In short: Well organised debut In full: I'll give this race my usual review.
This race was rearranged, I only entered after the rearrangement though so I have no comments to make on that.
I live local so turned up 30 minutes before the start, my race pack had turned up a week before with a map of the route and where to park. I was quickly directed to a nearby field about two minutes walk to the start.
The race HQ was a village hall that had the usual running stuff for sale, hot drinks and snacks were reasonably priced and there were plenty of chairs in the warmth. My wife was waiting so appreciated this. Chip timings were in use (although not advertised) and probably matter to some, I'm all in favour of keeping down costs and in such a small field didn't seem necessary.
The start was a little away from the HQ, a good five minute walk and there was a PA keeping us informed at the start.
The route went around minor roads, although not closed to traffic there was very little on the route and no major issues with crossing roads. Although the route was written as flat I think it is fair to say it wasn't that flat and undulating would be a fairer assessment. There was plenty of ups and downs, a few motorway bridges, etc. I don't much care either way on the hilyness of a course but I do think the organisers should tell the truth, it was not flat, Blackpool and Fleetwood were flat.
There were two water stations on the course at about 5 and 10 miles, the first gave a 500ml bottle and the second a small cup. It was adequate based on the outside temperature. The course was marshalled well, thought the last part towards the canal bridge could have been better marked than a marshall at the last motorway bridge shouting some instructions.
Thr finish was at the village hall and finishers were presented with a decent medal personalised for the event, a bottle of water, a mars bar and a pair of socks. Makes a nice change to get some things you actually want after a race (a nice Mars bar) instead of the usual free sample horrid granola bar!
The race was fairly inexpensive and was well organised, great value for what it was and will hopefully be on the calendar next year Date of review: February 10, 2010
In short: Excellent value for a well organised event. In full: The race starts in Carlisle Castle and there was plenty of paid parking nearby, there were some toilets, chip collection and a lucozade stand at the start. The race started on time, and made its way through the city centre and out around local villages before returning past the football stadium and into a large park with sheep in it before ending at the running track. Haven't been to Carlisle since I left Cumbria when I was seven and it was nice to be back, I'm pretty sure we ran past the vast majority of sites that Carlisle had to offer.
Water stations were ample at 3, 6, 8.5 and 11 miles, I didn't see any mention of where they would be at the start or in the pack but I'd be lying if I said I looked closely. At each station there was a 500ml bottle of water and some stations had lucozade (i hate the stuff so can only verify the first and last stations but wasn't looking). Each station was manned by cheerful army cadets and were well staffed.
The medal was personalised for the race and of high quality and the goody bag contained a bottle of water, a NB technical shirt, some bourbon biscuits and some leaflets - for the £17 race fee it proved decent value and the goody bag itself was a nice drawstring NB plastic bag, really handy for laundry! They were also handing out bananas!
There was plenty to do at the end, the local radio were reporting live and there was a NB shop - personally I'd have liked to see a bit more at the start to have done but it was nice to start at the castle. Date of review: October 25, 2009
In short: Excellent organisation and a great event all round In full: Before I start I'll say I ran a 2h12m run here, I mention it as I know people who run different speeds have different experiences in races.
The race HQ was excellent, large changing tents for men and women, some shelters, a NB shop and various food stands. Spectators were well served with a covered grand stand and the NB team were handing out free flags and noisemakers to children. Plenty of toilets and not too bad queues.
The start was slightly delayed as there was an issue clearing the route of cars but we were kept informed throughout and it didn't seem too bad. Running pens were provided as were NB pacers.
The route was lovely, as a resident of Warrington I wasn't sure of the route (living the other end of the town). The route quickly left the town and we ran through a series of nice villages, many local residents turned out to spectate and provided great support. All roads were closed for the event. The route seemed to rise steadily for the first six miles, no major hills but it was a steady climb, I found this section hard and was pleased that the second half went steadily downwards. The route ended with a lap of the track to the finish line.
Water stations were provided at 3,6 and 10 miles and provided a 330ml bottle of water at each handed out by enthusiastic volunteers. In addition there was a lucozade station at 8 and 11.5 miles and free lucozade from a stand before the start.
The finishing medal was excellent, specially designed and high quality. The goody bag contained a bottle of water and lucozade, a cereal bar and a banana. It also included your NB t-shirt, which was red and had First English HM on the back, very nice.
Although there has been some criticism of the price of the event it was worth every penny. No expense was spared at any point, whether it was water stations or the banners at the starting line. Yes maybe you could run the Skinflint Half Marathon for half the price, but at such events you get a small amount of water in a plastic cup and your finishing momento is probably a punch in the crotch.
From the very first English Half Marathon it shows that the organiser wants this to be a big event, rather than just say so it has been set up as a big event with all the facilities you would expect.
I'll be booking early for next years event as this was the best organised event I have done, I recommend others do as well as it won't be long before the maximum entry of 5000 will be sold out! Date of review: October 4, 2009
In short: A half marathon around Fleetwood, flat course In full: I'm not sure what people mean by water shortages, I was one of the slower people in the half (2:19 finish) and got water at 3/7/10, there was no missing station and I must have been near the back.
My major gripe could be said about many races but really gets me up about the water. Firstly the stations were not at 3/7/10, they were a good third of a mile beyond the markers - I wouldn't complain if they were 50yds but when you get to 10 miles and there is no sign of a water station you begin to worry. I'm happy to have water at 3.4 miles, etc. so why not say that before the race?
The water was in cups (which I don't care for but not really an issue) and they were stingy with it. When you can see they have a dustbin full of water it wouldn't kill them to fill the cups to the brim would it?
I guess there was good PB potential but I found it rather tedious in such a small field (often running alone) but nice views along the sea front. There was one small hill at the beginning but nothing major and pancake flat for the remainder. I do find the concrete along sea fronts a little hard going though.
The goody bag contained a deoderant sample, an ASDA brand mini Mars bar and a pair of white socks. Not quite sure what the socks were for, I guess to change into. They looked like cheap white socks and not running ones so I hope they didn't pay anything for them.
The medal (as usual with the race organisers) was nice and custom made but only advertised the "Wyre Running Weekend" so you would have got the same thing whether you did the 10, Half or Full. There was also a bottle of water. The t-shirt was pretty good with no advertisements but again everyone got the same.
It was a small field so the race HQ was excellent, many tables and chairs to sit at, a cafe open and ample toilets. If more people had turned up the toilets would not have been enough (I assume the organisers would have arranged extra).
A good first attempt at a race, a decent course for the half with minimal repetition. Date of review: September 14, 2009
In short: Great Support on this tough course In full: This race seems to be nothing but hills, although some people point out two in particular the whole course seems to be littered with them.
Organisation was good with plenty of water on the course in bottles, it was hot and plenty of locals had set up their own water stations, jelly babies, hose pipes, etc. Only gripe was at the end it seemed to take an age to get the goody bags with masses of finishers all desperate to get some water crammed in a pen for ten minutes. When I eventually got to the front I couldn't work out why there was any delay. Nice t-shirt and souvenir plate to all finishers and a goody bag with a few freebies from a building society, no food.
It finished right in the centre of town which made for plenty of choice to get some food after the event. Parking was provided free in a nearby multi-storey that had been closed off for the event, nice touch.
Considering the price and what you got and how it seemed that the whole of Stoke came to a standstill with road closures it was a good value event with a decent keepsake.
The support enroute made the event though, it seemed everyone came out their houses to watch the event or provide icepops or water unofficially (and it was needed and appreciated). Pubs on the way provided special openings for customers to watch the event, some laying on music for the runners. Never seen support like it and it puts a lot of bigger events to shame.
I'll be back next year with a bit more hill practise Date of review: June 15, 2009
In short: Not much for your money In full: I know its a charity race but the organisers claim that your race money only paid for the organisation of the event, in that case for my £14 it was very poor value.
A cardboard set of antlers to run in and a goody bag that consisted of leaflets and a pen advertising a machine hire company. I've paid less and got a lot more at every other race I have ever done.
The race itself was fairly flat so there is some PB potential, however the organisation wasn't massively well done at the start. The people near the front had to be told by the people at the back we had started. It was a two lap 10k, in a figure 8 (you passed the start 4 times) and quite nice scenery starting and finishing at the house.
Mince Pie and Hot Chocolate provided at the end.
If the money all went on the event and not to the RNLI it really is hard to see where all the money has gone. Since it was a 10k where a lot of the competitors will only run this race, a medal could have been given out.
In short: Well organised race! In full: Just got back from this race, everything about it was well organised. Parking was well marshalled, somewhere warm to wait for the start, free massages, good start with no bottle necking, spot on KM markers, water halfway (in plastic cups) and at the end.
The goody bag had morphed into a Wesham 10k Bumbag and a £5 sweatshop voucher which if you prefer momentoes to a plastic bag of cereal bars and shampoo samples (which I do) then it was a great race.
It was mostly run on small back roads, although not traffic free the traffic was not a problem. I wouldn't call the route pancake flat there were a few minor inclines but I still think great PB potential due to the wide path (i managed it in a PB of 51m previous PB 57m). I don't think there was any point on the course where I felt the route took even a second off my time.
Bacon and Sausage Barms and Hot Soup and Rolls available at the finish along with the optional use of a full bar. Date of review: November 29, 2008
In short: Hard as Hell but Enjoyable to the last (not one for mud haters) In full: Well it really lived up to its name after a fairly gentle start it quickly got into steep climbs and descents, plenty of mud and bogs.
Free parking was ample but a mile or so walk from the starting line, the start itself could have been better organised with just one mass starting out and quickly led to bottling in the early stages. Not really the runners fault as everyone was just told to head for the start line and slower runners no doubt caught up.
After a long hill climb the race started fairly gently, but quickly had you running up very steep small hills and slippy down them. It was hard to get past people in the many single file sections, many of whom were walking the hills so if you're after a good time then start near the front.
The bogs need a special mention and were shorts high on a 6ft2 person, the best advice I can give is to just dive straight in and start wading. There was no real way of avoiding getting muddy so the sooner you accepted the inevitable the better you were.
One water station giving out a 500ml of water before the half way stage, was probably adequate for the distance. The goody bag was a little disappointing with a large selection of dried fruit, some seed mix, some shower gel, a cereal bar and a tea sample. Also another bottle of water and a For Goodness shake, the souvenir t-shirt was a proper PUMA running top, although only a small logo indicated the race and looks like one good wash would rub it off. A more permanent momento such as a medal would be appreciated.
Lack of mile markers was a bit of a let down, I know they say its because mile markers are for road running softies (or words to that effect) which addmitedly sounds better than they couldn't be bothered measuring the course.
Hard to judge beginner potential, its a tough race but runner were finishing well into the three hours and there was no sense of being rushed.
In short: Excellent value for a well organised challenge event. In full: The LDWA events generally offer excellent value and this was no exception. For change from a tenner you got checkpoints with cakes and drinks and a hot meal at the end! There's no prizes as such except for a certificate and is equally geared to the runner or the walker (I walked) so don't worry if you're a slow runner, you won't get timed out!
The scenery was lovely with instructions for the route provided so you'll need some basic navigation skills and preferable a map and compass (there's no marshalls pointing you the way except at the checkpoints every five miles).
As someone who is never going to come close to winning any race these LDWA events are ideal as plodders like me are not subsidising winners cash prizes so costs are low.
The food was either a pie or a hot pot (not a choice, I just don't remember which it was) with peas and red cabbage and a pudding of pie or rice pudding.
As for a PB potential I don't really see how this would work unless you did the race each year, and the course is far from flat and takes in some hills. More of a nice day out than a race, and excellent value for it! Date of review: October 25, 2008