In short: My 1st Ultra!!! In full: Was really looking forward to my 1st Ultra and to be fair I wasn't very dissapointed, the organisers were friendly and informative, the marshalls at the checkpoints were enthusiatic and encouraging especially towards the end, the route was hard and probably hillier then i'd expected but manageable. The route was obviously well worked out, although through the parks towards the end it would have been nicer to have some additional signs, I and a couple of guys got lost twice due to missing the sign which is very easily done, but overall I enjoyed it.
The only negatives were the lack of proper changing facilities (toilets do not count) and the number pick up at the expo, this I felt was a waste of time as the number and map could have been posted which would have saved me a few hours in travelling, much worse for those travelling from outside London, aside from these points I actually had a great day, met some great people and enjoyed the atmosphere amongst the runners.
Thanks again to Jen and Rory and all the other organisers and volunteers who helped make this a great event. Date of review: February 25, 2011
In short: Accessible and friendly short ultra, could do with better navigation prompts In full: This was my first Ultrarace and I found it a very enjoyable experience, despite an abundance of slippery mud (and the 'wrong' shoes!) and more hills than I thought existed in London.
Pros: - I found the whole event to be very relaxed and friendly. Rory and Jen are very accessible and 'hands on', available at the 'Expo', start of the race and there to shake your hand, give you your medal and congratulate you at the finish... a nice touch - the route is very varied, with a good mixture of urban roads, pavements, tracks, trails and off-road... keeps it interesting - great technical shirt IF you're prepared to pay £20 (see below) - 9 bars were given out at the check stations tasted really good - I'll be buying more of these Cons: - I was expecting a shirt but was told by Rory that we had to pay for these... very surprising to me and contradicted the race confirmation email that very nice 100 marathon club member had in her handbag! I paid up for a shirt, but this did make me query value for money and whether to enter future events - the refreshment provisions were rather spartan: 9 bars, flapjack, a few sweeties and some water... some bananas and gels would have been much appreciated - there were far too few directions and 'Ur' markers. Can I suggest that the oirganisers print out some basic directions as is common on LDWA challenge events... these would be really helpful since too many of us got lost! - no need for an expo for an event of 200 people... much easier to mail out the number and save the cost of an overnight stay in a hotel Thanks
In short: A good first ultra... In full: My first attempt at beyond marathon distance and I enjoyed the weekend immensely.
Yes - I got muddy, lost a couple of times and was glad that I was on my own for the 3 hour drive home due to the lack of showers at the finish. But did I care? Maybe if it wasn't my first Ultra I might have been a bit more critical - we'll see next year as I'll be back! Date of review: February 22, 2011
In short: Surprisingly scenic - but also surprisingly muddy and hilly. A good intro to ultras In full: 50km around SW and NW London, about half of which was through parks and greenery and a third was on mud! Didn't know this part of London very well, and the varied scenery (park, river, canal, Richmond, Harrow and lot more besides) was a delight (, although I was surprised by quite how many (smallish) hills there were in an area I thought to be fairly flat.
Good as an intro to ultras, although you needed to keep your wits about you crossing busy roads (no marshalls except at the water points) and spotting signs: I'd guess that nearly everyone took a wrong turn at least once, and I had to rely on helpful "they went thataways" from friendly passers by.
Could have done without having to traipse back and forth across London to pick up race number the day before, and thought 40 quid was a bit steep for a medal and 4 water points. A running top would have been nice, and most comparable events seem to be able to stretch to this. Date of review: February 22, 2011
In short: A great crowd, a great route, a great day In full: Really enjoyed the second year of this race. They have obviously taken on board where people got lost last year and improved the signage, as well as changing hotels to somewhere more welcoming with an allocated warm room for us and a massage. Bit of a silly loop at the beginning but a good warm up for the route ahead which was mostly flat with 2 killer muddy walked-by-most hills thrown in during the 2nd half. Good to see the race growing and I'll be back again next year to hopefully knock some more minutes off (gotta do some more hill training!) Date of review: February 21, 2011
In short: A good introduction to trail ultras In full: I entered this race to avoid the time and expense of travelling to another race outside of London (where I live) so was very disappointed to have to spend 2 1/2 hours trekking over to Wembley and back to collect a race number and a map (thanks but no thanks to free bird food bars). Nice to have the expo for those who are there, but a mighty pain in the arse for those who weren't. Jen and Rory were as charming and professional as ever and the checkpoints very friendly. There were a few unfortunate errors, like the coach transfer turning up late and delaying the start, and a few avoidable ones, like advertising a free t-shirt and changing at the end (the hotel loos don't count). For 40 quid, this is astonishingly expensive, I've seen better stocked water stations at every LDWA event and big city marathon I've run. The atmosphere among the runners was excellent and it felt very collaborative. This didn't prevent many missing the turn off the Capital Ring near the end. A big yellow sign, like those found in the first km, was required here and wasn't so far from the finish that the sweeper runners couldn't have collected it. There were a few issues with the map, clearly a lot of effort had gone into it but some sections didn't fit together. Overall, this was very welcoming and an excellent introduction to new ultra runners. It's just not worth the money. Sorry Rory. Date of review: February 21, 2011
In short: Enjoyable but far more difficult to navigate and more hills than expected. In full: Agree with previous comment about no real need for the expo and the stay overnight. Was expecting a shirt as per previous year but ended up buying one for £20 in the end. I thought the navigation was very tricky and everyone i was with and talked to afterwards had gone wrong more than once. The hills and mud were also harder than expected, my garmin reckoned i climbed over 6000 feet over the 32 miles i covered. Having said all that the organisers and checkpoint volunteers were brilliant and was probably one of the friendliest races i have run in. Had a great day for my first ultra. Date of review: February 21, 2011
In short: I never realised London was so hilly or so muddy. In full: Great introduction to running beyond Marathon distance. The hills and the saturated clay mud made it impossible to run for large stretches. Would recommend trail shoes rather than road shoe. The organisation was good and I am sure this race will continue to grow into a much bigger event. Date of review: February 21, 2011
In short: Very nice route through London showing some unexpectedly pleasant parts! In full: Pros
1) Surprisingly scenic point to point race ending in Wembley through a whole host of parks, canals and waterways that otherwise you'd probably rarely every visit.
2) Very pleasant atmosphere with the other runners, everyone very chatty and positive.
3) The whole race atmosphere from the organizers and volunteers was all very upbeat, can do and knowledgeable (except see below).
4) Aid stations were well stocked and crewed by very encouraging and enthusiastic people.
5) Nice medal at the end.
1) The expo (for a race of 200-250 people) took three minutes to navigate the 2/3 stalls and pick up the number (there was no chip timing to sort out). I'm sure many people found the speakers interesting, but not for me, and making people go to this rather than just pick up the numbers on race morning just means either a lot of extra hassle/expense/driving, or an unnecessary hotel night. Have an expo by all means absolutely but don't force people to attend, for this reason alone I wouldn't do the race again.
2) The maps handed out had gaps in them, especially between map 1 and map 2, which involved several changes in direction...
3) The bus dropped runners off maybe half a mile from the start, despite at one point being 100 yards away, by the time we got there it was 5 minutes and off we go, I am sure I'm not alone in feeling rushed.
4) I was near the back and the "check points" weren't checking people off as stated. By the time we got to check point three the crew were rather frustrated as at least a dozen people had gone through AFTER the sweeper runners... nobody there at least seemed to know who was on the course. Am hoping nobody got seriously lost/injured en route as I don't think anyone would know remotely where they were.
5) Disappointed at no tech t-shirts this year, or any t-shirt for that matter. So for £40, it's not great value.
6) The route requires a fair bit of navigation and a lot of concentration to get around, I must have spoken to a dozen people who had gone wrong to one degree or another. I think perhaps the navigational aspect needs to be highlighted more and people ready for that, whilst there are many signs, the styles/locations/sizes vary and it's just very easy to miss one and if you're not 100% on the ball where you are, you're quickly off route...