In short: Well organised and scenic with harder-than-average 'undulations' In full: Good organisation, nice, virtually traffic-free course and nice weather.
I use my GPS to evaluate courses in terms of average metres gained per mile. I consider this to be a useful way of comparing courses based on assumption that you lose more time going up than you make up coming down.
Flitwick might be a 'fast' course for some, but is is the hardest of the six 10k races I have run to-date on the average metres gained per mile basis (see below).
Flitwick 20.6 Croydon 20.1 Woburn 15.8 (my PB) Chelmsford 13.8 Chessington 13.4 Standalone (Letchworth) 12.4 Date of review: April 16, 2007
In short: Fast course, smooth organisation. In full: Took nearly 2 mins off PB, so that might colour my views. A couple of hills, but generally fairly flat and also one very long downhill phase.
Had no problems leaving/collecting bags - perhaps just just missed the rush (sub-1:35 finish). Had pre-booked car space, which also woprked out very well. No delays in arriving at car park either (arrived just before 8am however). In general, thought organsiation was smooth, esp considering about 10,000 runners. Having said that, have not entered race of this size before, so have no similar event to compare it with. Finish in the staduim was a nice touch - the nearest I'll ever get to an Olympic-style finale!
All-in-all I enjoyed the day out. Date of review: April 2, 2007
In short: Fast, mildly undulating, no traffic (on the course) but ... In full: Friendly, fast, and generally very well-orgainsed and, notwithstanding my major gripe below, I did somehow manage a new PB, despite having to start near the back and run the 1st 2k about 40 secs/mile below my target pace.
We were advised to arrive at main gates no later than 9:30 am in order to allow for traffic to car-park (M1 roadworks were also mentioned). I was on schedule to arrive at about 9:10 coming eastbound on the A507 until I had to take a massive diversion which added about 20 mins to my journey. So, I did end up at main gates at 9:30 am after all.
It then took half an hour to get to the car park from there. I had to sprint a few hundred yards across the car park to reach the back of the field just as the race got under way. I needed the loo, and had no time to warm up or do any stretches.
I would have though that, given this major diversion on the A507, the start might have been delayed by 10-15 mins at least. There must have been many runners who didn't even get parked before the race started who had to take the same diversion as myself. There had been NO WARNING of these delays on the eastboound A507 in either the written race info in the post, nor on an email bulletin from the organisers on 1st March.
I appreciate that a delayed start would have been frustrating for those who managed to get parked in good time, but I do not think it was fair to penalise those who were delayed by a major (un-communicated) diversion only a few miles outside Woburn.
I would do this race again, but if you want to warm up, stretch and go to the loo before the race starts, I suggest you get to the main gates by 9am (with or without unexpected diversions), not 9:30am as suggested by the organisers.
In short: A very well-organised race, but mostly on pavements. In full: The organsisation made this event worth doing, and to a large extent, made up for a course which is run near enough 100% on pavements through residential streets (up/down kerbs, crossing side-streets, narrow in parts etc). It was nice to be able to warm up on an athletics track however.
So, hats off too the Race Director and the marshals, especially those on Roding Lane who had a tough job in aranging for runners to cross a busy road. Most drivers seemed to be co-operative, although I did almost have to stop on the first main circuit.
Patches of genuine encouragement from members of the public too in places (as well as from the marshals), which was appreciated. The jelly-babies were a nice idea, even though I only succeeded in knocking them out of the poor lady's hand (sorry about that if you get to read this)!
Appreciating that one runner's 'undultion' is another runner's 'hill', this was the most undulting of my 3 half-marathons to-date, largely thanks to the topography of the valley that gives the race its name. Knocking a few secs off my PB was therefore very pleasing.
All-in-all, would probably do it again. Full printed results pinned up in club house very soon after race too. Not seen that before. Date of review: February 26, 2007
In short: Well-organised, no-fuss 10k In full: Most of last 3k is undulating gradually upwards. It would pay to take this into account in your pacing. However, was only 10 secs over my PB, so this is quite a fast course.
Nice-looking T shirt, choccy and energy drink at the end
My only quibble would be too much running on narrow pavements in last couple of km. Date of review: February 12, 2007
In short: Well-organised race. Undulating, but not really hilly. In full: Most of 'ups' are in the first 9 miles or so, then mostly downhill or flat. Negative split likely. A couple of the downhill sections are quite steep in latter stages, so challenging in their own way. Very little traffic (mostly quiet country lanes) apart from one short stretch on a main road.
Useful-looking water bottle/waist-carrier as 'freebie'. Brass-band carols and group warm-up were nice touches. Date of review: January 15, 2007
In short: Nice, fast course, but organisation could improve In full: Took nearly 2 mins off my PB, so naturally pleased with that and it was very pleasant run on country lanes for most part. Undulating, but gradients quite shallow on the whole and I was able to keep a pretty consistent pace througout. Pair of socks in goody bag, which look quite useful.
Took me 10 mins to find race HQ on arrival at staduim (no signs). Also poor signage to direct you to start line some half mile away. There was a short-cut across playing field, but this was only signed half-way across playing field and so not visible from HQ! Would have expected someone to lead runners in right direction at least. There was a map on clubhouse wall exterior, but this did not indicate the short-cut either. Also no organised bag storage - just had to leave it loose in the clubhouse. Very glad this was not my first ever race in respect of organisation, as certainly not beginner-friendly.
Despite the negatives, this is a very nice and faster-than-average course. Now I know the ropes, next year will be all plain sailing! Date of review: November 20, 2006
In short: Great organisation and good fun - shame about the start In full: My first HM and thorougly enjoyed it. Parking and shuttle-caoches were very good as were facilities at the athletics stadium. Great marshalling and encouragement along the way. Only quibble was with the start.
Runers were kept in the stadium until only a few minutes from the start-time. Then there was a bum-fight to get to the start line with one marshall chastising runners for taking too long to walk to the start! Runners should have been allowed to assemle for the start earlier. The race started without any announcement, gun or claxon, so it was only evident because everyone started running! It took me around 45 secs to pass the start line and for many others it will have been much more if they were at the back of the bottle-neck to exit the stadium gates.
The strange start was the only blight on an otherwise very well-run and enjoyable event. Date of review: November 5, 2006
In short: This novice enjoyed a well-orgainsed and friendly event In full: I'm quite new at this game and not a great fan of hills, but found the 'big' hill less daunting than I'd feared - more long than steep. There's also a quite long downill stretch to look forward to.
Found other runners friendly, and this helped make this a very enjoyable outing, esp as this was only my 2nd 10k race. That, the hot tea, muffins and a PB under 45 mins!
No changing faclilties (that I could see), so just stipped off behind a marquee. Good job the rain held off until after the race. Long queue for portaloos, but being a chap, a quick visit to the trees sufficed. The ladies might take a different view.
Will be back for another try in April. Date of review: October 26, 2006