In short: Great First Ultra... In full: I decided to tackle this event as my first Ultra after reading the reviews on here- would definitely echo all of the comments which recommend this as a good one to start with. I did find it a lot harder than I'd thought it would be(9 miles more than a marathon is suprisingly difficult)- but I think this might reflect my own preparation. I'd only done 2 road marathons (Chester and Manchester) before this and so found the off road element of this more tiring on the legs. I have done a couple of trail half marathons, but in retropect it might have been a good idea to do a full trail marathon. Having said that, this was more fields, roads and bridlepaths than proper off-road stuff (you'd be fine in 'normal' trainers). It was definitely 'undulating' and this also took its toll on the legs in the later stages (i now know why all of the advice you read about ultras is to walk up the big hills!)It was absolutely boiling hot as well, which contributed to a slower time than I'd initially planned on.
The organisation was absolutely superb. There were 5 checkpoints en route- well stocked with delicious fruitcake, GU gels, jelly babies, water, elecrolytes and (at CP3) sausages, pork pies and pasties. I carried food supplies in my bag- but didn't use any of them- there was plenty to take from the CPs- you do need to carry a water bottle or bladder pack with you though as you aren't allowed to take the bottles from the CPs- you need to fill up your own bottle/pack. I had a 2 lite camelback which i was so glad of- it was so hot that I drank LOADS! Navigation- i was lucky as i was in a group with someone who was very good at navigating. I don't think it was especially difficult, but basic map skills would be useful to avoid doing any unnecessary miles. Goodies on offer were a nice tech tee (although a generic 'go beyond ultra' one- would have been nice to have a specific event commemorative one) and a chunky medal. All in all, thoroughly recommend it, was tough but enjoyable- there was a nice atmosphere all the way around from the other participants. Date of review: June 2, 2014
In short: Calves on fire... In full: I ran the 13 mile version so can't comment on the full 26 distance. the first 5 miles were uphill...in fact up a lot of very very steep hills...for me this meant a lot of walking with a bit of running on the less severe sections (and there were a lot of people doing this!). if you want to run it all then get serious hill training/ turn yourself into a mountain goat...however, the views at the top were well worth it and the second half was (after a very steep downhill section) fairly flat...and very pleasant to look at. the course was marked out so no mapreading skills required- although we did nearly miss a couple of the flags. as long as you keep your eyes open you will be fine. marshals on the route were lovely, very encouraging and friendly. I'm quite new to running in general and trail running- the field seemed quite serious, with a lot of speedies (especially in the 26 distance- the winner was VERY quick), but it didn't feel elitey at all so I wouldn't worry if you are a beginner looking to tackle something like this without having to worry about navigating. they did insist on carrying emergency kit- waterproofs, small first aid kit, hat and gloves etc...but this would fit into a small pack and you would be grateful for the kit if the weather was bad at the top! There was one food/drink stop at roughly half way and WOW, what a food station... it was more a complete buffet- malt loaf, flapjack, biscuits, jaffa cakes, jelly babies, flat coke, orange squash, water... at the end there was also a delicious Hog roast included in the price. Goody bag included a nice tech tee, a good medal, some chia snacks (a gel thing and flapjack) and some nikwax waterproofer. only slight improvement could have been a bag drop at race HQ...was a 10min walk/hobble back to the carpark and would have been nice to stick around and watch some of the 26 leaders come in but needed to get a coat on... all in all, a great day out, highly recommended Date of review: May 25, 2014
In short: Hilly... But highly recommended In full: Yes it is hilly. Yes Trooper Lane is revolting... Who knew they even made hills that steep- even walking hurt- but the views at the top were definitely worth it! Thoroughly enjoyed this- great scenery, awesome marshals, great support (and sweets) en route... Undulating but plenty on downhills and flat bits to enjoy. The river crossing was also great fun and a refreshing way to finish. Organisation was exemplary- easy to park, bag drop was easy, hardly any queue for the loos... Nice atmosphere despite it being a 'club' race- didn't feel elitey at all. Nice goody bag with a banana, much welcome choc bar, water, sweatshop voucher and a gym towel... Will definitely be back, feel like me and Trooper Lane have unfinished business! Date of review: May 4, 2014
In short: Fast and flat. A bit dull? In full: The Good Bits: - fast and flat. a definite for a PB i'd say - well organised in terms of entries, number being sent in the post, very good info pack to download, regular email updates, bag drop was seemless - some really vocal support en route- with people handing out sweets and drinks. thanks to all the local residents for that- much appreciated - easy to get to with the metrolink - nice medal and a really top tech tee
Not so good bits: - really didn't like the course. the first few miles with the loopbacks were stupid and quite frustrating, difficult to get going in a regular rhythm. Also, because much of the course was two-way, it all got a bit crammed and, again, difficult to find a rhythm. was much less noticeable in the second half as people started to get a bit more strung out.
- water stations. the people manning them were great, but the first few were really difficult to actually get a drink at. I didn't see the signs (too low down possibly?) and a lot of people were stopping dead and trying to make their way to the sides for drinks...again, improved as the course became less crammed in the second half. - the Iconiq water pouches? Not a fan. either got a dribble of water or a face full. also tasted really strange and chemically. Would have REALLY appreciated a lucozade/powerade or similar at 16-20 mile mark- rather than more chemical toilet water! - Cliff shot bloks...now i love these, train with them all the time. But after 26 miles of them i felt ill. thought we were getting bloks and gels? only saw bloks... - mile markers...again, didn't see many in the first half- perhaps think about positioning?
i've said 'maybe' to a return. its very local for me...but don't think i would recommend that people travel far- unless you want a PB- it has definite potential for that... Date of review: April 6, 2014
In short: Well organised, highly recommended In full: Would definitely recommend this race- was a little frightened as seemed to be a LOT of very serious club runners and the booklet was advising a 2.30 hour cut off time and no earphones etc...but was actually very friendly, seemed to be a real mix of runners taking part- including lots with earphones, so don't let that put you off- roads were closed, so no real safety concerns. organisation was excellent, the booklet was very informative, plenty of parking at the start (we parked at the pub for £5 and then got that money off food/drinks after the race). there were markers for people to choose where to start depending on finishing time- as usual lots of people who paid no heed to this so the first mile was a bit bottle necked for me, a little difficult to get going (i was in the 1.50 zone)...but after that the crowds thinned out a lot. course was very picturesque, lots of vocal support in the villages that the rave went through- some lovely people handing out jelly babies and really cheering people on, which was nice. marshals all very encouraging and friendly, and water stations well manned and in frequent places on the course. only real criticism here is that the middle two stations had cups instead of bottles- so i ended up wearing my water rather than drinking it! course was mildly undulating, but nothing to be scared of- and plenty of downhill/long flat sections to really attack. goody bag had a really top quality medal and really nice tech tee and a mars bar which went down a treat. there were also people handing out water, powerade and space blankets which was appreciated. All in all, really enjoyed the day, will be back in the future no doubt. many thanks to organisers and volunteers :) Date of review: March 23, 2014
In short: Yes it is quite hilly...but definitely worth it! In full: This was my first ever 20 mile race- in preparation for Manchester Marathon, which will be my second marathon. I was a bit worried that it would be elitist and full of whippet-types- but was very pleasantly surprised. Yes there did seem to be a lot of club runners and fast fast people, but there were also lots of 'normal' runners too! Organisation was like clockwork throughout the whole day, cannot fault anything about it- very friendly marshals all the way round providing lots of encouragement. Ample water stations on what was a very hot day for early March, which were also giving out sweets, gels and chocolates and, importantly, sponges!
The course is definitely undulating, although there are plenty of nice downhill sections to make up for the uphills! The worst bit was the last three miles as there were a few sneaky inclines that I had forgotten about on the way out. No headphones are allowed which had worried me, but it was fine in the end- there was lots of support in the various villages we went through and there was a good friendly atmosphere amongst the runners, which sometimes I think you lose when everyone has headphones on. The roads aren't all closed so I can totally understand why there are no headphones, it would be a safety issue. At the end there was water, goody bag with banana and chocolate in it and the all important Cheese Cob (which I couldn't eat as I'm gluten free :( ). The famous Ashby hoody is also very nice. There were free massages laid on to with a wait time of about 5 minutes- definitely worth it Would thoroughly recommend this race- will definitely be back for more! Date of review: March 11, 2014
In short: Great Fun, lived up to its name! In full: Thoroughly enjoyed this race which we entered as a pair for a bit of a laugh- we did the 11 mile route (which actually came up at about 10.3 on my garmin, quite a nice suprise near the end!)... the scenery was lovely, quite a few inclines (especially at the start) and absolutely tonnes of mud, so great fun. The directions and map were very easy to follow, marshals and water stations at very regular intervals (with some lovely custard cream biscuits- just what the doctor ordered at around the 7 mile mark!)- we carried a camelback but didn't really need it. Atmosphere was extremely relaxed, there were a few club runners and the leaders seem to have posted good times but there were also some slower runners and even walkers- so all abilities catered for. afterwards there was (included in the entry fee) a lovely pie and peas and homemade cakes on offer in the village hall, as well as a hospipe for washing off legs and trainers. Goody bag was excellent- a nice medal, wooly hat, pair of gloves, clean socks (thank you so much for these!), water and a chocolate bar- it had only said 'memento' on the entry form- so the goody bag was a very nice suprise. organisation ran like clockwork, extremely friendly- will definitely be back :) Date of review: February 20, 2014
In short: A definite on my running calendar, can't recommend enough In full: I ran this race last year and thoroughly enjoyed it so was looking forwards to it today. It did not disappoint. The weather was pretty bad- ridiculous headwind for the first 3/4k which might have put paid to a few PBs- but it is a fast course nontheless as very flat and plenty of space once you get out of the start. Organisation- from the pre race emails, courtesy car park buses, goody bags, baggage drop- was all excellent. No complaints at all. The technical Tshirt is great quality, as is the medal. I even got an extra tech tshirt (last year's) in my goody bag which was a nice suprise! will definitely be back. Date of review: February 9, 2014
In short: Nice first time race...great wagon wheels! In full: I ran this in 2012 as my first ever 10k and returned in 2013- so that should say something. Very friendly, despite a lot of club runners and a quick pace at the front, and well organised. I preferred the route in 2012, didn't really enjoy the little loop at the beginning this time, but it is a nice flat race along the seafront- after a stirring two minute's silence in aid of Remembrance Day. You get a nice medal at the end as well as water, banana and the all important Wagon Wheel. Date of review: January 5, 2014
In short: Muddy but very pretty, I'll be back! In full: Really enjoyed this race- travelled about 70 miles to run on the recommendation of a work colleague and was not disappointed. The route was definitely 'undulating' (even had a sneaky walk up the hill just before the three mile point- carrying extra mince pies and Christmas Pud was definitely a factor) but nothing horrendous and there was plenty of mud, which is always fun. Scenery was stunning and the weather was very kind. Organisation was excellent, marshalls super friendly and encouraging. There seemed to be a lot of club runners but I would say that it was ordinary runner/beginner friendly too. No headphones allowed though so practice without if you are a beginner- plenty to look at to keep you occupied though! Goody bag was excellent. the race cost £13 to enter ( i think) and we got a proper sports bag (the over the shoulder types) which had a protein bar (worth £2), a pair of 'Hilly' gloves and a £5 Sweatshop voucher in, as well as the usual leaflets etc. will be back next year! Date of review: January 5, 2014