In short: Halstead - not hilly, but still challenging In full: This is such a cool event. The undulations are pretty challenging, considering we don't really DO hills in Essex. The scenery is lovely. The support from all the local residents is great, with 'unofficial' water stations, kids giving out jaffa cakes, milky ways and sweeties.
The organisation was excellent and the organisers clearly do listen to feedback, as there were masses of toilets at the race HQ. Unfortunately, some runners were still peeing around the field, though there was really no need to do so.
I love to run with an iPod, but I completely understand why they are banned from this race. There are too many other road users around for people to 'zone out'.
Great medal this year! Looking forward to next time. Date of review: May 13, 2012
In short: Wonderful course, well organised and challenging In full: This was a really enjoyable (though hard) event. I suspect that had the weather been less wet over the last couple of weeks, it would have been less challenging, but there was a lot of sticky mud, slippery mud, deep mud and puddles. My legs feel very tired after this! Thank goodness for trail shoes.
The race HQ was great, lots of toilets, good catering facilities, lovely staff. Wish more races started from places like this.
Particularly enjoyable to see dogs allowed to run. I wish I had one!
This race converted a non-trail runner, i.e. my husband, who is now keen to look for another trail race to do. Date of review: May 5, 2012
In short: What a great marathon! In full: Yet again, Brighton did us proud! Great support, very smooth organisation, even the weather co-operated. I thought the power station section was better supported this year than last, although it was a shame 'The Wall' wasn't there. It is a tough section, but I think it is probably worse if you don't know what to expect.
I heard a few people complain about the water sachets. I didn't use them myself, as I had a bladder in my backpack, but I think they were far safer than bottles and remove trip hazards.
Weather was perfect and the runner's pen at the end seemed much calmer than last year.
Have already bought places for next year for myself and OH.
Thanks Brighton for a fantastic weekend and a new PB for myself and my OH. Date of review: April 16, 2012
In short: Nice local event, slightly let down by some of the marshalls In full: This is an event local to me and by-and-large I thought it was good. I enjoyed the route and thought the second half was lovely, really showing off the Essex countryside. The mile markers were quite approximate in some places! It was quite funny to see that when the organiser called for all first-timers to put their hands up prior to the start, they all seemed to be at the front of the pen.
The one really negative thing I would say about the race, which really does need sorting out before next year, is the marshalling. Most of the marshalls were excellent, but I question the appropriateness of having youngsters marshalling busy junctions and roundabouts. They simply don't have the road-awareness or authority to handle impatient drivers. One pair had their backs to the T-Junction they were marshalling and failed to react even when a car pulled out right in front of the person behind me, despite the gasps from the spectators. At another T-Junction, towards the garden centre at the end, runners and cars were left to sort themselves out while the marshall was standing 20 yards or so down the road chatting. I appreciate that as runners we all need to watch out when we're on the road, but if a junction/roundabout warrants a marshall - as most in Colchester town centre do - they need to be effective.
To finish on a positive note, I liked the little towel in the goodie bag, very handy to add to my running backpack. Will definitely do this again. Date of review: March 12, 2012
In short: Cracking race, excellent goodie bag made up for weather In full: This was a really good race, with a very easy to follow out-and-back route. On a sunny day, the course would be beautiful, but the rainy weather made it look dramatic and stark, which is also an experience! Lots of encouragement from other runners, who you saw frequently on later/earlier laps. Great marshalls, with a welcoming and very well-stocked base-camp. Brilliantly organised, would highly recommend. Date of review: December 12, 2011
In short: Well organised, great scenery, can't wait till next time In full: I enjoyed this more than I expected to. I did the half this year, but will return to do the full next. Stede Hill was a bit of pain, but otherwise the course was nicey undulating and not too hard - although bizarrely EVERYONE seemed to find the short flat stretch at about 10.3-10.8 miles particularly hard, but no-one could figure out why. Didn't seem like much of a camber, road surface maybe. The scenery was lovely and the route passed some fabulous houses. Race HQ was great and the hotel staff were welcoming and friendly. Date of review: November 13, 2011
In short: Fantastic race, very hard but thoroughly enjoyable In full: Loved this race. It was the first proper trail run I have done and the first really hilly marathon. Although it was tough, the scenery, atmosphere and sense of achievement made it well worthwhile. The only slight niggle was the water running out at Checkpoint 3, which meant I had to get to the next drink station with very little to see me through. Love the Littlington station, it was like arriving at a cocktail party in full swing! Given how far into the course I was passing some of the walkers, they must have set off before sunrise, which is pretty dedicated. I was also very pleased to see For Goodness Shakes at the end, love this product since trying the RW sample. I shall wear my Beachy Head T-Shirt with pride and will be registering for next year as soon as it opens! Date of review: October 23, 2011
In short: Lovely small race, friendly and well organised In full: The course is challenging, but lovely. The marshalls were amazing, the spectators supportive of all runners and it was a thoroughly enjoyable event, despite the heat and wind! The goody bag was really well thought out, nice to have something savoury after all the sports drinks and jelly babies on the course. Same comment about Portaloos, but I can't imagine how many would be enough! Loved the sponges, don't know why they didn't do this at Brighton, it would have helped a lot. I will definitely do this race again.
In short: Great alternative to London In full: I agree with all the comments about the toilets at the start, more would definitely be nice, particularly for the residents around the park, who wouldn't then have to put up with runners peeing in the bushes on the lap of the park!
I also agreed with the suggestion that it would be better to have the power station lap earlier, maybe it could be switched with the loop down Church Road/Street? The support in the latter was amazing.
Overall, although I was personally disappointed with my time, largely due to a chest cold, I enjoyed the race. I am already signed up for next year and have persuaded my husband to do it too. Date of review: April 11, 2011