In short: Very pleasant run, with some really lovely bits. Lacked signage in places, but the well-stocked aid stations made up for it. In full: I left the race with a good feeling. Race HQ was a comfortable school hall, quite close to Farnham station (a bonus for the non-driver). The race was tough in places, definitely not a fast one, but you established that fact pretty quickly and just got on with enjoying the race. Plenty of stretches of running alone but some nice scenery kept your mind occupied. Ace aid stations but a couple more would have been ideal. Better offical race signage is definitely needed - especially at around mile 2 or 3 in the first wooded area - but I'm sure that will be resolved for the race's second outing. Good t-shirt and medal. Nice people. Date of review: August 15, 2011
In short: Excellent, well organised, fun race. In full: The North Downs Way proved to be a fun course, plenty of challenges but nothing that was going to do you in. The double climb to St. Martha's was an energy sapper but the view made it all worthwhile.
I was one of the mugs who blindly followed those in front of me. It wasn't until I hit the "one mile to go" sign at the 26 mile mark that I knew something was amiss. It all came down to missing a marker in the 2nd mile. Once the numbers thinned out navigation was faily easy, after the intersections you could spot the now familiar red and white marker tape on a tree or a post.
The finishing point was a highlight of this fairly minimilist event - the rear of a BP garage. The organizers were there with a walm welcome along with groups of fellow competitors with smiles on their faces and lots of kind words.
Great medal and t-shirt, maybe we'll get the 2011 one next year. Date of review: August 15, 2011
In short: Superb new addition to calendar In full: Not as hilly as some but challenging enough with plenty of ascent/descent. Run over a variety of tracks, trails and sand with a few bits of tarmac as well. I found route OK, basically anything other than the NDW isn't the route. Aid stations at 7, 13, 20 mile is less than the norm for roadies but they were adequate for my needs and they were the best stocked I've ever seen. Views at St Marthas worth the climb. Not a criticism but because of the route and terrain they'll never be able to have the mass numbers preferred by some and I'd expect this to really suit those who don't mind running alone for long periods with the occasional chat as you fall in others now and then and stop at aid stations for a feed and a natter. Definately not a PB course - enjoy the views and conviviality at the stations! 8th for me so far in 2011 and only the absolutely stunning LDWA SDW marathon rates higher - and thats only for the scenary. Well done to everybody involved and see you next year. Date of review: August 15, 2011
In short: Fantastic scenic course with some testing hills In full: I was really impressed by this event. Race HQ fine at a school. The race staff had been there all morning seeing off those 50 and 100 miler nutters. Start was a way off over the railway and then the course follows the North Downs Way - so the markers were a mix of the official footpath signage, centurion black/yellow neon arrows plus some small yellow ground flags in places. The problem was that the sharp left turn at about mile 2 had no centurion marker. I only went the right way because someone spotted the NDW arrow and called a load of guys back who had gone straight on. By mile 4-5, suddenly I was being overtaken by loads of runners (so clearly I had gone wrong or they had - I ran 26.3m in the end). At the feed station it became clear that some people had already put in an extra mile or so - glad it wasn't me.
The rest of the run takes you up and down some good hills, Tarmac, woodland path, sand tracks (horrible) and eventually up to St Martha's church, back down and then quickly back up. There was about 2,500 ft of climb so quite bumpy. Much of it was familiar from the Farnham Pilgrim last year. The out-and-back worked well for me.
The finish was pretty low key, tucked behind a petrol station. But then parts of this race were pretty quiet - being near the back and only 70-odd runners meant it was all pretty split up beyond 20 miles. Almost like a training run.
I must give mention to the feed stations - best ever for drinks, sweets, savouries - really really good. Would have preferred to see them every 4 or so miles but I guess this is focussed on the ultra's events not marathon nancies.
Parking by race HQ was simple but perhaps next time I will pay to park at Farnham station so I don't need to hobble all the way back as finish was some way from HQ.
A good event with great terrain and scenery. Beats the sh*t out of roadies. Date of review: August 15, 2011
In short: NDW is guaranteed quality trail marathon material. In full: Route marking was on the slim side, I went adrift twice losing a good few minutes overall. Bigger clearer marking would have sorted this or flour/sawdust trail laid at critical points ahead of race start. Drinks stations excellent. Long slog back from finish to HQ. Great shirt and medal....hadn't spotted the date typo!! Hope to do again next year, but with Farnhams Pilgrim so close I may opt for an easier navigational run instead. Date of review: August 14, 2011
In short: lovely race but tough on all that soft sand that went on for miles! In full: well organised tough race (my slowest marathon yet), a larger pool of runners would have added to the atmosphere and made the course easier to negotiate! Still I found a few people to plod around with,everyone was very friendly! Some of the course was quite hard to work out where to go and I believe some runners may have got lost! The aid stations were brilliantly stocked and I looked forward to my cup of coke at each one!!! Excellent quality T-shirt and medal at the end too, even if it did say 2012! Date of review: August 14, 2011