In short: I love this race, and those glorious hills, again!! In full: This is without doubt my favourite marathon of the year as its always guaranteed to put a smile on your face even when your body wants to give up. It has to be one of the hardest marathons on the calender bar none as its relentless hills (not little ones either) and final climbs over the Seven Sisters and Beachy Head are thoroughly testing even for the hardest fellow. Finishing always brings about a major sense of relief and euphoria more than any other that I know including most ultras too. I always love the jacket spud, sausage and beans at the end which is always a great finishing touch and this year they also had For Goodness Shakes on hand for recovery which for me personally I love.
The only thing I would like to say to the organisers is to get rid of the NEW chip timing as it isn't necessary for this type of race and if it was down to this that they didn't send the numbers out this year, to avoid costs spiraling, then get rid as the chaos surrounding collecting the numbers and chip timings at the start was chaotic and the only part of the organisation that was let down. If not I couldn't care less as this is one of my favorites and I'll always be back, for more punishment. Oh and maybe I'll be able to get over the Seven Sisters without having to walk the ups, just for once. Date of review: October 23, 2011
In short: Fantastic event with some of the best organisation ever In full: This was my first time to the Farnham marathon and also the North Downs. Whilst it didn't go up to Box Hill or some others of notable climbs it still had a lot of undulations and some really hilly sections too. I didn't find it as hard as I expected but then I'm more used to doing the Lakes or South Downs which are much hillier. One of the most notable hills was in fact right at the end coming up to the finish line, which of course felt a lot harder after just finishing 26 miles. As for the organisation, you won't find better. Everything from the water stops (every 2-3 miles at least) to the route markings (faultless). The organisers even spray painted orange all the ruts and roots and anything you might trip up on through the wooded sections, brilliant. Some of the route would be very hazardous to try at night as there was so much you could in fact trip on. There were also parts of the course that slowed you down a bit to get a rest as single file was the only way through with others in front. The value for money by doing this event was amazing as for the entrance fee they gave you a medal and t-shirt and goodie bag with a bandana also included, you won't find better, I'll be back. Date of review: September 19, 2011
In short: Excellent value for money again in Dunstable In full: Did the full marathon distance at this underrated fantastic value for money event. When you pays your money you know that its gonna be a course that has no markings but as its called a challenge thats exactly what you get a challenge. Considering there are events out there at more than in some cases 4 times the cost you still get enough checkpoints with all the necessary stuff you need, water, jelly babies etc. It is a little hilly in places but once you've done a few on the circuit like the South Downs and Beachy Head then Dunstable is very manageable and very beautiful and scenic. I'll be back. Date of review: September 12, 2011
In short: Brilliant event from Rory and Jen In full: Would agree with the other comment about being led into a false sense of security surrounding the fact that this was going to be 12 miles up and 28 down ish. Well this was one myth to put to bed after having completed it and it would be fairly safe to safe to say that this could be classed as a hilly to undulating run at least. Fantastic all the same and my thanks go out to Rory Coleman and Jen Salter for putting on a brilliant event that I for one will be back again next year. Date of review: August 22, 2011
In short: Could be so much better In full: I did the 42km or marathon if you like. I'm just gonna reiterate what has already been said by many really and that is to say that this race has all the makings of a very special race or challenge as the man at the start said. But it was ominous from the start when we all and I mean all went off in the wrong direction. There needed to be a marshal directing at least at this point as the elite guys even got it wrong and everyone else was following them. The signage was very bad and in places it was hard to know if you was going in the right direction as it was easy to find yourself completely alone and then you may come to another arrow almost hidden in the foliage, very bad. As another mentioned this race is made for walkers and there needs to be a conscientious effort to try and see this event from a runners point of view. The organisers either need to make the signs clearer or give a better road book so we all know where we stand. I too got lost a couple of times, not badly but lost all the same so don't know how many more miles I may have done. I was on for a good time till this happened too. The water stations needed to be better than just water and hard sweets and also I thought the distance between checkpoint 2 and 3 was way too far apart. Its also been mentioned that this event probably has too many other events going on at the same time at different distances and this was very obvious at times as some walkers were going one way and people on mountain bikes going the other and everyone crossing each others paths and this caused confusion too.
Apart from all this though it was one of most beautiful events I have done for scenery and a fantastic experience to be part of as I have done many runs and races through the South Downs and it always amazes me how much there still is to be found.
I would like to come back to do this again next year but hope the organisers take note from some of the ramblings here and surprise us all. Date of review: July 16, 2011
In short: Another fantastic event, well done 209 In full: What can you say about a race that has so much already. The weather was perfect, the sceneary was the South Downs at its best and the organisation faultless. Date of review: June 12, 2011
In short: Very challenging course with some tough hills In full: My first time to the Northants 35 and I only live a short'ish distance down the motorway so was surprised to find the Northamptonshire coutryside a lot more challenging than expected. The course was catagorised as undulating but this was seriously understated as it was very hilly indeed and comparable with some of the more sigificant hillier races that happen in other areas of the UK. Overall the organisation of the event and checkpoints were well stocked and people manning them were very happy and friendly. My only issue was with the poor map sent out. I would've prefered a better roadbook with better descriptions although for the most it was adequete and ok but I know a few people had problems when the offroad parts got a little more challenging. Overall I would come back to this ultra and recommend it to anyone else looking for a step up from marathon as it was very challenging and good value for money as ultras go. Date of review: June 5, 2011
In short: And you thought Richmond was flat!! In full: Brilliant race considering this was the first year, normally need a couple of years to get it spot on. Fantastic organisation from start to finish and extremely good value for money I expect as others have said this will be popular in the future. This was surprisingly tougher than I expected too as the ground was hard trail and the hills towards the section when you come back around to the start (3.5 laps) were brutal and I had been warned by a friend who knows the area better than me. Hard to know how they will better this for next year as so much was done well already. Date of review: May 15, 2011
In short: Tough challenging course over the South Downs In full: I found this 27 mile marathon much harder this year even though I would say the weather was a major improvement on last years rain and sleet over the downs. It was very hot and windy and at times it made the up hills even harder than they already were but hey ho small price to pay. As usual the organisation and the course were both excellent and challenging at all times and I for one will be back again. Date of review: May 2, 2011
In short: Faultless!! In full: Hard to fault this event. Everything from the staggered starts to the organisers, and good humour. The road book was exceptional and very easy to follow. I also used the gpx file that they made available and it worked a treat alongside the road book and as a result hardly got lost once. The weather was a bit on the hot side for a 40 miler but would've been so much worse if it had been raining all the way round, even caught a tan. For the entry fee you won't find a better organised event and the water stops were some of the most frequent and well stocked I've ever come across. A really nice addition was the extra two water stops (with snacks too) that were laid on cause of the hot weather, very nice touch. Oh and also the vary nice meal at the end too. A big thanks goes out to Peter Page who put together the gpx files for GPS route. I for one will be back next year. Date of review: April 18, 2011