In short: Monmouth 11km challenge run In full: This was my first outing to the 11km Challenge run. Entering the race was a bit tricky as the website was not intuitive and there was the impediment of having to register with another website to then enter.
When I showed up on the day the registration hall way empty apart from me and the race official. It transpired that there were 6 entrants in the race. You could feel the tumbleweed atmosphere slightly.
The start ran late which was a slight inconvenience. I felt as though this race was a bit of a sideshow for the main aquathlon (swim and run event). There was a good mix of club runners, so the standard was good having said this.
The course was picturesque and lovely running alongside the Wye and crossing the bridges. There was a detour apparently just after the halfway stage that was not fully marked in my view and I got lost at one turn. This cost me time.
Another section was described by the race organiser as a jungle at the pre-race briefing. They were accurate in this description. I sense that someone had just gone round on the morning of the race and hacked a foot wide path through the stingers and japanese knotweed to allow passage. This meant the going was arduous under foot as the cut back rod of weeds were knarlly underfoot. I didn't appreciate this, and it just became a grind rather than a challenege as it just went on for too long. I tripped on the undergrowth. A bit later on I was concentrating so hard on conditions under foot that I bumped my head on an overhanging tree. Damned if you do etc.
The marshalling was a little worrying at stages. As someone who has marshalled at other races quite a lot I found it patchy in places. Particularly towards sections where the path comes to road junctions. I just sense they were struggling for marshalls as they could have done with twice as many. Which, given my race fee I was surprised this aspect wasn't better. As it represented poor value for money.
Having said all of these concerns you can't take away the fact that this area is spectacularly beautiful. There were sufficient refreshment stations for water etc. I think the organisers just need to decide what they want to be focusing on, a run or the aquathlon. From here they need to concentrate on the things that matter. Date of review: July 29, 2014