In short: Tougher than a tough guy challenge, but fantastic cameraderie In full: Gruelling, and very very muddy on the day, thanks to the english weather! Steep hills, trail running throughout. The marshalls and support were the friendliest and most helpful I have ever encountered. A truly uplifting race Date of review: July 9, 2012
In short: Tough In full: Organisation at marathon start good as we had somewhere to sit around out of the sun. (I am led to believe the half start was a bit more open to the elements) The climb then the 5k of mud from 3-8 miles sapped the energy and made the long drag from 19-24 soul destroying. In all fairness it wasn't meant to be easy. I am a 3:40 (flat) to 4:00 (Off road but dry) marathon runner but had little change from 5hrs for this one Direction tape in the right places i.e. just when you think you are going the wrong way it appears. Excellent marshalling and water supplies seemed to be unlimited as I have been to events before where there has been a don't drink it all we haven't got enough attitude. Only disappointment was the medal. Granted, the race was a very reasonable price but with the Olympian tradition I was expecting something different, NOT expensive, just original. Nice friendly village fete type atmosphere (Think Midsummer murders with no murders) & Jonathan Edwards hanging around and chatting to all prior to the presentations. Date of review: July 9, 2012
In short: The first and last miles were pleasant in road shoes In full: Some of the grasslands and fields, albeit hilly in places were ok. And the disused railway track in the latter stages wasn’t too bad either. But elsewhere, aka the quagmire, road shoes were definitely not the footwear to use.
Ok, my fault, but I don’t do many trail races, so never really felt the need to have trail shoes before.
However, en route I never felt lost thanks to clear and regular signs marking the route, even on the rare occasions I was alone.
Drink stations were every few miles or so, and despite each one feeling like an oasis in a never ending desert, they gave you the opportunity to chat to friendly marshals and fellow runners also taking a breather.
I actually enjoyed the steady walk back from the finish to the car park, but then it was on lovely unwavering asphalt. And next year I think everyone should be forced to wear road shoes so that they can share the character-building experience I had. ;)
In short: THAT WAS TOUGH !!! In full: On the original entry form the organisers tried to disuade those not prepared from taking on the marathon distance, but after this the 'blog' and Facebook page, which appeared to be the source of information, seemed to play down the challenge of the elevation. For anyone considering this in the future, if it returns next year, just beware. Introduce some big climbs in to your training, and work on the miles, because this is no Virgin London Marathon, add 2 to 3 minutes per mile to your road marathon pace and you're pretty much on track. I have two criticisms, firstly the lack of an 'official' course map prior to the race. The course description given out was very detailed, but I can't see why it wasn't accompanied with a map, especially when said map did materialise in the commemorative goody bag at the finish. My second criticism was the 'lack' of a water station at about 23M, perhaps it was just me running out of steam, but I ran with 2 x 500ml of lucozade, and took on board lots of water at all of the water stations, but the long drag towards Much Wenlock was crying out for another water stop. I know that a water station requires vehicular access and so this may prove difficult, but it was isolated out there. The plus points, well everything else. It was a beast of a course, and even with the hazy start the views just after the Folly at 4M was amazing. The hills were tough, but what we signed up for. The course was waymarked superbly. As stated at times we were left to our own devices with no marshalls for a mile or so, but I never felt like I was going to veer off course. On the rare occasion when I thought am I going the right way I'd spot some red tape just in front and off I plodded. The underfoot conditions from 6M to 9M was out of the organisers control, and made the experience even more of a challenge. The course had been cut back in many places, and I'd love to shake the hand of the sadomachicist who plotted the route. The marshalls were a welcoming and friendly site, and the cheers coming in to the finish was amazing. To have Jonathon Edwards at both the start and finish was special, and he wasn't afraid to speak to competitors and spectators alike. It was a lovely day, and I was proud and privileged to have been able to be part of a little bit of Olympian history. As long as my shifts allow I'll be back next year. Oh, one last thing I water runs downhill in to the valleys, so how on earth did so much water find itself on top of the Edge, and during a drought as well !!! Date of review: July 9, 2012
In short: Mud is good and hills are our friends! In full: Did the half today and loved every minute of it, even the bits where I was scrabbling to stay on my feet. Very good value for money and impeccable organisation. Do agree about the medal, but certificate and map of route in goody bag a nice touch. Hope to have another go next year :-) Date of review: July 8, 2012
In short: brilliant organisation, lovely marshals, tasty cake but mud, hills and heat - tough! In full: Thank you to Chris and his team - must have put so much work into the event. Just a couple of suggestions. Perhaps buses could set off a little later to the start, as we were waiting a fair while at Craven Arms. Secondly, this more in jest - would be nice to have one of those little National Trust shuttle buses to get back to the car park after the event, that 15 min walk almost as hard as the marathon itself. Date of review: July 8, 2012
In short: Brutal ... but what a great day. Mud. Hills. What more could you want? In full: I'd been building up to this race for some time, it being my 7th marathon but I've only recently moved to more off-road events in training for the London to Brighton Ultra. I was looking for a challenging trail marathon and it certainly didn't disappoint.
The start facilities were brilliant and I think everyone was thrown by the fact that we enjoyed lovely warm sunshine, rather than the day of rain that had been forcasted for about a week! Getting Jonathan Edwards to start the race was a bit of a coup for the organisers and it was nice to see that he seemed genuinely interested and willing to chat. The pleasant jog across the fields and the first couple of miles of easy running didn't last long. The there was the brutal climb up to the Folly, including a murderous set of steep steps. And then the mud. Gloopy, sticky, wet ... and everywhere! There was a run of about a mile or so where every step sank you into 6" of the stuff. Thankfully I'd bolstered the elastic laces in my Brooks ASRs with a loop or two of hard tied lace otherwise I'd have lost them very early on! This pattern of long sections of quagmire repeated for the rest of the race.
At the halfway point we were treated to several fly-bys of a squadron of no less than 12 RAF Tornados flying in formation. How the organisers managed to book a flying display with the low entrance fee is beyond me! (There was some mild concerns that there had been a terrorist incident somewhere but the marshals appeared to be laid back enough to suggest all was well!).
The back 8 miles was a struggle, if I'm honest. It was all climb, climb apart from a couple of crazy steep descent sections where I barrelled completely out of control through the mud, and there was a real sense of relief when the little town of Much Wenlock came into view. The finish was also brilliant ... I held an Olympic Torch and chatted with Jonathan Edwards who was making time to speak to runners and sign certificates / pose for photos as well as hand out the medals.
All in all this was a bl**dy tough marathon; easily the toughest run I have ever done. But the organisation and particularly the marshals were superb. It ran like clockwork and there were some nice touches. The only gripe I had was the finishers medal. What we got was the sort of medal you get after a run of the mill 10k; I think an opportunity was missed here to have incorporated the Olympic Heritage to this race in a bespoke medal, but I guess that all costs money and to be fair, the entrance fee was very good.
Well done to all those involved in the organisation, particularly those who had obviously worked very hard to clear so much of the paths of nettles and overhanging branches .. it made such a difference. In the end we had glorious weather but the mud was a killer. I really hope that this becomes an annual event; I might even consider coming back next year ;-) Date of review: July 8, 2012