In short: Remember - Lincolnshire is flat In full: There seems to be a pact amongst race directors throughout Lincolnshire to dispel the belief in the flatness of the county. Once again I found myself hauling myself uphills, although this time the organisers added the sadistic little touch of motivational messages- "Are you walking?", "Lincolnshire's flat", "While you're running this we're stealing your car" (I made that last one up!) up the sides of both of the hills. The towpath was a nice forgiving surface, but it was quite difficult to pass along its length and quite narrow under the bridges. There was plenty of water, both on course and afterwards. The marshalls were encouraging, if sometimes a little too crazy for a knackered athlete to appreciate. After that second hill it was good to have a downhill coast into Grantham- a stadium finish is always a nice touch, and unlike in Stamford last month, the clock was spot on. Despite the terrain, I managed to take about a minute off my PB- though we were promised by the race director that PBs wouldn't happen, I set mine in Watford in February- which is another hilly course. Took a while to pick up the tee shirt, though. Helpfully, we arrived just 20 minutes before the race and could still park right outside the stadium.
That was a very enjoyable race, thanks GAC. Date of review: March 8, 2009
In short: Seamless organisation and a good challenge make this a must-do race. In full: Almost everything about this race ticks the "come again" box. Parked in the school grounds, so I could leave my kit in the car and not worry about baggage storage. Only a couple of minutes later I left the race HQ with my number and a very fancy t-shirt. 22 seconds to cross the start line seems fine to me.
A course over rolling hills- none of them, to be honest, too challenging, passing by duckponds, chickens who've escaped from the farm, and very little traffic.
Almost all the distance markers were spot-on, the marshalls enthusiastic and the water stations well stocked. A bonus energy drink station some way over half-way round.
The only complaint I have is that I sprinted to the finish looking at the finish line clock to finish in 2:59, only to have missed my 3 hour target by some ten seconds.
I will run this next year. Date of review: February 16, 2009
In short: It's not called the "Tough Ten" for nothing. In full: Loved it, despite some tough hills and refreshing rain throughout the full ten miles. The sausage and chips was a nice touch, even if we couldn't hear our order numbers over the awards ceremony. Steve got the results online in a matter of a couple of hours as well- which is always great on his part. Date of review: September 6, 2008
In short: Like a piece of art by M.C.Escher In full: Just kept going uphill! That was a very pleasant race with just the right amount of challenge on a day like today. Enough width of the roads were closed to allow passing with relative ease. There was plenty of water- and although I'm not that fussed about cups or bottles, I'd rather not have to wait for a cup to be filled up, as happened once. The killer hill wasn't all that killer, but was a tough ask. Passage through the funnels at the end was brisk, there were plenty of toilets at the start/finish- some of which even flushed and a snack bar at the end to help refuel. I loved it and will be back next year. Date of review: June 29, 2008
In short: I wanted a poo! Not too good for wellwishers. In full: I've done a handful of races in my lifetime. This was the one, this year, that I was building up towards. I managed to nab a charity place and my family were very generous in my appeal and wanted to cheer me on. I could hardly refuse.
The weekend was superb. I enjoyed watching the kids on the Saturday, as well as the elite 1 mile and 3k races. The Expo was nothing to write home about, though and to be fair, I'll probably give it a miss if I get in next year.
On the day I chose to park in South Shields and get the Metro in. That worked fine by me, mum, mum-in-law and wife all got a seat and I arrived in good time for the start.
I've always made it a rule to try to have a good clear-out pre-race, but by the time I found my starting pen, the queues for the portaloos were enormous. I spent 30 minutes in a queue without even getting near. I gave up in the end and hoped I'd be OK.
The starting pens seemed like a good idea, and to be fair, I finished with a good few runners who started in my pen. However, a good time in running kit in a previous year does not a good run in fancy dress make. I spent a lot of time weaving across the road to pick my way around the fancy-dress runners.
The good people of Tyneside cheering us on were fantastic, and offered up great extra goodies - orange segments, cakes and beer being particularly popular - they really made the day.
11-mile hill was not too nasty, really.
I'd quite like for future paricipants to learn to drink while running. I went to the rear of the feeding stations only to find a mass of runners stopped to drink. While on this subject, can you please try and throw your bottles away from the road?
The only real problem is that it took my party of wellwishers well over two hours to get from the start to the finish. Consequently they missed me arriving. I know what to do next time!
Exit from South Shields, in the special place we parked, which I'm never sharing with anyone, was pretty effortless really, given the scale of the thing.
I didn't get the chance to stop for a poo 'til York, though! Date of review: October 4, 2007