In short: Well organised but the hills just keep coming! In full: I was told there were 2/3 main hills but it seemed to me that there were a few little ones in between as well! It was hard to PB due to the long AND hard slog (ouch hamstrings) but you can catch up on the downhills IF you can handle the pain the following day - ouch quads. Well organised: good loos, marshalls who really made a difference with their supportive comments and baggage drop military style! But I won't do this race again, too painful and combining runners and traffic is an accident waiting to happen. Date of review: March 3, 2013
In short: Beautiful - but only skin deep In full: This race takes you on an epic route, sights of London and the parks in all their autumn glory (especially in the stunning sunshine we had), it truly is beautiful to look at. However this race's beauty is only skin deep. For me the atmosphere was just not there. Just not friendly enough. Was it all them Londoners thinking they were still on the tube? I am from the Styx but I do like my races with a bit of joy in them. Plus SO many peeps running with headphones. So many times I just wanted to chat or smile or have a little moan to someone but it seemed like almost everyone was shut off in their own world. :-( Practically speaking headphone make it hard to overtake people and say Excuse me, as they can't hear you. This was an issue as the race was busy and crowded with a couple of bottle-necks. Plus some marshals were not so good at keeping things safe - several spectators ran across my path, trying to dodge the runners. Loo queue terrible, baggage drop, didn't even bother. Organisation nuffink special. Missed my goody bag, t-shirt terrible. I-phone app good for timings, but not working on the day for my supporters to track me. How to improve? 1. Ban headphones 2. Sort out nutter spectators, 3. More toilets (OF COURSE) 4. Later races start for people coming from outside London. 5. Make app work during race 6. Help people feel the JOY!
In short: Enough with the hills! In full: The Good: Fantastic organisation, lively atmosphere, road closures, lots of water stations and loo stations along the route (yey for someone who over-hydrated slightly!), great marshalling, good support, big runners village area, great for warm-up and warm-down, central to town, plenty parking and Starbucks nearby. Great park nearby for supporters and families. Corralling worked nicely, very clear. Lucozade after. T-shirt good. Finish times sent by text within minutes! V impressed.
The Bad: Humongous queue for loos before race (why can no one ever get this right?) A dozen or so loos for 3000-odd runners? Hmmm. Good job they had lots of loos on the course (tho if I'd been chasing a PB I'd have been scuppered). Queuing meant I didn't get chance to look round the runners village - there were sponsors stalls and trainer shops. Didn't get a banana. :-( Needed a banana. Don't be giving me your ice lolly (grump).
The Ugly: The hills and my poor knees. This was my first HM (2h22m). None of the hills was that steep but some were loooooong and they just kept coming for 13 miles. You're always either going up or you're going down. Both hurty hurty.
In short: PB highly unlikely - and all for the wrong reasons! In full: Unless you start out at the front of this course, you'll be caught in at least 3 bottlenecks - one before a kissing gate and two before some (steep) downward steps. I had about 20 folks queuing in front of me 3 times, we were all standing still for 15-20 seconds each time. Bye bye PB and hello cramp. Also the track is narrow in many places so you can't overtake when you need to. Nearly came cropper.
Terrain is rough underfoot so watch your ankles. In fact you spend so much time looking down the scenery is neither here nor there. I know the organisers rave about the beauty of the countryside on the route but IMHO it's nothing special... Green and rural yes but overall this run feels cramped and claustrophobic.
Water station at 5k? Might as well not have bothered - please use bottles instead, plastic cups are impossible to drink from on the move! Or provide a space to stop/slow down by the water tables, it was too narrow. Or put the water stations near the 3 bottlenecks so at least we can rehydrate while we're standing still.
No baggage deposit - a definite negative - lots of freezing cold runners as we had to leave jackets etc in the car. With the 20 minute walk to the start line there were lots of chattering jaws and cold muscles. Car parking was already full when we got there so we squeezed in on the side of the road - a 10 minute walk away. There was a long and cold queue for the Portaloos even though there were about 10 of them. More for next year perhaps?
A fair few inclines on the route - in fact it seemed like one long climb with 2/3 sharp descents/steps. Seemed to be a good event for families, 2k, lots of kids around, bouncy castle, burgers etc.
Medal, water and bananas on finishing. Nice touch having prizes for 200th and 400th position but goodies for all would be better.
I might consider this one again but it's not a race I enjoyed much. As you can tell.
Positives: timing chips worked well and the signs at the start allowing you to get into position according to your estimated finish time. Date of review: May 21, 2012
In short: Killer hill to the finish line can kill your PB! In full: Nice country route, lovely friendly marshals, nice bananas and running bottles in goody bag. Well organised from school lots of warm up opportunities, good bag drop. Thanks to all the rotary helpers - much appreciated smiles.
MINOR gripe 1 - Big bottleneck at start through small gate - bye bye PB - unless you're at the front. This was silly and annoying. You start running then you have to stop. Why not do a lap of the football pitch to thin the crowd out a bit first?
MINOR gripe 2 - The route should come with a health warning! It's very gently undulating for 6.1 nice country miles then there's a really steep 200m hill up to the finish line! It's an absolute killer because if you're anywhere near your PB you're going to try and hammer it up the hill so you don't lose your time. Plus if you've not left much in the tank you're gonna really feel the hill. I do think they should give people a little reminder at some point, Tired + Unexpected Hill = Injury Potential.
MAJOR gripe now - Why oh why did you make us stop running so abruptly at the end? There was the finish line, yey, then a single file funnel for stopwatch recording. It meant we all had to stop sprinting over the finish to a dead stop. NOT good for us, not good for muscles, had huge muscle recovery issues because of the abrupt stop. Especially after that hill. Let us jog down for a minute at least - there was space back there. I know you don't have timing chips, but no matter - most folks know their time anyway, there's no rush to clock it down on paper, I'd rather slow down properly please. Timing chips would resolve this issue, I'd pay an extra couple of quid.
Overall I would do it again but it is my local. Date of review: May 10, 2012