In short: Cracking Inaugural Event, Organisation second to none! In full: When the race director tells you on the start line that if you don't like hills or mud this is your final chance to back out, you know your in for a treat! It certainly lived up to its name on the Bog front, just when you thought you'd seen the last of the stuff yet another cheeky bog appeared. And we are not talking muddy shoes mud, we are talking mid calf at least and that is if you managed to stay upright! The hills were less taxing, the elevation chart looked worse than I thought it was, the ups were all pretty runnable. There were a hell of a lot of stiles though!
Apart from the fantastic course, two things really set this race apart from others: Great camaraderie from the other runners, really friendly and everyone supporting each other. (Big thankyou to the guy who pulled me to the stile when I was sliding back down the bank not sure I would ever have got up there!). And the marshals. Absolutely brilliant, every single one of them and there was a hell of a lot of them!
For a first running this race deserves 11/10: Fab!
Only slight criticism no ladies showers when I got back, I know this was the decision of the venue and not the race team. But also know the guys had a lovely warm shower whilst we made do with a cold sink!! Date of review: November 5, 2012
In short: Superb race in every way! In full: The scenery and the hills set this race apart from other road marathons.
The hills are tough but all apart from the last one, which unless your a mountain goat is quicker to power walk up, are runnable with enough training in the legs. However, the final mile or so of descent back into Llanberis was an absolute killer, the terrain and gradient had my legs screaming for mercy. However, this was all forgotten when you turn the final corner and are roared home by the locals.
The organisation was great, slick friendly registration, great smiley, vocal marshals and volunteers at the feed stations. Water in bottles huge bonus!
Will definitely be back for 2013 Real sense of achievement on completing the course. Can see why this is rated so highly, it most certainly deserves the titles of 'most beautiful' and 'toughest'.
Only negative is in total agreement with a previous comment about the discarding of litter by a tiny minority of runners. There were bins, there were supporters to give your rubbish to if you couldn't carry it. The organisers are very proud to be a green marathon, should have been respected by all. Date of review: October 29, 2012
In short: Massive improvement on 2011: but still a couple of a tweaks could be made?!!? In full: Lets start with the GOOD:
Course: VAST improvement on last year, yes there were a few lumps and bumps, but nothing major to write home about. Definite PB promise.
Marshals & Feed Stations: Great marshals, good distribution of water stations. Didn't take gels but nice touch, electrolytes at 8 miles were nasty!
Baggage: At the time I finished, baggage collection was very swift and efficient.
Tech Tee: Finally!!!! Could have had a better design, but tech much better than cotton.
IMPROVEMENTS: Toilets: You expect a queue and I didn't think they were excessive in the race village.
However, with 18k runners, why can't the starting pen area be runner only, with runner only toilets? Standing in a pen for 30 mins in the cold resulted in a pitstop at 3 miles, not good!
Goody Bag: No food? Come on!
Medal: Bit run of the mill
Overall moved from 3/10 last year to 8/10, this year, take on board the constructive criticism and we could reach 10/10 next year. Well done to the 2012 organizers. Please keep this course for next year and don't change again!!! Date of review: October 14, 2012
In short: OOOOFF!!!! Tough but worth it!!! In full: Signed up for this as a hill training race for SNOD and it didn't fall short on the hills!!! The course was lovely but the amount of rain in the week prior made it very boggy (knee deep) and very wet in places, very lucky not to lose a shoe at around 5 miles! A dead lamb and the ongoing pheasant shoot also made for extra quirks along the way! The hills were either long or steep or both, however the downs were on the whole runnable without too much of a problem. I would agree with the need for extra water stations on the 16 miler, had a few issues with cramp in the last couple of miles, as it was a pretty sunny day. However, I did know that there were only 3, so could have not been lazy and carried my own. The signs and marshals were on the whole great, however a 4x4 had parked in front of the gate obscuring the sign indicating we needed to go through the gate so nearly took a wrong turn, fortunately the guy behind had run before so knew where to go. Great camaraderie from the rest of the runners, made for a fab Saturday morning jaunt.
Special mention for the medal, I do like a medal, and these are really quirky and unique and a different one for the different distances, Fab!!! Date of review: October 10, 2012
In short: Fab Inaugural event in the Forest of Dean In full: First autumn event for these guys and all in all the organisation was very good, enough toilets, chip timed which is unusual for a trail race, well manned water station and smiley marshals.
Course was all on large hard packed trails. I didn't think it was too hilly, all perfectly runnable. Lovely section round mallards pike in the second half.
Nice medal, big bottle of lucozade and water at the end and a prize of a technical Tee for coming 4th lady, smiles all round!!
Will definitely consider it again next year, shame their spring event coincides with SD20 which is a mustdo on my Spring marathon training plan. Date of review: October 10, 2012
In short: Serious PB Potential In full: Probably the most beautiful half marathon in the UK. The views of the lake and the small waterfalls dropping into the lake were gorgeous.
Small steady incline up to the dam in the first mile, not that noticeable really and super speedy when you come back through from mile 12-13. The route is all on roads lined by trees on the first half so totally shaded, a little more exposed on the second half. If its sunny this could cost you. Nice touch was having water in bottles at the three water stops. I had a cracking race and will definitely be back next year to see if I can PB, as the course is almost as flat as you can get between miles 1 and 12.
The only thing that can be improved is the start. I believe chip timing would take away 90% of the issues at the start because regardless of whether your running 1:20 or 2:20, there will always be some people who aren't prepared to have time added on by having to wait to get to the line after the gun goes. Chip timing would take this away and I am sure most people would happily pay a few extra quid for chip timing. The expected finishing times should be high up on the fence so that short people can see them when the start area is full, I couldn't see where they were until my other half pointed them out. If chip timing was introduced a barrier could be placed down the lefthandside creating a very small walkway allowing people to get into their correct pens just before the start. This would make the start slightly narrower and slower but then as it would widen out as you crossed the line everyone would start to flow straight onto the course but this system would only be an advantage with chip timing.
This is definitely a fantastic event, with great organisation, wonderful scenery and a real chance of bagging yourself a PB. I have scored this as elitey because there are a lot of very quick club runners, the atmosphere was great and everybody was very friendly, but if you are a beginner looking for a GNR Fun Run type event this may not be the one for you!!! Date of review: September 12, 2012
In short: Really Special Race!!! In full: I don't normally bother reviewing races twice unless they need a bit of constructive criticism to improve OR they are really special. This race is most certainly the latter.
Race the Train is one of those races that is a highlight of my running year. Had a real shocker this year, high hopes of beating the train (7 mins over last year) that hope went out of the window when the sun put in a very unwelcome appearance!!! I found the race a lot harder this year because of both the heat and the ground was a lot harder than last year. Consequently I didn't even manage to beat the second train this year, roll on 2013! However, forget beating it or not, the organisation is first class and unlike a previous review I found the information posted out and on the website to be very clear in every aspect. The crowd support is immense, the whole town gets out and supports every runner and that really makes this race special.
Yes its a challenge but I cannot recommend this race enough, if you haven't done it before sign up for 2013 you won't regret it! Date of review: August 26, 2012
In short: Great Training Run In full: Travelled from Cardiff to run the 30km as wanted a training run for the Snowdonia Marathon in October. We entered the week before but the organisers posted the pre-race info out asap which was appreciated. Sending the detailed race directions out before the race or loading them onto the website in the week beforehand would be useful. I carried them with me but found the signs on the course more than sufficient, made a small error across a field that cost a minute or two but that was it. The signs did run out a little bit in the last half mile through town however I read quite a few of the reviews beforehand so knew to expect this. Plus if you keep an eye out for the tower at the fire station and keep heading towards that you'll pick up a marshal.
The organisation was very smooth, decent shelter given the intermittent rain at the start. Seats to watch the end of the mens Olympic marathon what more could you ask for??? TOILET ROLL!!! Adequate number of portaloos but none had any toilet roll left before the 30km started, only small thing that let down the start/finish, rest was great.
The marshals were all very friendly, decent number of water stations and very well stocked checkpoints. The course itself was a real mixed bag, the scenery wasn't quite as glorious as I expected but I think I have been spoilt by some of the other trail races I have done. It was nice and its charm is that its quite unique not really run such a multiterrain event, parts were really pleasant, others a bit overgrown and isolated and others super busy with tourists. Hence multiterrain rather than trail is a more accurate description and its definitely a road shoe run.
All in all if its fits with my marathon plans next year I would give it a go as it supports a very worthy cause and is useful training run. Date of review: August 17, 2012
In short: Fantastic First Frome Half!!! In full: Hats off to the organisers this scores 11 out of 10 on every aspect!!
Lovely welcome from the registration ladies, excellent marshals throughout, epic support from the locals of Frome, real community spirited throughout.
With the exception of the slight delay at the start, the organisers were forward thinking enough to supply enough water for a very hot July day. Yes an 11am start maybe a bit late, however the number of water stations and sponge stations with bottled water certainly made up for it and the heat didn't hugely affect my time. The course is pretty hilly, with a nasty climb at 10 miles and then a cheeky speedy steep descent into Frome town centre only to turn the corner and run back up the other side, now a steep ascent! One thing I didn't particularly like was a short climb to the finish line didn't make for a great sprint finish. However, on crossing the line a medal was placed around my neck, a bottle of water placed into one hand, a goody bag into another and my result was available within 30 secs of crossing the line, all topped off with a big 'Thank you' from the race team for running. I would like to say a big Thank you to Frome Running Club for organising, Sterling Effort.
Excellent job all round, will definitely be back next year, kicked my Snowdonia Marathon training off a treat. Date of review: July 23, 2012
In short: Excellent Inaugural Event In full: Low key event for a Sunday morning training run, but ticked all the right boxes: decent toilets, ample free parking, refreshments for all, slick registration and great marshals.
Course is 3 miles uphill, 1 mile on the flat, and then 2 miles back down to the finish. On paper that sounds really tough, but the uphills were all runnable with a few flatter sections interspersed to give the quads a bit of a break. I personally would not recommend road shoes for this if you have weak ankles/core as a lot of the course is on very stony tracks with a lot of rocky outcrops. There is also a steep downhill gulley covered with loose rocks that was 'interesting' in road shoes. However, the final 400m is pure speed, I felt like Iwan Thomas sprinting for the line!!!
Great job Pontypridd Roadents will definitely be back next year. Date of review: July 1, 2012