In short: A well organised multi terrain race In full: The second running of the NF Forest Marathon at its new venue. I collected my race pack and parking ticket the Friday before, which obviated the need to arrive ridiculously early on the day.
The Organisers had listened to last years constructive comments and changed the course to include more off road, and improved the signage, which was a bit iffy, or non existent in place last year. Energy drinks were an improvement over messy gels which are difficult to open, sticky, and get thrown on the ground, spoiling the forest. The Marshalls were helpful and encouraging and the water stations were well staffed by enthusiastic helpers. There was lots of encouragement from spectators enjoying the sunshine, which helped to keep us all going.
I will definitely do the marathon again next year, all being well. Date of review: September 15, 2016
In short: Ironed out the logistics from last year to make a fantastic race In full: My third time at the New Forest Half - last year the traffic gridlock beforehand was a problem, but all the issues had been ironed out this year. The course was also tweaked to add more forest trails and the atmosphere was wonderful. Definitely one of the best events on the regional calendar now. Date of review: September 14, 2016
In short: A marathon of two halves. In full: This was my first New Forest Marathon, and it will also be my last due to a few niggly issues. I will deal with these first as there were many good points as well. My main gripe would be the signage. There were many occasions on the marathon course where it was not easy to find the way. With the small marathon field we were spread out quite early on and I, as a back marker, found myself running alone quite often. Towards the ends, around about 23 miles I even took a wrong turn, following a small group ahead of me, I realised I had gone wrong and had to use my phones to look up the route map to work out where to go - this should not happen. (I have no idea where the group ahead of me went, perhaps they are still lost?). Whilst most of the marshals were lovely and smiled and encouraged us as we passed there were a fair few who seemed disinterested in those of us slower runners/walkers. At one point I was virtually next to a marshal before he pointed me in the correct direction, he was too busy talking to people walking by. He appeared to be giving them directions, which is fair enough, but as I tired runner, I should have been his priority. Water in cups. I know bottles cost more money, but they are so much easier to use. My partner, who finished in the top 10 was reduced to a standstill at the water stations, not something the fast paced runners want to be doing. The 'gel' drinks were very weak. We had been expecting actual 'gels' not a diluted mix. I am glad I had a couple with me. There should also have been clear signage telling us which side of the road to run on as often I would start on one side and then the runners ahead of me were crossing over, leaving me in a dangerous position because oncoming cars may have been paying more attention to the other runners. But... The race village was excellent, with lots to keep people entertained whilst they were there. Registration was well organised, we picked up our number/chip with no issues first thing in the morning. We had headed the organisers plea to arrive early and were able to pack close to the race village. The scenery was, of course, lovely. There cannot be many UK races where you may have to stop to let a pony and her foal walk across in front of you! Neither of us want to do the full marathon again, but will more than likely sign up for the half, as the course does not include long sections on open roads. Despite my gripes about the marathon we did come away with good memories. Date of review: September 13, 2016
In short: Wow, just wow In full: It was a very last minute thing me doing this half marathon, I found out the Friday before that I had won a competition so it was a mad dash, 6:00am start, two hour drive down to the New Forest and it was worth every minute of my sacrificed lay in.
The welcome at the registration tent was wonderful, the tshirt pre-race was something different, as were the Garmin sweat bands. The wonderfully cheerful lady also handed my two sons sweat bands to make them feel part of the day.
After a little walk around seeing what the local businesses had to offer, I made my way to the group work out where I got a nice shout out and round of applause for winning the competition, then we made our way to the start line.
The loud horn sounded and I set off at a quick pace, getting covered in mud from the puddles and the woman in front of me who also forgot to put her mud guards on her shorts.
The course was without doubt the most beautiful place I have run in. The scenery was gorgeous: huge redwood trees, rivers and streams galore, beautiful trails and smiling marshals. The atmosphere around the race itself was quiet and tranquil, but there were some pockets of support around the course which was lovely.
Towards the end of the race, we entered an open part of the race and I saw a group of beautiful wild horses galloping around... and then crossing the road in front of all of us! There's a joke about a zebra crossing in there somewhere....
We got back into the forest for the last couple of miles and running parellel with the pathway were more wild horses. It was a surreal experience and one I will honestly remember for the rest of my life, like something out of a film. Watching these majestic animals just inspired you to run quicker... until they crossed the pathway again and held up the race for a couple of seconds. Noone minded though, it was beautfiul witnessing them.
We left the forest and made our way back to the race village, one final outer loop of the field and I crossed the finish line in 1:27:03 and came 41st overall.
What a race, I absolutely loved it and my only regret was that I never did the 26.2. But saying that, I will be there in 2017 taking part.
After getting my race medal and goody bag, I mingled with all the other runners and watched the fantastic live band playing. If it wasn't for the early start the next morning, I would have stayed all day enjoying the party.
Thank you New Forest, can't say enough how amazing it was. Date of review: September 12, 2016
In short: Glorious scenery In full: A very pleasant race in a charming area of South England. The event was well organised and it made a good day out for the family. The atmosphere was friendly and the marshals were very encouraging and helpful. Personally I would have preferred more of the course on the road. My only grumble is that the water was given in cups. Date of review: September 12, 2016
In short: Marathon on the doorstep what's not to like In full: Puzzled at why some have complained, we sailed in and out of the car parks being local and semi listening to the advice, we choose not to arrive so early but no problems anywhere to be seen.
Course itself was as describe,d having run around the area knew what was coming though still made it no easier going, never intended to get a PB from this course just enjoy the day, none of my fellow club mates had anything negative to say a great day out.
Yes the mile markers did go astray I think around 15 miles they where a mile or more out, still had to run 26.2 miles so it made no difference.
Hoping to do this again next year while the early discounts are available, as this is a new event for the organisers I'm sure it will only get better.
Advise allowing plenty of time to get in though, while we encountered no problems there is only one route in, and entering from the north means you have to cross the adjacent lane of traffic so it slows everyone down. Date of review: October 29, 2015
In short: Abysmal organisation from new company ORA ruined it In full: Hopefully it is all down to first year teething issues and the parking, traffic queues, delayed starts, closed roads that weren’t and incorrect timings won’t be repeated.
Still, at £45 and from a commercial organisation they should already be competent, shouldn't they?
I won't be back. Date of review: September 23, 2015
In short: Nice enough course but much better value and friendlier races out there! In full: - course ok - atmosphere ok - marshalling ok (although one runner didnt think so after taking a wrong turn) - mile markers - not great e.g. 16 @ 14.5 - post race - nice medal however when i asked politely if i could have another bottle of water i was told bluntly NO! followed by a laugh! I understand there has to be enough for all but the half marathon was pretty much complete as were the other shorter races and there were hundreds upon hundreds of bottles spare. For £48 incl parking that is poor. Date of review: September 14, 2015
In short: Loved it In full: I loved everything about this race. I arrived an hour and a half before the start of the race as the organisers had asked people to arrive early and had no problem getting parked or collecting my race number. The marathon route was stunning, undulating throughout but not difficult. Marshalls were friendly and supportive and the route was well marked, although there was an absence of mile markers after 20 miles. The fabulous medal and technical t shirt finished off a great day. Date of review: September 14, 2015