In short: best marathon In full: I ran this as my first double marathon, and first trail run. it was tough, toughest race ive ever ran. the hills are brutal, as is the trail parts. im a road runner, and this was way out of my comfort zone, but it proved to be the most enjoyable and most beautiful marathon I've done. the organisation is brilliant, always a marshal close by. well marked course, and fantastic atmosphere highly recommend this to anyone Date of review: March 10, 2014
In short: Brutal trail marathon, glorious scenery In full: This was my FIRST marathon. A tough brutal 26.2 miles of hills and mud. But, being a local boy and lucky enough to have a good chunk of the course on my doorstep, I thought I'd train up and give it a go. Previous to Bolton Hill, I'd only ever ran Half's on the roads, so this was a BIG leap forward. I only mention this, because I wouldn't want any beginner runners in the future to be put off entering this race. Hill Runner, and it's director Philip Eccleston, were welcoming and encouraging from the first moment I enquired about entering. Bolton Hill has a generous 8 hour time limit, is organised like clockwork, and the Marshall's art the food/water stations were brilliant, offering water, gels, jelly babies and flapjacks,... And more importantly, applause and support and cheer on the runners passed by. Make no mistake, the word HILL is in this race title for a reason. It is hilly, and has patches of mud, and fallen trees, and will ache your body during the run, and after it! But WOW! If you want to run a marathon across open moorland, along thin stone trails, past streams and waterfalls, and woodlands, with stunning viewpoints...then this is the marathon for you! For the hardened experienced trail runner - this will still be a worthy challenge for you. But for the beginner, train up and give it a go! "Brutal" seems to be a key adjective for this run, and rightly so! I shall be back in 2015, loved it!! Date of review: March 9, 2014
In short: Tough yes, but if you only do one hill marathon do this one!! In full: This is my first marathon. I admit that it this would be considered by some as a very silly idea but I wanted my first marathon to be one I would remember. I wanted it to be an experience that I wouldn't forget, and that if I never do another marathon I wanted my first one to be worth all the training, effort, worry, nerves etc etc. Well this one is worth all that and more.
I cant fault the organisation of the race, I knew from looking at the information on the website how tough this was going to be and it lived up to that reputation and was so much tougher than that! I would only recommend this as a first marathon if you like a challenge, want lots of tough hills and mud. If you love cross country or/and fell races this is a must do race. The variety of surfaces and the views certainly made for the most interesting race I have done in 4 years of running. I never got bored, never wished for it to end. I found the course very tiring but extremely rewarding. This is one race that once you've done it will earn you unquestionable respect within the running community in my opinion. Go on, enter, you know you want too! Its the one race you will never regret doing. Date of review: March 9, 2014
In full: Race Report This was my first trail marathon, so if you are thinking of giving it a go I hope you find my race report useful. The very wet winter made the course much muddier than usual. The first 3.8 miles is a 320m ascent, two-thirds on road and last third on a trail path, don’t go out too fast and you should get to the top okay. 3.8-5.3 is down the other side of Smithills Moor which was very muddy, I gave up trying to keep my feet dry and don’t try to run too fast through deep mud otherwise you will lose your shoe! There is a water station at the bottom at 5.7. You are then onto a “Roman Road” which has lots of big sharp stones which are almost impossible to avoid and will reduce your pace even though reasonably flat. I had road shoes on and could really feel the stones, unlike trail shoes which I understand have a reinforced midsole for protection. The Roman Road finishes just before mile 9 and then it’s downhill on a steep, muddy trail path, watch your step here, I saw two people fall over. You are at the bottom at 10.8 by a little footbridge over a small river and then there is a short but very steep hill as you climb out of this little river valley, so either push through it or walk with the “hands pushing off your knees” technique. The path improves, turning into road until getting to a water station at mile 12. Then you go over a road bridge and head north beside a small tree lined river which is a bit muddy in places but nice and flat; at 14.4 you cross the river and up a small but noticeable hill through a wood. At mile 15 you are out of the wood and coming down the other side of the river and can see runners on the other side. I found mile 15-16 difficult; the path is narrow, muddy and full of large stones and slowed me down considerably, I saw another person fall over here. At mile 16 the path starts to improve until you get to the 16.7 water station by the road bridge again. You are now running along the reservoir in a little woodland, the path is muddy with a few rocks but not too bad. The path starts improving as you see woodland walk signs at approximately mile 18 but then there is more “Roman Road” sharp stones at mile 19. The path then becomes more reasonable, but watch out for the busy road crossing at mile 21. Remember there is now 2 miles of ascent and then it’s all downhill, so don’t give up now! The hill path by the side of the school was incredibly muddy which forced me to walk in places as very slippery, there is a brief respite as you hit a road for 200m which is flat and then you push up another stony, muddy trail path to mile 22. You are now on a flat “Roman Road” with sharp stones again, a brief respite from ascent until water station at 22.8 where you are faced with the last hill. Not as big as the one before, reaching the top in 400m, the trail path is a little muddy and stony but reasonable, but the top section reduced me to a walk, pushing off my knees. Now it is all downhill with mud to contend with until you get to the 63 steps at 25.1 which has a handrail and they are not too steep for wobbly legs. You are now on a good road until entering Moss Bank Park where you run over grass for the last 0.2 miles to the finish line. This was my first off-road marathon; it was exhilarating. The time passed quickly in my head because I spent so much time focussing on my foot placement which was a useful distraction from fatigue. I recommend buying trail shoes and if your target is +4 hours to take your own water and energy gels as there are only four water stations. This race is definitely worth a go. I found it small, friendly, cheap, well organised and easy to get to.
In short: Great race, well organised, beginner friendly, but very tough In full: This is my second year doing the BHM and it seems to be going from strength to strength on an organisational level. It is the toughest race that I have ever done, but the amazing course, volunteers and organisers keep me coming back for more. I I will definitely be on the start line next year, maybe on both days....... Date of review: March 9, 2014
In short: Brutal! In full: Fantastic plod round some great (if very muddy) scenery. Tough race, a mix of road, track and open land. The hill at 21 miles was positively sadistic, but the sense of achievement of completing it more than made up for it. The marshals were superb and always cheery and deserve a special mention for keeping the spirits up. The whole organisation was the best I've seen, with water, electrolyte, flapjack, jelly babies and gels available at the checkpoints. Might do the two day back-to- back if my legs have recovered by next year! Date of review: March 9, 2014
In short: Really really hard work! In full: My first pop at a "proper" marathon after previously doing only ultra distance walking events - wanted to see if I could up my average speed a bit. As one of the back markers after all the proper runners had long gone, was amazed by the unfailing cheeriness of the marshals towards the end of a long day, and the fact that the photographers were still out taking pictures. Really fantastic day, huge thanks to everyone involved! Date of review: March 9, 2014