In short: Underground, overground, wombling free... In full: Wasn't overly looking forward to this race as I sheltered in my car from the pouring rain before the start of the race but turned out to be a pleasant experience!
There is free parking at the venue, & when I got there about an hour before the start there was plenty of places but it's not a massive car park & was quite full when I went back to my car at the end. The venue was a sports ground but there wasn't much to do for supporters while we were out running. Not many toilets but there weren't long queues as there wasn't a massive field of runners.
For someone who doesn't overly enjoy lapped routes, I found this route nice enough to enjoy on the second lap too. The recent rain had made the route extremely muddy in places which did slow you down a bit, especially at the start of each lap with a little climb.
There were a few supporters & marshals along the way but the rest of the time you get to enjoy the peacefulness of the route. People cheering you on at the end though & best of all was the Womble medal! A brilliant choice by the organiser. You even got a t-shirt too which was good considering it was a low priced HM. Date of review: May 12, 2014
In full: The stadium was a great venue, although the roads leading up to the parking were slow. I almost booked the VIP parking but glad I didn't after hearing on here about it being over-booked.
Quickly used the toilets (no queue for a change!) & then lined up waiting for the race to start. As most other people have mentioned on here, some sort of timing pens would have been helpful.
For me personally, where this race let itself down was the route. I understand that for the full marathon the route got a little bit more interesting in the second half but for most of the half it was mainly a case of run up one side of a road then cross over & run down the other side. I understand the grid system of MK but having done a two other HMs in MK, this route was the dullest out of the three.
Heading into the stadium for the finish was cool & the goody bag had some post race snacks to enjoy but a t-shirt would have good too. The medal was brilliant, one of best I've got.
I hope the organisers can iron out the few problems with the parking & the pens as this seems that it will continue to grow in popularity. I would consider doing again but would check if the route has been changed before entering. Date of review: May 12, 2014
In full: Was worried about having to park far away from the race but the car park suggested (CV37 7LT) seem to have room for plenty of cars. Tip - go all the way to the end & you'll end up right by the finishing line, toilets & changing rooms. Downside of the car park was cost, about a £1 an hour so make sure you bring plenty of change.
The start was about a 5-10 min walk from the car park (took so long because of the sheer volume of people) in the town centre. I do agree that the start could have done with estimated finishing time pens as it was hard to know where to place yourself with some many runners.
You start of by doing a lap of the town centre, it was pretty cool being able to run past Shakespeare's house! Then you work your way out onto quite roads for several rooms with lovely scenery. I agree the last few miles on the greenway was a bit tedious but being homing in on the finish made it bearable. Lots of people cheering on at the finish was great!
There was a good amount of water stops & even the odd toilet along the route. Thankfully I didn't have to make a pit stop but always good to have just in case.
Unfortunately the weather wasn't fantastic but all in all it was an enjoyable race. The medal was great, very unique. The organisers go to the trouble of coming up with a different design each year so will definitely be checking it out each year.
In short: Pleasant 5k In full: I hope over the next few years that this event grows in popularity as it's for a good cause & was had a nice feel to it.
The race was based at a visitors centre in a woodland area which was good as there was a good cafe inside for pre/post drinks & snacks. Also shelter from the stong winds!
The parking was free & for the time being there was enough spaces, but if the race grows bigger then parking may become limited.
The route had to be changed last minute & the organisers were quite apologetic but they didn't need to be as I wouldn't have known any difference! It did, however, mean a 5 min walk from HQ to the start. Just made it in time for the start of the race.
The route was fine, a out & back due to the route change but was pretty flat so it was easy going. The route was exclusively for the runners but dog walkers moved out of your way.
At the end you got a cool medal & goody bag (you were given a free t-shirt before the race) so not a bad amount of swag to take home!
This race really is beginner friendly so would hoping more take part in the next few years.
In short: Ok race but definitely not good value for money In full: It took me a while to decide to enter this race because of the price. It's more than I would normally pay for a half, but after getting a discount code via RealBuzz I decided to give it a go.
The route itself was quite pleasant although a bit narrow in places made it hard to overtake at times. Also as it had recently rained some parts were quite muddy (adds to the fun).
The issue I have with the race is the price & what you get for your money. When organisers are charging £30+ for a half then they need to deliver something special. I know the focus of the festival was at the finish but something at the start would have been nice too! Nothing, not even music playing over a PA.
Even the mile markers were a let down! Some of them seemed to be missing, most of the ones that were there were totally in the wrong place & didn't stand out at all (normally they are printed on a fluorescent yellow card, these were more home-made). Am I being too fussy? Maybe, but then the race cost more than the average half marathon so you would expect things to be better.
The finish area was a bit more lively, although still not an overly 'festival' feel to it. There were no bands playing but not sure on the timetable. A couple of stands but nothing that took my fancy. The medal was good & you get a Nike technical t-shirt. I got a small white t-shirt (they had run out of the small black ones). Still a tent on me as they're all men's sizes! Could they not do one colour but men & womens instead? You're given a goody bag but it just contains leaflets. Drinks are handed out; Lucozade & a protein recovery drink. I prefer water & managed to find an almost 'bootleg' operation going on at the side of the park filling up cups.
I know it seems like I've been quite harsh on the race but it comes back to the price. It was £10 cheaper then I would be saying yes it was a good race for the money but I don't think we got value for money. Putting it into perspective, it was more expensive to enter than the London marathon! I know VLM gets a lot of money from their sponsors but I get good value for money from it. I had done two halves the previous two weekends to this. They were both under £20 & very good. My point is, you don't need to charge a lot to give runners a good experience.
On the parking front, the organisers recommend a NCP by the station. I tried that first & not only was it quite a tight car park but also expensive. It would have cost £6-7 to park for a few hours. In the end I parked in a car park across the road from the finish at Old Deer Park. Plenty of spaces when I got there & £2 more than covered my time there. Plus my car was a stones throw from the finishing line!
It's not a bad race, it's just not value for money.
In short: Lovely scenic area but couple of areas need improving In full: Running round Blenheim Palace was always going to give a lovely background & I loved the novelty of 7k rather than the usual 5k or 10k. Plenty of free parking at race HQ.
When I arrived the warm up was well under way & the whole HQ area had a friendly atmosphere to it. One of my gribes was though that there was oly 3 portaloos! No way enough to serve the mass of people. I believe that there might have been some more toilets in a building nearby but I heard that the queues were just as bad.
The race is chip timed but there was no mat at the start line. I'm guessing everyone's chip starts at th same time & then the finishing time is recorded? If that is the case then the chips are pointless & the money should be saved or used elsewhere.
Once we got going the route was very nice. Some inclines but nothing that was a killer. There were a lot of kids running so it seemed a good family event.
My biggest issue was with the finish. About a metre over the finish line there was a wall of runners & while I was there it got worse. I wouldn't be surprised if people weren't able to cross the finish line! The finishing funnel was just too narrow & there were two ladies noting down everyone's race number, regardless of what order people crossed the line! That was one hold up & then the chip removal also seemed to add to the backlog.
Overall though I think this would make a great event for the family & the grounds were truly lovely. Very friendly atmosphere all round.
In short: Not a bad race but 'Festiival' maybe an overstatement In full: Starts in a good location with lots of parking nearby. The thing is they didn't make the most of the starting location considering its titled as a festival. They could have had a DJ, warm up, stalls etc but there was nothing. If there hadn't been so many runners around, you might not have known that there was a running event going on.
Started out in the centre of MK then moved away from the roads, the route was pleasant but for the amount of runners there wasn't always enough room to run. Later in the race that wasn't so much of a problem but at the start we were bunched to close at times. Also lots of bollards to dodge thoughout the course!
There was a good mix of albilites so this would be a good race for a first time half marathoner, the course did lack supporters for most of the course though. Doesn't bother me but some people like being cheered on.
There were markers at every mile but as some of the course was repeated, you saw the 10 mile marker when you had only completed about 3 miles! Seeing the 10 mile marker the second time round was a much better feeling.
Water stops were every few miles & it was bottled water with sports caps, always a bonus over paper cups in a race.
Close to the finish line there was a short up hill stretch, it is only short but on tired legs it felt a bit cruel!
Coming into the finish there was plenty of support, my major gripe is though that you have to take your own timing chip off. In all of the races I've done, this is NOT common practice! After running 13 miles it would be nice if they could spare some marshals to help us out. I just about got my leg up high enough to take it off, it seemed the better option then bending down (& maybe not getting back up!) to retrieve it. Medal given to you in the bag as well?
Overall, I would probably take part again but would want to try the 10k this time. I would love it if the organisers read these comments & took them on board as if they did it could be a brilliant race. Date of review: March 10, 2013
In short: The last 3k will get you! In full: Really pleasant scenery made even better with the first couple of km downhill. But you know what goes down must go up & that was the last few km of the race. Nothing steep, you could certainly still run up it but it did eat away at your time. It made seeing the finishing line even sweeter though.
Free parking was laid on at the village hall & local school, & the start line was in between the two so you didn't need to walk far.
This wasn't a 'all the frills' kind of race but I think that was nice & gave it it's charm. The route was a perfect setting for a crisp winter's day & we only came across a few cars.
Great race to start the year. Date of review: January 14, 2013
In short: Great little local race In full: Charming local race with a good set up. The only downside with the organisation was the 25 min delay at the start. We were told it was only going to be 10 mins about 20 mins before we lined up & we were left waiting longer & longer at the start line & we all got a bit cold. I understand something might have happened to a runner from an earlier race so if that was the case then I'm glad the organisers were taking the appropriate action.
The course was a bit narrow at times so made overtaking a bit hard. We also had to run on the road for parts but the organisers had put plenty of signs up to warn drivers so personally I felt quite save.
The hill at the end wasn't too bad, it lasted about 1k but wasn't too steep. Just at a cruel part in the race so save some energy for that!
Was able to get parked ok & there were plenty of marshals around to help direct you to parking.
There was a really friendly atmosphere with this race & had a 'local race' charm to it. Date of review: October 7, 2012