In short: Outstanding road-running race, despite peripheral problems In full: This is a fabulous race, and my personal experience was brilliant.
The course is an absolute blast - the only little hill lasts for a very short distance and it's in a area with deafening spectator support. The rest of the way it's flat, extremely wide and really really fast.
The drink stations were staffed perfectly, every marshall smiled, the goody bag was the best I have ever received (including the London Marathon), the medal is great quality. The crowd support was superb, and the inclusivity feeling for everybody - fast and slow - was heartening.
OK, there was a cock-up at the start and we were delayed by an hour. Of course it was pure luck, but I was grateful that the extra hour allowed the rainfall to stop before the race started. Once you know about the delay it was no bother - there are so many coffee/tea shops and fast-food shops in Bath, everybody had somewhere to wait.
I agree that the drink stations need to be on both sides of the road on the second lap. The faster runners were unable to access the stations because all the slower runners were kept to the left side of the road. That should be easily fixed.
Other than that, all I would ask of the organisers is that they look at the weather forecast and lay some decking down in the race village (a lesson learned and fixed at the Great South Run after similar problems in 2006).
I loved the medal, t-shirt and goody bag and was carefully handed them by happy marshalls. I guess I was lucky in finishing in the sharp-end of the field, but I can only comment on my own experience.
Finally, I really don't object to paying £28 for a fast city-centre race on closed roads, Police and St John Ambulance support and good rewards at the end.
Bath have some lessons to learn, but for me this was a terrific experience and I will be back.
In short: Simply brilliant. In full: I made a six-hour round trip for this race, and it was well worth it!
The course is undulating - there are no hills to speak of. There is a one-mile ascending drag around mile 5 and mile 13, and the last couple of miles. There are, of course, some very fast downhill miles too.
It's a really nice course, just turns to keep it interesting, without interrupting your pace.
The revelation of the race is the constant (every 2.5 miles) supply of bottled water - in proper sport bottles. Hats off to ALDI supermarkets for their support of the race.
The marshalls were constantly supportive, and I appreciated the help of every single one of them.
The finish-line commentary was great, the car parking easy (and free!), the post-finish area was great (more free water, sports drink, food, etc).
Results were posted up within minutes of the runners finishing (I saw my result within ten minutes of my finish).
A well-designed high-quality sweatshirt was a great reward for a longer-than-average weekend race.
I agree that the start-line should have been more clearly marked on the road (so people could start their own watches at the correct point), but otherwise this race is faultless.
In short: Doesn't win any awards, but still a nice race around Winchester In full: Yes, the course is constantly undulating. It is not really hilly just a lot of ups and downs - but then this is Winchester - there is not a lot of flat terrain in the city!
The start was a tad congested, and the drinks station could have done with more water, but these are very minor niggles.
I enjoyed the course, liked the challenge of the slopes (even got a PB on them, by one second) and thought the finish was very good - a fast lap around the track and lots of cheering opportunities for spectators.
The race t-shirt was good value, and I thoroughly enjoyed my morning in Winchester.
Don't forget that if you travel any distance, take some time after the race to explore Winchester - one of the best cities in Britain.
In short: Flat, fast and deservedly popular. In full: Another excellent Stubbington Green 10k.
This is a perfect PB course - flat, wide, no tight bends. Just pure speed. If you have the time you can see the sights - the world's only hovercraft museum, the air-sea-rescue helicopter, the boats on the Solent.
A little breeze in the first 3km slowed the times slightly, but nothing too dramatic.
As usual the starts seemed to be stretched to capacity with over one-thousand runners. There was a lot of bumping and grinding going on, even relatively near the front. I'd happily pay the extra for chip-timing here. That is the only improvement I'd make to a consistently excellent race.
PS Since the race-instructions were only available on-line, it may have been prudent to have printed a slip of paper with a link to them, sent with the race numbers? Date of review: January 13, 2008
In short: I made a 1300-mile round-trip to run these 10 miles. Need I say more?! In full: Organising great races is in the blood up here in the Lossimeouth, Elgin, Moray area of Scotland.
After immensely enjoying the "RAF Kinloss to RAF Lossiemouth Half-Marathon" back in February, I couldn't wait to come back for this end-of-year 10-miler.
Race HQ has everything you need, at the Lossiemouth Community Centre. The start was a short jog from the HQ, very welcome on a cold (-2degC) but bright and sunny morning. Almost 200 starters huddled together at RAF Lossiemouth, being guarded by a Tornado fighter jet. The course is undulating throughout, but the only "hill" is a 100-metre sprint inside the first mile. Thereafter it tours the characteristic granite-built town centre, out through one of the famous golf courses, along the coat road with views of the Firth of Forth before turning inland along some quiet country lanes past grazing sheep and beautiful unspoiled countryside.
The absence of wind today really helped me chip another 2 minutes off my PB, so it was a great day all round.
Special mention also to the massage team, who worked hard to raise money for the local charity.
These races are very well organised and the local area is so unspoiled and quiet, it is idyllic racing territory.
Will I make another 1300-mile round-trip for a race up here? Oh yes!
In short: This course is so flat you could play play bowls on it! In full: Two flat, fast laps around the seafront, harbour and residential roads of Gosport.
The organisers and facilities coped perfectly with the huge number of runners - a wide start and outstanding marshalling made the difference.
The lovely weather helped today, and was certainly a little more pleasant that last weekend's deluge in Jersey!
Drink stations were well spaced, and well staffed. In fact, with all the officials, marshalls, helpers, St John Ambulance and Police, I don't think I have ever seen so much race-support at a half-marathon. A real testiment to the organisers.
This is definately the fastest HM course I have run, although today I was limited to 7'30" miling, with a marathon in jst seven day's time. How I wish I could have race it today!
Well done Gosport Road Runners, a brilliant race.
PS I'd have bought a non-white shirt too, had they not been for the ladies only! Date of review: November 25, 2007
In short: Wind, rain, wind, rain, but nothing can stop this being the best race of the year. In full: This is my third straight year of travelling to this race, and after two years of bright sunshine, this year the weather was ANGRY! Over two inches of rain fell in the hour-and-a-half of racing, for most of the race we battled a 30mph side-wind, trudged through floods yet loved every minute of it!
Certainly not my HM PB this year, but who cares?! I think every one of us stood on that startline doubted whether we should race, yet we all did, and we all beat the weather today.
I am totally humbled by the marshalls, the water station helpers, the local police - everybody out on the course. I tried to say "thank you" to every helper I passed, and if I missed anybody then they deserve to get a big "thanks" now. Also, the young ladies unwrapping the foil blankets at the finish were doing a brilliant job.
The organisers, and the Mayfair Hotel sponsor should be so proud that they have the best half-marathon on Britain. It's a wonderful testiment to Roy's organisation, and he leaves some big shoes to fill for next year's organiser.
Remember, the weather is usually glorious here, and I'll be here in 2008 to enjoy it. I hope there'll be loads more people here too.
In short: Very well organised, and extremely welcoming In full: The five-mile version of this race involves almost three laps of Battersea Park. Personally I find multiple-lap races tougher than conventional road races, but others prefer them.
The course is flatter than a flat pancake and the park is nice and quiet at 8am. Free parking too, for those who can be back to their cars before 9am. Car park is only a dozen steps from the finish, which is laden with free apples and cereal bars.
The race was run by a friendly and supportive bunch, and everybody was made to feel welcome. There were some gazelles up the front, but the biggest cheers were reserved for those who's completion of the course was a victory in itself.
I got the impression this is one of the most welcoming events for beginners, and/or slower runners.
A really nice start to the weekend, and I will be back for other races in the series in 2008.
PS Make sure you find a toilet before you arrive at the park. Although there are plenty of them, they are not open before 8am! Date of review: November 12, 2007
In short: Now my favourite 10-mile race In full: This is a terrific race, and it deserves a lot more entries.
The course is an absolutely blinder - ever-so gentle uphill and downhill sections always seen to yield faster times than pure flatness (to me).
Here you are rewarded by the first couple of miles of gentle downhill, then out into the countryside along little leafy lanes, mostly on the flat. There is about half-a-mile of private (half-surfaced, half-track) road, then back on the leafy lanes.
The last couple of miles are very gently uphill, but not enough to cause concern. You just need to dig deep to accelerate your pace up those hills! With 1/2-mile to go, it turns into downhill, and you have a real blast back into the park for the final stretch.
It's a nice clean finish, with lots of room for spectators and great for that last push to the line.
OK, there was a little but of industrial estate, but it was ultra-flat, wide and free of traffic. I liked it - gave a good contrast to the other sections of the race, and it was FAST! Please keep this section in the race for 2008. :-)
I knocked 2.5 mins off my PB, and enjoyed the race a great deal more than last weekend's Great South Run.
The memento was amazing - a 3D laser-cut glass paperweight, really very cool. All the volunteers were friendly and extraordinarily welcoming. Huge amounts of car-parking and easy quick access in/out by car.
This is what British road-racing is all about - a fast run around scenic country lanes with a bunch of friendly people, and a nice reward. How could anybody not like this race?
See you here in 2008.
PS It should be noted that personal music players should NOT be warn at any organised race, as it prevents you hearing marshall's instructions. Admittedly this should have been explained in the pre-race material, but it is a standard race practice. Date of review: November 7, 2007
In short: Flat, fast, spectacular. If only the weather was nice, this would be perfectt. In full: This is an awesome flat 10-mile blast around some of the most picturesque areas of one of the best cities in Great Britain. You pass the world's first ironclad warship, Nelson's flagship HMS Victory, Charles Dickens's birthplace, views of the Spinnaker Tower and the Isle of Wight and get to see Europe's only scheduled hovercraft service. Even even you walk this race, you'll love it.
The course contains the perfect mix of a few bends, pancake-flat terrain and roads as broad as Cheri Blair's grin.
It was most unfortunate that the weather Gods delivered heavy rain and gusty winds today. Met reports show the headwind in the last two miles was 25mph, gusting to 45mph. It felt more like 70! Character-building stuff that, my lad!
Seriously, for all the hard work on that final stretch we were all entertained by the parallel run (in the opposite direction) with the big tailwind.
Portsmouth is an island with only two roads connecting it to the mainland, so not a lot anybody could do about getting all those cars out any faster. If anybody is to blame it is the company maintaining the railway network, who are months late with an upgrade and who closed all rail routes in and out all weekend.
My only gripe is the usual high price charged by the Great Run company. Still, their races fill up within a few weeks, so if people are willing to pay...
PS The "Portsmouth Mile", held the day before the GSR, is a great warm-up, although poorly advertised. Look out for it next year on the Portsmouth Council website. Date of review: October 28, 2007