In short: Superb atmosphere and organisation In full: There aren't many races of this length around at this time of year and despite the heat I thoroughly enjoyed this. Extremely well-organised, with everything at Race HQ well-signposted and lots of friendly volunteers to answer any questions. Ample parking too at the actual event rather than half a mile away as seems to be the case with many races. Any course was going to be challenging in today's conditions and while there were no steep ascents it was certainly undulating but with a good variety of terrain. Given the location the course could have been dull but taking it out of the town along local country lanes kept it interesting and more scenic. The water stations were well-placed and well-manned and it was greatly appreciated being given water in bottles with a sport top rather than plastic cups. The sponge station was a nice touch but could have done with being at the midpoint rather than towards the end of the race. All road crossings were extremely well-marshalled. A track finish is always nice and gives the event that little extra. I knew a PB was out of the question in the heat so I was delighted to finish first in my age category and bag a nice trophy as well as my race medal. I was very happy with a bottle of Lucozade Sport and a banana at the end; goody bags are usually rubbish. A 25th anniversary t-shirt would have been a nice touch but not necessary. I would definitely do this race again - it really is a shining example of how good a well-organised race can be. Date of review: July 21, 2014
In short: Excellent inaugural half to accompany the already-established full marathon. In full: A thoroughly enjoyable race - helped enormously by the favourable weather which pulled out many spectators around the course. The route was mostly flat, although there were a few prolonged uphill drags which although not steep, were energy-sapping especially as it was warm. There was a welcome breeze particularly on the long, straight stretches. Excellent organisation - the stadium finish was a definite highlight! - and despite the numbers there was no queue for baggage at either the start or at the finish (and due to traffic queuing into Milton Keynes I wasn't as early as I'd have liked). No toilet queues at all - the beauty of such a sizeable venue. In fact, despite numbers the only time this race felt crowded was at the start, and it would have been helpful to have some pace zones to assist with the lining up. I just tried to get as far forward as I could given the marathon and half-marathon starters were all mixed together. Superb encouragement from both spectators and marshalls and a surprisingly pleasant route made this a top-notch race - that and placing 6th lady and 2nd in age category taking over two minutes off my PB! Date of review: May 6, 2014
In short: Great potential, but room for improvement In full: I arrived about an hour before the start. Race HQ (in the netball hall) was fine - spacious, warm, plenty of baggage storage space - but could have done with more toilets (and it wasn't that busy when I arrived). The start wasn't particularly well-organised: just a free-for-all with no time zones. I ended up too far forward but at least I wasn't held back (in fact I set off too fast for the first few miles). The course was as one would expect from a suburban race route: not particularly inspiring in terms of scenery but not unpleasant either: at least it didn't involve running through any industrial estates. The marshalls did a good job by and large, given there were no road closures in place, but I felt more were needed as at some junctions it wasn't always clear which way to go. The public support along the route was unexpected and most welcome. This was advertised as a flat race and it definitely wasn't. There was a really nasty uphill drag of about a mile around 6 miles (and again in the second lap) and the finish was uphill too. This was tough in a cold and blustery wind. Agree with other comments that finishing through the parking area was not ideal - I am a faster runner so not an issue for me but as I was driving out afterwards there were plenty of runners still coming through which must have been really tough for them, trying to compete with the traffic when exhausted. I managed a PB by nearly two minutes even after taking a tumble at 10.5 miles (luckily I was able to get up and carry on as there seemed to be no-one around to help). Adequate goody bag; technical tee which as usual came only in mens' sizes (when will people realise that lots of women runners are tiny? - I'd like to be able to wear my t-shirt, not camp in it) Overall a reasonable race - the start and finish need to be improved but I would do it again. Date of review: March 24, 2014
In short: Good race despite the unexpected 'water features'!! In full: First time I've done this race which is marketed as one of the tougher races in the south-east half marathon calendar. I understand why the organisers have opted for the marquee-style race headquarters (proximity to the start/finish lines) but on a less pleasant day this would have been absolutely grim. Very muddy in the marquee even before it started to get busy; a positive swamp after the race. Some sort of groundsheet floor covering would have been a good idea. Baggage storage was a bit of a bunfight and it would have been better to stick the number ranges up high rather than having them flat on the tables so that people could join the appropriate baggage queue rather than (like me) being redirected to a different queue three times! The race itself was good - the first couple of miles are a bit dull around residential streets but the scenery picks up once out on the country lanes. The hills - two in particular - were tough but there was a pleasant amount of downhill to compensate. I don't think anyone was expecting the massive flooding just before mile 8 (and immediately before a left turn straight up a long, steep hill) - no choice but to run through and tackle the hill with cold, wet, leaden feet! Just as the memory of that was starting to fade, mile 10 hit us with an even bigger flood, this one over the ankles and freezing cold. Last three miles were very squelchy! The last section back in Cassiobury Park seems eternal - about 500m slightly uphill, before a left turn and 400m down to the finish line (which seemed miles away). Despite the tough course and conditions underfoot I managed my first half PB since 2005 so very happy! Would have been nice to have a banana or something at the finish, and I would also urge race organisers to consider offering technical t-shirts in both men's and women's sizes. The one I got from Fred Hughes 10 a couple of weeks ago was great and fit perfectly; I'm afraid a men's XS is still huge on many women and when you've paid £25 to enter the race ... Overall, though, a good race and the marshalls were fantastic. Would do it again. Date of review: February 3, 2014
In short: Well organised, friendly race and a great way to start the year. In full: My first Fred Hughes 10 but definitely not my last. Very impressed with all aspects of this race - even the weather was kind, but top marks to the St Albans Striders for having a back-up route to avoid the flooded areas so the race could go ahead. An undulating but fairly scenic route and I took over two minutes off my PB, so the potential is definitely there. Unfortunately missed out on the t-shirt - didn't notice them being given out at the finish and once I'd walked back to Race HQ I couldn't be bothered to walk the 500m or so back to the finish to get one. I did pick up one of the free 2013 t-shirts that were being given away in the hall prior to the race though! Good facilities at the start, arrived early so plenty of parking, and the marshalls really were fantastic. Date of review: January 21, 2014
In short: Friendly, well-organised race and enthusiastic marshalls despite the awful weather. In full: Was running rather than racing this as a pre-London long Sunday race, but was so enthused by the support of the marshalls and friendliness of fellow runners that I ended up running it a lot faster than planned. Part of that was also the desire to get out of the driving cold rain which really picked up in the second half.
Good facilities - first race I've ever been to where there was no queue for the ladies' - and the transition from the 10 to 20 mile race was handled well. I thought a two-loop course would be demoralising in the second half but it wasn't a problem at all. The course was nice and flat - a couple of minor inclines - without too many twists and turns so a definite PB course for those racing.
I too would have preferred a medal - the hats were a great idea but did not take account of the smallest amongst us: mine looks like a tea cosy and slips down over my eyes, so sadly I won't be able to wear it out running. Runners treasure their medals, even if they do end up at the back of a drawer, so a longer-lasting memento would have been a bonus.
All in all, an excellent race and I would definitely do it again. Date of review: February 21, 2006
In short: A really dull course but a well-organised and friendly race. In full: The 11am start in 30 degrees of heat didn't help, but there was still a good crowd of runners at the start. Unfortunately the two-loop route is dull, run mostly on roads through the more industrial part of the town, and although flat, there are lots of twists and turns which limit the PB potential.
There is also very little shade on the course, so big thanks to the friendly local who turned his garden hose on the suffering runners! As it was my first 10M race it was a PB, but the heat affected my performance and I know I could do a lot better in less adverse circumstances. Overall, I might do it again as it's near to home and easy to get to. Date of review: November 30, 2005
In short: Great organisation and a potential PB course. In full: The race starts and finishes from Standalone Farm, which made getting out at the end a little difficult. The course isn't traffic-free, which meant some single-file running in places, but it was well-marshalled with drivers mostly quite patient.
The race is mostly on country roads and apart from an uphill start and some undulations between 7K and 9K, was relatively flat. Overall runners were friendly and the farm has lots of 'petting' animals for children so it's good if you're accompanied by family. Date of review: November 30, 2005