In short: Nice little half marathon and surprisingly picturesque In full: I wasn’t sure quite what to expect from this race having read mixed reviews from the previous year, but I was pleasantly surprised. It was obviously a cold day (what do you expect from December) and there was ice on the course in places, but nothing you wouldn’t encounter on your average winter run. For those of you who are interested, I’ve broken down the key thoughts from the race below. For those of you who aren’t – overall the race was good and I’d do it again.
Parking I turned up an hour before race start and managed to park in one of the public carparks right by the race HQ. I don’t know Milton Keynes that well and I found the carpark advice and map provided by the organisers to be a little pointless, as it listed the carparks by name on the advice (which ones to avoid etc) and by number on the map and there was no way of marrying the two up. Shortly after parking the typical race rush chaos ensued and the carpark filled up in no time, so I’d advise getting there a bit early to avoid a space hunt.
The Start The start was kind of broken into pens, but there were so many runners in the sub 1:40 category that it was a bit of a squeeze. Especially as the start/finish line is footpath width (you could get three abreast at a squeeze passing through). That said, the race was radio chipped so even if it took you an age to get started it didn’t really matter too much, as your time was recorded when you crossed the start line sensors.
There was a couple of burger vans and a coffee truck at the start so friends and family can grab something to eat. I’d suggest any people offering support wrap up warm as there is nowhere to shelter from the cold.
The Course The course is a mix of footpaths, towpaths and little bits of road. Nothing even approaching trails. It was quite picturesque following the canal and passing through a cute little village or two. There was thankfully very little of the bland concrete Milton Keynes you see when you drive to the shopping centre – the opposite in fact. It was very green. For those of you wanting to set a PB – I’d say this isn’t the best course for you. The route has a number of twisting turns and at points narrows so that it’s quite tricky to pass people. You also go over the canal a few times and through underpasses which mean the odd hump backed bridge and underpass ramp – which, although aren’t hills by any stretch of the imagination, they do throw your pace off as people bunch up. There aren’t really any hills to worry about except a long slope at mile 9.5 which according to my RunKeeper meant a climb of 100ft over a ¼ mile or so. I saw a few people blow up at this point and start walking so if you’re used to training on flat runs, treadmills etc I’d say it might be an annoying hill, but for everyone else – you’ll be fine. Word of warning – often the paths are edged with grass verges and these were very slippy. There’s also some really annoying yellow posts in the middle of the path after the start that are the perfect height to run into without seeing them. There were small mile markers every mileish (the 2 mile marker seemed off and so all my mile alerts came to early after that one). My GPS measured the course at 13.46 miles, but this also includes me zigzagging a lot to pass people, so I think it was pretty accurate.
Support The course was very well marshalled and lots of people were out to cheer you on, which was lovely. There were a few watering and fuel station along the route – the first water station at mile 3 (I think – I didn’t use it) had water bottles and there were cups at mile 6 and 11. I carry my own gels and water so I can’t say too much about these, but they seemed well staffed and well stocked. At the start there was a man on a mic geeing the crowd up and giving out useful info. He was a nice addition and organised everyone well and delayed the start to allow the few toilet stragglers to get to the line.
Toilets There was a men’s urinal and about 8-10 portaloos. There was no queue when I used the toilets and the portaloos were what you expect really. No complaints there. Towards the start of the race there was a queue for the toilets, but with the number of people in attendance and spectators it’s to be expected really.
Post Race Crossing the finishing line you were handed a medal and technical t-shirt. The medal is great. A snowflake and bauble design in a heavy solid medal. I like it a lot. The t-shirt is the normal technical running t-shirt you get at these races, so no complaints there. There were bottles of water at the finish and beetroot juice (wasn’t to my tastes, but then everyone to their own). The marshals at the finish were very supportive as was the crowd.
Things That Could Be Improved The mile markers were A4 sized and stuck on trees, posts etc and pretty easy to miss. I’d like to see them much larger. There are some annoying yellow posts just after the start in the middle of the path and it would be good to put a sign/marshal here to warn people as you don’t see them until your on them – and in my case I was boxed in and had to stop to go round them. It would be good to have to gun time clock at the finish time – would help find yourself in the pictures and be good for spectators.
In full: 1st time at this event and loved it. Hats off to the organisers for all their hard work before and during the race. Starting to the Benny Hill music was hilarious and couldn't help but make you smile. Great mixed route of on and off road with some delightful hills thrown in. Loved the stadium finish with every runner getting a mention. Nice finishers t-shirt............but i do like a medal too!! Will definitely be back for this one next year, thank you Stockport Date of review: December 19, 2014
In short: Crowed In full: It has organisational problems with crowed corridor and toilets. Also it gets cluttered on the track when people are going both ways up the track. Date of review: December 16, 2014
In short: An annual must do event In full: Excellent organisation with some of the best marshalls I have encountered ! All were supportive and cheerful despite the cold and wind. Date of review: December 16, 2014
In short: Cracking race In full: Great to see this event take off after the small field last year. A really lovely course in a beautiful setting, with an interesting mixture of scenery, but what really makes the Muddy Welly is the little touches such as the quality medal with a free iTaB, mulled wine at the finish and the fantastic organisation. Always a pleasure to take part in a My Sporting Times event - along with Purple Patch Running, these are definitely the events to do locally. Date of review: December 15, 2014
In short: Great comeback race following injury! In full: Ran this is 2013 as part of London Marathon training, then made a return for 2014 following injury. A slower-than-hoped time, but my longest run (by some margin) since the London Marathon! Great atmosphere, very encouraging marshals and supporters along the route, braving cold winds and biting rain and remaining cheerful throughout! Special thanks to the third placed runner who cheered me on, despite being on his return leg, about 3 miles ahead of me! Date of review: December 15, 2014
In short: Where do you get changed? In full: Ran this race on the back end of a hard season with a view to running The MK Marathon in May 2015. Got there early and plenty of free parking always welcome. I don't think I've ever entered a race where there was nowhere to get changed. If it was wet I'd have been in trouble, thankfully it was dry but very cold. I was at the start for 10am on the button but the starter kept delaying it to allow people to join from the toilets, the queue looked massive. 4 minutes does not sound a lot but it felt a long time in that cold wind. The course is nice but quite technical with lots of switchbacks, the marshals were great. Not sure about The Marathon now, this race could do better. Date of review: December 15, 2014
In short: Great race all round In full: First race I'v done with your name printed on your race number - nice touch. Excellent medal with free iTab (engraved with your name and time) sent to you later. Mulled wine and mince pies at the finish. Probably not PB potential as largely off-road but not too challenging and very scenic. One of the best races I've done for a long time, great value. Date of review: December 15, 2014
In short: Local and well run In full: As my local half I was always going to run it despite the concerning reviews from last year. I was pleasantly suprised, the organisers took on people's gripes and improved upon them. Was a cold day, obvious in dec, a bit of a concern would be what would happen if it rained, the whole start area and village was on a grass field, this was already very wet and muddy in places, maybe a hard standing area nearby would be better if possible. Course was good, a bit twisty and lumpy in places. As the red ways etc were not closed there were pedestrians about who acted like complete morons at times, it was obvious there was a race on yet they walked in the middle of the path or two abreast and refused to move. On course marshals were good and water/feed stations were good. Gels on a small event were a suprise.
Will be back next year. Date of review: December 15, 2014
In short: Great HQ and organisation In full: The facilities were good, and the refreshments afterwards appreciated. Interesting run along paths with the odd hill and big puddles. Marshalls and organisation were good. Date of review: December 14, 2014