no one to give out goodie bags. and goodie bag rubbish, just a promotional vest for the company and certificate and no medal and vest way too small. poor mementoes for £35.
No care for cold wet people that i could see.
Shuttle buses useless, not enough, long wait.
This isnt some charity race organised by volunteers at a club, but a proffesional events company.
Chip also failed untill i was directed back over mat twice
Have waited over a week to rate, as wanted to give them a chance to respond to my complaints, but ignored
In short: Disappointing In full: I have left my views for a week to see how I feel after reflection; still disappointed with a number of factors FatFeet could control, eager for another challenge, but most of all - warm.
Parking over one mile away was known, but for the toilets to be locked on arrival and then no facilities at the start was awful - seeing men and women alike peeing in the trees was surely avoidable.
The race itself was made tougher by the rain and consequent wet feet, mud between the toes, frozen fingers and chafing for the first time - how sore is that!
I over cooked it and finished a good 20 minutes from a reasonable estimate, but no moans about the course - it is challenging and needs to be marketed as such; it should attract more runners that way.
The finish came and I dreamt of achievment, a shuttle back to the car park, change in warm clothes and pick up partners warm clothes and shuttle back - I had an hour to do this.
BUT - a small tent, small bag with soon to be soggy card and a vest (which I like) but no medal - come on! just about everyone loves a medal. It lures the first timer back and it is tangible proof of your mental toughness.
Trudged up the hill but the bus had gone; it took half an hour to come back and I stood with others in the rain, shivering and shaking - a kind chap opened a foil blanket I had thrown in at the last minute. It helped a bit :-(
Partners arrival got close so I let the bus go and hid in the baby changing unit with another chap until she arrived! She was colder than me poor thing, and shook like Mrs Overall, but luckily bus was there and we returned to Sykes Lane - no one on the bus spoke, the rustle of the blankets was loudest and we were thoroughly fed up.
£35 is a lot for little in return which invariably means we won't go back. Date of review: November 9, 2012
In short: Great Location - Not ideal for first timers In full: I can sympathise with some of the comments that have been made regarding this event. But on the whole, I tend to focus on this as a x-country marathon, and as such make sure I carry all the provisions I think I will need (including gels, water etc) - have to admit I have ran this 3 times now (yes the goodie bags are reducing - but for me, its doing the course that counts). Marathons are about the the effort of the competitor and the training done ahead of the day - most of us would have run 20 miles plus (with-out support of drinks stations etc) - so why gamble with the drink station strategy of the organisers?) I even make sure I carry my stuff for the bigger events - by the time I get to some of the latter stages, drinks / gels have gone as well. The Start / Finish / Car-parking will always be problematic and I suspect that with the cold temps and the rain, that waiting for the lift felt like it was too long (Fatfeet should have some thermal blankets for that - all the other years they would not have needed them, but this year it has bit them on the ass! - that is the only real criticism I would add.) What I would say is that the CADETS were FANTASTIC all around the course - and I made sure that I mentioned that to their leading officers at the end of the race. They made me smile, they waved me on and I made sure I said THANK-YOU to all of them that I saw. All in all, it was a tough day (cold, wet and slightly windy) - for most people, marathons are test of endurance and common sense. ALL KUDOS for those completing it, even better for the PB's!! - I was just happy to complete (just under 5 hrs) it, and will be looking to do it again next year. Date of review: November 7, 2012
In short: Not the best weather this year In full: Not very often I rate events but here go’s I shall try and sit on the fence looking at everything when I write this: The weather was not on the side of the event. We had heavy rain and flooded paths. Something the organisers put on facebook the day prior to the race, so the warnings were there. Yes we had torrential rain and towards the end the puddles where getting deeper. But. So many runners where wearing shorts and tee shirts or knowing the conditions failing to make allowances for the relevant conditions. Let us remind ourselves that this is a trail event and as such will not have the same facility’s as big marathons, you are not going to get hoards of supporters and on the finish line there will only ever be a smattering of hardy friends and family braving the weather. The course itself is lovely, it is well marked with plenty of signage and not possible to go wrong. There were mile markers every 3 miles (sufficient for a trail event). It was well marshalled with numerous army cadets all in good spirits and very helpful, they had set up two marshalled road crossings at the entrance to the peninsula with numerous marshals and stop/go boards to stop traffic and let the runners cross without being impeded and on the last section of main road before you got to the finish, where there was no path the road had been cordoned off with cones giving runners a safe lane to run in. I found that there were more water stops than in a normal trail marathon and from memory at least two had gels being offered to all runners. Another thing worth remembering is that this is a nature reserve, You cannot just plonk a load of portaloo’s by the start in such an area. And you can’t give water in bottles as the less socially responsible runners amongst us just hold onto them and then chuck them miles from the water stops making cleaning up a nightmare…has anyone running a race ever considered those who have to walk the course behind them picking up the water bottles, gel and food wrappers etc? The Instructions where clear and I do wonder sometimes if people actually read them, the walk to the start was clearly made out, yes it’s a walk and inconvenient in todays consumer society but you could always use it to warm up? There were extra portaloos at the main start car park and the main toilets had a large internal floor area which allowed people to get changed out of the rain and wind. Within 50 metres of the finish line are 2 café’s offering hot food and drink, the main indoor toilet block allowing safe changing (It wasn’t the ritz but it was good enough). The Goody bag is always a personal thing. I have to admit I’m not that bothered, after all the medals are usually cheap bits of tin that you chuck in the bottom of a drawer later anyway. I appreciate that some will want more and some will be happy. So. There are those who would want space blankets and a celebrity announcer at the finish line and those who like me appreciate the location and it’s inherent beauty which was dampened by the weather, but there are those who very clearly did not heed the weather warnings and perhaps not read the instructions sent out by the race organisers. As for me…I really enjoyed it, I had my waterproof jacket on having checked the weather, I got to the start in time having read the instructions, I used the toilets at the main start to have a wee before the race, I was able to enjoy the route without worry, I was comfortable and I finished with a PB. I finished the race, walked to my car and got my warm clothes, changed in the large toilet block and warmed up before a drive home.
In short: PB but no medal to show for it!!! In full: My sixth marathon and a PB but no medal to display with my others!! Now I know that most runners have enough medals but doing a marathon especially in those conditions deserves a medal and some one from fat feet to hang it around your neck and say well done!!
The cadets were fantastic, one even ran out from the drink station to hand me a gel. Well done to all of them.
As for the route, its one of the best locations to run and I was lucky to train for my first two marathons along the route.
Just the lack of a medal and support at the end (not even a space blanket when I was shivering so much on the drive home)put more of a dampner on the race than the weather. Date of review: November 6, 2012
In short: A Race That Leaves A Smile On Your Face In full: This was my first ever marathon and now that I'm recovering I can say "I really enjoyed this race."
The scenery was lovely even in it's blanket of cloud and rain and well worth putting up with the conitions.
The course was undulating rather than hilly, nothing too dramatic. Though the long slow drag up hill from Manton was tough to cope with on empty legs.
The cadets were AMAZING considering the conditions and how long they were out there for. Well done to them.
The only real issue I had was with the timing mats. On passing the peninsular mat for the first time the cadet stopped me as it had not beeped. Only by squatting really low did it beep. The problem? I had my race number on my chest and not my belly! The cadet laughed his head off when I crossed it the second time - in a low running squat at speed... but I got my bleep. At the finish line I almost had to go down on all fours to beep... not easy after a freezing 26.2. I wonder if many have fallen foul of this issue?
Support and organisation. Yes... maybe it seems a bit overpriced due to it's lack of extras, but the basics were there.
I am now a marathoner and will be back in 2013. When can I sign up again?
In short: Cold Wet and little support at the finish. In full: This is a really nice and scenic marathon. Watch out for the large amount of cattle grids. However if you pick a bad day for it,it is very testing. We had rain all the way through and had the occasionial deep puddle to run through Waiting at the finish was no medal, no space blankets and hot drinks to look forward to. The finish line soured my experience of my first marathon! Im sure if you get a good day for it, it would be awesome Date of review: November 6, 2012