In short: A London Trail Half with a double helping of steep hill In full: I completed this half yesterday, this was my first trail half, and my legs may never forgive me for running up that hill. Twice.
This is a nice half which goes up onto Wimbledon Common from the playing fields off the A3. The entry limit is quite small, so you don't feel overwhelmed by queues for loos or baggage drop off. There is a small car park if travelling by car.
The first 1.5 miles are mostly uphill. You then get to run round the common for about 3.5 miles, before heading back downhill a fairly steeply decline. But, don't be deceived, that hill is hard work, we are talking a gain of about 45m in elevation. Don't underestimate this hill as you have to do it twice as this is a two lap course. Without the hill, I'd say it was a fantastic course especially for a trail first timer. With the hill - well it certainly makes it a challenge.
It was really nice running under trees for part of the run, although at times a little humid as it had been raining. There was mud, but it wasn't too bad - the puddles were misleading though and caught a few runners in above their ankles. At one point in the lap (so twice in race) you have to cross the main road into the common. First time round there were some very angry hooting drivers queueing, Lots of thanks to all the marshals, but especially to those who were holding the cars in place and taking the abuse from drivers.
Water was provided in two spots on the course, so you could grab a bottle 4 times if you wanted. Much better than being provided with cups.
Coming back down towards the start of 2nd lap, and the finish, the descent was quite fast although bits of it were single file. But the only place I really worried about footing was once we'd reached the bottom of the hill where there were some truly unruly roots out to get you.
The finish was slightly cruel - you actually run past the finish and the music and cheers and then have to go up the bottom of that hill before you turn back towards the playing fields with a short run back across grass to the finish line.
What was lovely - Being announced by name as I crossed the line Friendly and encouraging marshals Flapjack, banana, a cotton t-shirt (slightly disappointed it wasn't technical, but event is only £24) and bottle of water all laid out on tables. Being high fived by a womble Of course the womble medal, although it is a little diddy, it is small and perfectly formed. Running, in London, through woods.
Only criticisms - they don't have a covered baggage area, if it rains your bag will get wet. No-one was handing out medals or directing you to where to get them, alhtough once I'd got over having run 13.1 miles I managed to locate the tables. It wasn't perfectly clear where to turn off at for the finish - being nearer the back of the pack, I just followed others, but if you are a quicker runner and lapping the slower folks, then it may have been less than obvious.
Despite swearing I would never enter another half during the second lap of this course, after I had run up that hill a second time - I want to do it again. Date of review: June 1, 2015
In short: A proper trail half marathon in London In full: I'd intended to do the October 2014 race but had to defer due to injury. Fortunately, today's (March 22nd) race had perfect conditions - cool but sunny, with virtually no mud. It's a two lap race with a couple of steep climbs at the beginning of each lap. The rest is pretty flat with a fast downhill stretch near the end. I managed a PB but then this was only my second half and I'm on the slow side. Organisation was good and I'm very happy with my Womble medal. There is also fruit and flapjacks at the finish and a T-shirt, so it's good value for money. The only downside is that it's on the "wrong" side of Wimbledon Common, public transport-wise, so I got a cab there rather than mess around with buses I was unfamiliar with, particularly as public transport tends to be a bit crap early on Sunday mornings. I walked back to Wimbledon station to get some blood into my aching legs and that took quite a while so I wouldn't recommend it as a means to getting there. The Womble medal is cool and they're different depending on which race you do. However, they gave a tennis racquet medal out for the race that took place around Wimbledon last year so if you want a Womble, pick Spring or Autumn instead. Date of review: March 22, 2015
In short: The Womble's is back in town In full: Having done this course twice...I finally cracked it and got a pb on the course. Yes, a little bit of organising at the end would not go amiss with the water but I did enjoy the course and the scenic and the challenging hills. Date of review: October 13, 2014
In short: good trail run In full: Really enjoyed the race and the route. I am generaly not keen on laps but on this race you really did not notice when you started the second lap. Slowstart with hills and mud but able to pick up the speed with downhill running. Overall the course was very good and far better for the knees than running on concrete. The nearest to trail running you can get in London!
Just a small grumble needs more attention to detail after the race. Many runners had to ask where the water was, the person giving out the medals did not know. I was told to ask the guy at the bag drop off but he did not know. Eventually came across a table right at the far end. 2 extremely large container water bottles were left with no organiser there to help. Very difficult to lift two of us had to lift to pour whilst another held the cups. One guy became a bit fed up with everyone asking him to pour the water whilst he had the large water bottle lifted as I think he was in much need to just drink water:)
Also did not pick up the teashirt after crossing the line no one there giving them out so like the water you had to go and look for them and it went of of my mind after the race.
In short: Where was my womble medal?!! In full: Lovely race!! Really enjoyed the course, though the hill at the start (and again at miles 6-8 ish) was tougher than I'd anticipated! Was more trail-y than I had imagined too, so would be hard to get a pb unless you were very used to trails. Lots of marshalls and enough drinks stations and accurate mile markers, except 3 was either missing or not well located as I didn't see it on either lap! A pretty route, didn't get as congested as I'd thought it might, but I did get trapped behind some iPod wearing big men who couldn't hear me behind them and just blocked the path! I didn't get a Womble medal but a TINY tennis racquet one?!! So I'm not sure what happened there - I came about 140th out of 700 approx so unless they only gave them to the top few I don't know what happened?!!! Booooo! Cos mine was crap! Really small, the size of my door key! But you did get a tshirt, flapjack and fruit so for £24 I thought it was pretty good value, especially for London. Would definitely recommend and run again as really enjoyed it. Date of review: July 28, 2014
In short: Underground, overground, wombling free... In full: Wasn't overly looking forward to this race as I sheltered in my car from the pouring rain before the start of the race but turned out to be a pleasant experience!
There is free parking at the venue, & when I got there about an hour before the start there was plenty of places but it's not a massive car park & was quite full when I went back to my car at the end. The venue was a sports ground but there wasn't much to do for supporters while we were out running. Not many toilets but there weren't long queues as there wasn't a massive field of runners.
For someone who doesn't overly enjoy lapped routes, I found this route nice enough to enjoy on the second lap too. The recent rain had made the route extremely muddy in places which did slow you down a bit, especially at the start of each lap with a little climb.
There were a few supporters & marshals along the way but the rest of the time you get to enjoy the peacefulness of the route. People cheering you on at the end though & best of all was the Womble medal! A brilliant choice by the organiser. You even got a t-shirt too which was good considering it was a low priced HM. Date of review: May 12, 2014
In full: Nice scenic course, although not really a PB course due to it's off-road nature. I enjoyed not setting foot on pavement the whole way round! Very good value for money with nice medal and t-shirt and great marshals. Only problem was it was difficult to get to the start due to it being on the opposite side of the common to the tube/overground. Maybe the start/finish position could be altered to take in the same trails but provide easier access? Date of review: May 12, 2014
In short: Cheap, fun no frills scenic half marathon! In full: This was my first trail race, and I found it fun! The course is not a fast one - especially because of the rain leading up to it, which made some of the course a mud fest - but it is scenic, has lovely cheering marshalls with no fuss organization. The medal is fantastic and different - a Womble and you get a t-shirt all for a bargain price. Recommended, especially for the summer one when it should be drier and faster! Date of review: May 12, 2014