In short: Couldn't even be bothered to reply to an email! In full: Unfortunately I didn't even get to run this race as I was injured so I asked if I could transfer my number 3 weeks in advance...and then again at 2 weeks and they couldn't even be bothered to deign to reply (not even a 'sorry no' so in short, no I wouldn't bother with a Black sheep event again. Date of review: August 9, 2010
In short: Tough but enjoyable run slightly let down by organisational detail In full: Really enjoyed the run through parkland in perfect weather. The course was tougher than expected - slightly longer than a HM, sections along stony, rooty narrow track, couple of steep slow hills. This made it a good challenge though.
The race director said he wanted feed back, so here goes: What could be better next year? Make it clear to runners what we are letting ourselves in for: there are lots of ways of showing what the course is like underfoot, for instance a few snaps on the website or a brief description in the info pack. Tell us about the paths, the roots, the overhanging trees, then we know what to expect on the day. If I'd known about the overlength course and lack of mile markers beforehand, I could have decided whether to do the run on that basis, instead of feeling resentful on the day. The advertised energy drinks at half way weren't apparent when I got there, so maybe clearer signs needed here. More men's toilets would improve pre-run nerves. The lack of pre-race information made me feel that Black Sheep were treating the race as an afterthought - there was nothing but a brief email a few days before the run to encourage me. Their website made no attempt to reward a visit with any information updates. I thought the rest of the organisation was fine, without excelling.
In short: A pleasant sunday morning run In full: Yes organisation was a bit "sketchy" considering the entry fee, but this was a trail run. The route was marked, its not as if you were responcible for your own navigation. Tree roots and other hazards are all part of trail running. Overall this was an enjoyable sunday morning run, perhaps it would have been better to be out in the wider country side a bit more. two roe deer crossed right in front of me at one point and I won a small cash prize for my age group! Would do it again. Date of review: August 5, 2010
In short: Jocular announcer fed to pack of angry runners In full: A previous post compared this to a very expensive training run and I would agree. The run itself was challenging in a good way, hills at the end of each loop, lots of ducking and diving (although a spot of route clearance wouldn't have gone amiss). The organisation was pretty shocking though.
From the shocking signeage to get to the actual site, through to sending the whole course through forest tracks, to staffing the drinks stations with some very underwhelmed teenagers (Scouts aside - they were fab!) who had obviously not had a briefing on how to run a water station, to the very laid back 'Oh we ran the course last night and it was a bit short so we changed the route' in the pre-race briefing.
I know this was a first race for them but you'd have thought that as Black Sheep have run a few races before, they might have been able to get the basics right. Again, I wouldn't complain if it had billed itself as a pilot and charged less. But to be charged £20 for 2 plastic cups of water (when I could be bothered to wait), a medal, and then be expected to find my way round when I lost the main pack and pick up some poor chap who had keeled over on a root too many and play hunt the first aid team.....not good enough.
Good points: Speedy and efficient registration. No q's for the ladies - let me just repeat that as the novelty still hasnt quite worn off - No q's for the ladies! And a snaking q for the gents.
I think what left a sour taste was the blase approach of the pre-race brief and medal bit. Aside from the distance remark, the chap also said that it got a bit narrow in parts but that there were plenty of places to overtake and anyway they didnt take up much distance. I'm guessing he never ran the course. Date of review: August 4, 2010
In short: What did the entrance fee go on? In full: According to their website, Black Sheep Sports have put on other races... You wouldn't have known that judging by this debacle. How did I find the race? By playing 'spot the red arrow' until I found the car park (complete with obligatory non-flushing toilet). The same type of red arrows were used to mark out the race route, which was fortunate because there was very, very, few Marshals on hand to point the way and more than one runner took a wrong turn... The, 13.5(?) mile 'Half Marathon & a bit' route itself (a 'guesstimate' distance not measured by the organisers & not holding a certificate of accuracy) was quite dangerous in places, with low branches & covered tree routes in abundance, with more than several runners taking a tumble & drawing blood (inadequately covered by less than a handful of medical personnel) and as it was single track in more than a few long sections it very difficult to overtake slower runners - especially when encountering a dog walker happily strolling along, chatting on her mobile phone, whilst her dogs did their best to trip people up... The three water stops were poorly staffed, in fact the best liquid refreshment was that sold by the local Scout troop at the finish. And finally at the end of the race there was no official photographer and no goody bag - only plastic cups of water and a really cheap looking medal (which you can get from Running Imp, complete with engraving, for 69p). A bit naughty really, especially when you consider that 286 runners paid £15-£20 each to take part. I've run in small Rotary Club/Scout/Village Hall organised races that provided so many of the things that this race was lacking. This race was definately not worth the entrance fee, which is a shame as it could have been oh so much better than it was... Date of review: August 3, 2010
In short: Bit steep - both the incline and the price In full: This was a challenging, off road half marathon with a small section on narrow, single file, woodland paths and the majority on wider woodland trail or grass.
The organisation for parking and registration was good. The unmeasured course and lack of mile makers was disappointing, especially for the fee paid.
I would probably return as I do like the location and it is a challenging course but would hope it was measured and the narrow sections revised. Date of review: August 3, 2010
In short: Badly organised, not measured and wasted a great venue In full: I like my half marathons to be 13.1 miles - and to be told at the start it's a little long on a different route to that advertised isn't acceptable.
To use a great locationj and then run for the best part of 6 miles on narrow woodland paths seems a waste of potentially a great venue.
No results posted 24 hours after.
The race is organised by black sheep - presumably for profit. It showed, little attention to detail and poor value.
In short: A challenging off road race In full: The venue wasn't the easiest to find a single red arrow to give you a clue! The route was challenging a mix of narrow paths over roots & exposed stones, broader dirt paths, gravel trails and ankle high grassed field (till the front runners had flattened it). Water stop, not enough people handing out the cups of water. Route finding was awkward at times not enough markers no mile markers. Scenery would have been nice to look at if you weren’t looking at the train just in front of you to avoid all the hazards Date of review: August 2, 2010