In short: 10k Excellence from Balfron In full: My 4th year at this event and Balfron Schools show yet again why people come back year after year - superb organisation, good value entry fee, friendly welcome, chip timing, challenging course, quality medal, Tunnochs caramel wafer in the goody bag ;))equals lots of very happy runners!!
Another great run at Balfron. Date of review: April 22, 2012
In short: Fabulous trail race, terrain not to be under-estimated!!! In full: This was a very scenic race in a lovely, breath-takingly beautiful part of the Lake District. The terrain was tough and not to be under-estimated, some parts worse than others, very rooty and rocky in places and reminiscent to me of parts of the West Highland Way, for people who know that route. I dithered for weeks before hand over should I use trail shoes or road shoes, in the end the weather was dry enough for road shoes, and i just about got away with it over the rough ground and boggy areas - but was glad of the extra support over the road sections (some fairly long uphill stretches of road near the start). In wet weather I would definitely wear trail shoes for this race.
I carried with me a 500ml water bottle, a 250ml bottle of coke, and a number of gels and nuun tablets. The heat was unbearable at times, totally unrelenting sun, finished frazzled to a crisp with sunburn in new places ;). The marshalls refilled my water bottle at 2nd, 3rd and 4th checkpoints, and I finished with almost a full bottle left, so for me personally, the water was sufficient......but I do think it would have been a good idea to have an extra water stop between 2nd and 3rd, as this felt like a hell of a long way in the heat, maybe take a few tubs of water out on a quad bike? I appreciate the area is quite inaccessible in places.
If I have any criticism I think it is only in the way the organisers website is presented - they are trying to make the races accessible to all, which is great - but I think in doing so they need to be a bit clearer over just how hard some of this terrain is. I agree with others that the cut-offs were very tight...I have done a couple of really quite tough ultra races with cut-offs (Highland Fling, Jurrasic Coast Challenge), but have never felt this kind of pressure to reach checkpoints before.....maybe that was the heat playing a part!!! I think the website needs to be a bit clearer over just what is involved. There was a 'challenge' option starting 2hrs earlier, maybe as a slow plodding type of runner I should have started in that group.....But, in the last 8 miles I over-took quite a few in the 'Challenge' who had started 2hrs before me, who would not have finished in time. I was there for the end of the race, and heard the organisers say there were 70 people still out on the course, with the sweeper runner also still out. So, thats my only gripe - and its a small one - But, TELL US HOW HARD IT IS....we dont mind ;)) we are runners, if we want to do a tough event we will :)) Oh and a cup of water at the end would have been good too, for the folks who had ran out.
Spectator-wise - my support said it was one of the best events they have been to, in terms of plenty of really good quality fresh food on offer, and a really lovely atmosphere with people sitting out on the grass waiting for runners to come in. Also plenty to do in the immediate area during the day whilst the family etc are waiting for you to finish running. I loved sitting (collapsing) in my supports deck chair watching the last runners coming in, while I ate a much longed for ice lolly, then we had the singer entertaing us at the end with 'Country Road', near brought a tear to my eye ;)- just a brilliant end to the day.
Overall, loved it, stunning place, fantastic run, friendly race.....be prepared for the terrain :))))) Date of review: July 4, 2011
In short: Another Brilliant 10k from Balfron Schools In full: My second year here and I will keep on coming back. Nice scenic out and back course with some 'great' hills on the return. A warm welcome from the local school and flawless organisation as always. Good quality medal with the date embossed on it (better than when its printed on the ribbon I think).
No fuss, you turn up, you are welcomed, you collect number, you run....Simples! Date of review: April 26, 2010
In short: Jurassic 2010 - Hard as Nails. In full: Do this if you fancy yourself as a Royal Marine ;)).
Mud, mud and more deep thick clayey mud. Its not just the dinosaurs that got stuck in the mud!!! Huge cliff top ascents and the drops down shear flights of giant steps aint for the fainthearted. Glorious scenery, Day 3 is by far the best and the toughest of the three. Add some last minute sea fog, navigating an inland detour not being able to see hand in front of face, hurling tired legs over waist high sea-groynes, and a final drag through knee deep water on a flooded path and you will get an idea of what this challenge entails.
I travelled down from Scotland for this event and I was not disappointed - a fabulous weekend with lovely friendly people, and a true test of your determination to finish. Date of review: April 1, 2010
In short: Nice scenic and well organised race. Great quality medal! In full: Great coastal scenery and a relatively flat route with one or two minor undulations. Very hot this year and the forecast rain never appeared which made it good for the spectators but heavy going for some of us slower runners towards the back! Quite a few water stations near the end only had lucozade sport on offer, when it would have been better to have more water avaliable, but that might be cos Lucozade were sponsoring this year, and its only a minor niggle, I could have carried my own!
The medal was a nice 'heavy' quality with a good design which I liked, as it had the town clock and a picture of the Waverley paddlesteamer on it (a regular visitor to Helensburghs shores) so it was really nice to have a medal which actually represents something from the place you are running in. Mars bar, water and lucozade products at the end were more than adequate, who needs a skanky goody bag full of leaflets and crap you never use anyway? (Race for Life leftovers given out 3 years in a row aka the Great Scottish Run anyone? Nah, didnt think so).
This is a very good example of a small local race doing it better than the 'Big Boys', and part of the reason I will keep supporting small events. Good work Helensburgh!!! Date of review: August 9, 2009
In short: Top Marks for Balfron Village In full: Excellent organisation and a friendly welcome makes this a great event, with a good strong community involvement. Add to that a nice medal engraved with the event date, and a decent t-shirt and for £14 entry you've got yourself a good morning out.
Nice scenic hilly course, on a mostly single-track road, closed to traffic. Bit of a killer up hill for the last 1.5miles, after an already 'undulating' course. Plenty of water available and enthusiastic marshalling / support throughout.
Highly recommended race in a nice part of the country. Well Done Balfron schools! Date of review: April 26, 2009
In short: Glorious Mountain Scenery and Fantastic Weather In full: A friendly and well organised marathon set amongst stunning mountain scenery, with a route that is mostly flat, apart from a slight gradual hill in and out of Corpach, and a long downhill past Banavie that played havoc on sore legs and blistered feet on the way back(as a previous post has mentioned, the footpath here is quite uneven and potholed so you need to keep your wits about you when tired).
Sporadic but loud and enthusiastic support along the road from both tourists and locals. Drinks stations also sporadic and not quite where notes said they would be, and some energy drink / water stations had been amalgamated which caught me out slightly, so next year would make sure carried own drink, particularly sparse in mid-section of route, but lots of water at end.
Police presence and marshalling at busy junctions but very low key over rest of route, leading to some 'interesting' manoeuvres from holiday caravans / campervans / motor cyclists! Very busy with traffic in some places and then really quiet in others, so a good chance to take in the mountain and loch side scenery and fantastic views of Ben Nevis on the return section.
Another very hot year and no shade on the route probably added to the blistered feet, and route turned into strong wind for last 1.5m which made for tough going, but gave me a marathon pb by 6min, so definite potential on this course if it was a tad cooler, and overall a successful weekend, well organsised, with plenty of free tea / coffee and sandwiches at the end. Date of review: April 20, 2009
In short: Lovely route, but even more windy this year than last. In full: This is a great scenic race, with a very good course, the only drawback to a pb was the wind along the Ochills, which this year was even stronger than I remember it from 2007. Oh well, it is Scotland in March I suppose, it should be expected!
Great atmosphere as always amongst the runners and very good local support this year along the route, lots of people out cheering, and excellent traffic marshalling from the local police at some major road junctions.
My only (minor) winge is that this year it seemed very disorganised at the end. Last year the WRVS did a fantastic job, this year a couple of very young kids had been left alone to give out the medals and goody bags, nobody seemed to know where to go to collect t-shirts etc and there was no bottled water at the end (or in the goody bag)(only a table with cups way down the other end of the car park which a lot of people missed). The kids did their best but when faced with loads of runners finishing and nobody bringing them a restock of goody bags the poor kids were like rabbits in headlights. I thought there should have been some adults directing this part of things.
Also I think it was a mistake to not put an opening and closing time for registration on the website, and then decide to do an on the day entry at the last minute. I got there for 8.45 and registered immediately, it was dead, by 9.30-45 it was total chaos with late arrivals. Not very good for a race starting at 10am!
Overall though still a great race, and hopefully next year it will return to its normal venue where things will be a little less chaotic. Hopefully also the organisers will not fall into the trap of thinking bigger is better and stick to more manageable entry numbers, I think this year they were over-whelmed by the shear number of people entering on the day. Date of review: March 23, 2009
In short: Tough hilly course through some scenic countryside In full: I would highly recommend this race if you want a challenging hilly course, with as many steep down hills as ups (oh and there were a few 'flat' bits too!). A good scenic run in the countryside, mostly on single track roads with very little traffic, but with some sections on busier roads where you had to run single file on a narrow footpath. Excellent control of the traffic however, by the local police and marshalls.
Overall very well organised and lots of marshalls en route, very cheery and lots of encouragement, so a big thanks to them and all at Lasswade AC for putting on a great friendly event. Oh and a special thanks to the Caretaker at Ferguson FC for ensuring a good stock of loo roll in the ladies loos!! Date of review: March 2, 2009
In short: Muddy Multi-terrain race. Good fun in the mud! In full: A good multi-terrain out and back along a muddy and loose stony covered dis-used railway line. The first 1km or so downhill is on a road, turn off onto the MUD...out and back on the old railtrack through Flanders Moss (the clue is in the name..its gonna be wet!!), then back out onto the road for an uphill finish at the rear of Buchlyvie school. Thank goodness this year they had decided to ditch the run around the waterlogged footie pitch to the finish!!
Hard going on the legs after a few miles of rocky mud and would strongly recommend trail shoes for this one. As other people have said before me, this is definitely not a 'road' race. But I would recommend this race for some good muddy fun, just make sure you come prepared with change of clothes / shoes etc.
Oh and the fruit scones in the village hall were excellent!! Nice t-shirt with runners names on it, and a decent goody bag with all you need, bag of crisps, mars bar, piece of fruit, bottle of water. Well Done Buchlyvie! Date of review: January 25, 2009