In short: Stunning scenery in a well organised race In full: Some lovely scenery of open grasslands, woodland and herds of deer - not what you'd expect this close to the Centre of London. There was a wide mix of runners from the first timers to (if I heard rightly) the 600 timers! Liked the starting straight with the union flags on each side. The marshalls were friendly and did a great job controlling the traffic and giving encouragement. There was some good support on the route as well. This one was tough too so I left feeling a great sense of achievement having completed it. A good medal, t-shirt and pen awaited as a reward at the end, and with Olympian David Weir as guest starter there was nothing more you could want really. Likely to be back again next year. Date of review: May 19, 2015
In short: Badly organised, obscenely good medal though! In full: Hard to know where to start with this one. The good bits were very good and the bad bits were very bad. To be precise it was the flowery bits - medal, Tshirt, Henry VIII shaped biscuits at the end. Henry VIII himself, the choir - that were good. It was the guts of the race that were lacking, starting with the route - this needs a complete rethink. I liked the section on the gravel in front of the palace but that was about as good as it got. A better organised start within the park, on a straight section, and having the start/finish in the same place would be good. There needed to be more proactive organisation by the marshalls. Some marshalls were enthusiastic and helpful, some were standing around like spare parts. And the water - it should be 4 miles, 7 miles and 10/11 miles - not rocket science. The bad points aside this race has potential with the right number of competitors - no more than 1800 - and the right route, preferably wholly within the park. Date of review: March 30, 2015
In short: Very well organised local race - will be back next year. In full: A really good event - the traffic at the road crossings was controlled well by the marshalls who did a great job. There's some really nice scenery along the way and good pockets of support along the route. A nice medal and a great finishers area with a spread of all kinds of food to restore energy levels. Date of review: March 18, 2015
In short: Well organised generally, friendly atmosphere, but finer detail needs work In full: I was coming to this expecting it to be really clubby, being Bushy Park with a reputation as a running hub, but was pleasantly surprised at the friendly parkrun-like atmosphere. The location is very picturesque, plus being pancake flat there is definite PB potential. The terrain is more trail than road, but with the ground firm in most places I was able to get away with road shoes. The course was well marshalled so you always knew where you were, the marshalls were encouraging also – always good if you’re struggling in the latter stages. There was water available which I took advantage of at the end. A couple of gripes – the results on the website leave a lot to be desired, only bib numbers given against times, plus there’s no interface with runbritain rankings which always makes me bristle. The medal looked like something you’d get at a corporate away day for completing a team exercise to build a freestanding structure out of balloons and pencils, or something like that. The design of the t-shirt was good but the cotton flimsy – my suggestion to the organisers would be to ditch the medal and just offer a decent technical t-shirt.
In short: A great race with some lovely scenery In full: With a great deal of the route along the beach and the overcliff roads, the scenery is very pleasant. I wasn't looking forward to the switchback sections but in the event I didn't find them a problem. It was a bit unfortunate having to go through the finish, perhaps something the organisers can look at. The Marshalls and staff involved were very friendly, the water stations plentiful and the start and finish areas worked well. It was a nice touch having Steve Way at the start. Medal and T shirt were good - my only gripe was the cost of the bus ticket - too steep at £8. Date of review: October 7, 2014
In short: A good attempt for an inaugural event In full: It's a brave move startting a new event and opening it up to 12,000 runners (I believe 9.5K toed the start line), and overall the organisers pulled it off, with just some minor issues to address.
The Good: The Start/Finish Area - Hackney Marshes was an ideal venue, large and flat, plenty of room to spread out afterwards. Closed Roads - probably taken for granted by some entrants but this all takes organising. Goodie Bag - I've seen some unfavourable reviews but there were plenty of much needed snacks in there. Plus there was a banana and a drink at the finish. Atmosphere - Some good support on the way round, plus entertainment laid on at the finish.
The not so good: The water pouch things - you had to squeeze them to get the water and that seemed to work ok until you actually tried to drink from one. There's nothing wrong with a sturdy plastic cup! The mile markers - agree with other reviewers. The section through the olympic park - I was looking forward to this part of the course but the organisers could not have chosen a more uninspiring route arount the park if they'd tried - please improve that section for next year :)
All in all a good race with definite PB potential. Date of review: June 23, 2014
In short: Some great marshalling and support, let down by finish area and chip timing. In full: Lets start with the bad – From very early on I noticed people stopping dead and retracing their steps in an oncoming wave of runners to retrieve the timing chips that had fallen out of their flimsy plastic covering. Certainly not an efficient system, and not great for the safety of runners – although this was not the greatest safety concern. The bigger problem was that you were playing with the traffic on some sections – to be fair the organisers did well to cone off sections of the main roads, and the marshalling of the crossover points was done very well, but these sections still felt dicey. The route itself while pleasant in some places, was grim in others. Once you’d got back into Leicester City Centre you couldn’t help feeling that you were getting in the way of a normal day in the City. Also if you’re going to use a path that’s barely wide enough for a runner to get along (7 miles-ish), at least trim back the vegetation! The finish area was poorly organised and confusing. The literature beforehand said water and a banana at the finish. No banana. Just as well I had a carb gel left. I could hardly see in the dark tunnel of the tent where you collected the t-shirt and had your chip removed, and the baggage tent was chaos. If there’s one thing you don’t want to be doing after running 26.2 miles, it’s trading carefully over other people’s bags to retrieve articles that have become detached from your own bag. A bigger tent, with bags placed in number order, with some adult supervision would be my advice to the organisers. The army cadets were doing their best but needed support. The good –Considering the weather there was some great support along the route – the couple that cropped up three times being particularly memorable! As mentioned previously the marshalling was very effective – there was little chance of getting lost as the field thinned out. The water stations were at regular intervals with no wastage problems you get with bottles of water. Gels were also plentiful and appreciated! The medal was also good and I liked the technical running vest – with a humorous nod to the city's recent historical discovery. Overall, there were some good points but a city the size of Leicester deserves a bigger and better event! Date of review: October 15, 2013
In short: An enjoyable event over an interesting and challenging course with plenty of support along the way. In full: The main feeling I got from the event is how smoothly it ran, from the baggage tents which were very well organised to the start line and then the finish area afterwards. The course itself has plenty of turns with a good mix of uphill and downhill to keep things interesting. I liked the three way bit where you passed/ got passed by runners on three different areas of the course. The support along the way was very enthusiastic and came as a pleasant surprise as being a local half marathon I expected empty streets. water stations were plentiful and well manned - could have benefited from smaller bottle sizes? The medal at the end was great and the Clif bar was superb, plus you could grab some free samples from the Clif tent. No need for a goody bag full of mostly bits of card that you would end up chucking anyway. Access to the start/finish area was just around the corner from a couple of tube stations too which made getting there/away straightforward. If there is one thing the organisers may want to look at it's a staggered start - the first couple of miles were a bit bunchy, but that's a small criticism of what basically was a very good half. Date of review: September 30, 2013
In short: A great scenic course with the right amount of challenge. In full: The start/finish venue was easy to find and easy to get to from Weymouth where I was staying. There were around 200 competitors, mostly from local clubs but the atmosphere was welcoming. The size of the field was just right for the course - it was never too bunched but never too empty either. The course wasn't traffic free but felt safe - Marshalls were posted at all major junctions. The water stations were plentiful although the cups were a bit flimsy and difficult to drink from. The only problem was the last 50 metres or so which was actually quite dangerous - a stretch of grass riddled with potholes which upended one runner, and nearly brought down a number of others. All in all well worth doing and I'll be back in 2014. Date of review: July 9, 2013
In short: A good flat half with a big field and a decent atmosphere. In full: This is the third time I've taken part in the Southend half and I've noticed improvements on the previous occasions. The biggest positives were the marshalling and the water/sponge stations which were plentiful - it was easy to stay hydrated. After the start it was a bit bunched for the first few turns, but after a while there was enough space to run in comfortably. There were some decent pockets of support along the route which was good considering it was a cold day.
The medal was the best yet, and hopefully not develops the rust spots of the previous couple I collected. The only thing left to improve is the finishing area which was fairly confused, and I noticed a long long queue develops at the baggage collection tent. The finish area was good though - nothing like a cup of tea and a burger at the end of a race! Date of review: June 11, 2013