In short: More races should be like this In full: Loved the scenery, loved the terrain, loved the tough but achievable challenge. I run a lot of road races and although the crowds are great etc etc at those events, I just loved being set free in the forest. I especially enjoyed it when it got a bit wet and muddy. This is what trail running is all about. It was hot but the trees helped shield from the sun and the start time was sensibly early. Also the marshals were very good. The only gripe I have is that the official time seems to be the race time rather than the chip time. I started at the back and my watch had me running two minutes quicker than what it said on the website. Usually events have both a 'race time' and a 'chip time' but not here. Has anyone else noticed this? If you aren't going to publish chip times then why have chips? Date of review: June 9, 2014
In short: Great homecoming, very fast race, but was it 13.1 miles? In full: Have been looking forward to this for a long time. As an experienced half marathon runner originally from Bristol I couldn't wait to ply my 'trade' in my hometown. The plan was a pb as the course is flat and the weather turned out to be good for running. I can't really complain about anything with the organisation and the course (perhaps the hefty price was the reason the race didn't sell out). My only gripe - and this may be down to my technology - was that according to my Garmin I ran 13.27 miles. I missed my pb by 58 seconds but as I got to 13.1 on my Garmin I had nailed my best ever time. Throughout the race up to around 9 miles my Garmin was roughly tallying with the race mile markers, but for some reason when I got to 10 it was way out and it took me a couple more minutes to get to the 10 marker. I subsequently felt a little flat when I crossed the line, having believed for most of the race I was at long last going to get my pb. As I said it may just be me and my inferior technology (plus some inevitable weaving on the road) but it'd be interesting to see if anyone else using GPS experienced the same issues. Date of review: September 17, 2013
In short: Quite challenging and very scenic In full: This was a tough course, especially in the hot weather (although considering some of the scorching temperatures this year we were lucky really) but I'm surprised some people on here found the elevation surprising. Firstly on Runner's World it was described as 'undulating' rather than 'flat' (always a good clue that it won't be a pb course). Secondly on the race website there is a detailed course map with the total elevation marked in the bottom left so the hills weren't a surprise for anyone who had looked at the course (I've been caught out too many times by not looking in the past!).
I do agree with some of the other comments here. There was a bit of confusion at the water stations. I was handed an empty cup at the first one and because I didn't want to stop I went without until six miles when I was pretty parched in the heat.
I too thought it may incorporate the castle at least a bit (seeing as it's called the Kimbolton 'Castle' half marathon) but the scenery was beautiful none-the same. If you want crowds throughout the route you need to run in cities - it's really one or the other with these events. Huge supportive crowds in built up areas or quiet beauty in the countryside.
The toilet situation was a bit annoying but to be fair most new events get this wrong in the first year. We all need to go in the half hour before the race so make sure there are enough loos.
I thought the threat of disqualification for littering was a bit silly. Most runners are decent people who care about their surroundings. We don't need to be threatened to do the decent thing. But it would have helped if the bins were indeed a bit further along to enable us to drink some water first.
One further gripe - and this is maybe just a personal thing - but there was no date on the medal or the ribbon. It's nice to remember when the race took place.
All in all though an enjoyable day out. The challenging nature of the course and the weather made it all the more satisfactory when I completed it. And the marshals, announcer etc were all helpful. We knew beforehand that the roads were not going to be closed so I think runners have to take it upon themselves to be vigilant. Also, great value for money and decent parking, which is far from guaranteed these days. Good luck next year. Date of review: August 19, 2013
In short: Surprisingly pretty and well organised In full: Really enjoyed this race. Despite being in a largish city there was plenty of parking, no extreme queues at the toilets, and easy to understand directions. The weather was glorious which helped make the views and the scenery look really pretty and the terrain was challenging but didn't impede anyone who had trained hard and was looking for a good time. The only slight gripe I had was I wore off-road trainers as the pre-race notes suggested it would be a mud bath and there would be lots of off-road running. In fact the vast majority was on concrete and the off-road bits would have easily been dealt with in my normal trainers. However this was a small issue that (only) I had so no real complaints. Date of review: February 21, 2013
In short: Awesomely tough but very satisfying In full: The warnings of how tough this course is are made clear way before you get to the start line, but the hills here really are lung-busters. I pride myself on running (rather than walking) no matter how bad I feel during a half, but I felt no shame in having to walk during some of this event. The race had added spice this year because of all the horrendous weather we've had but in a way that made it even more enjoyable. All the enormous puddles and the crazy mud meant there was plenty to focus on and you almost forgot about the enormity of the challenge. Thankfully it was nice weather while we were actually running which was merciful. The marshals were great, as has been said, and the beer at the end was a nice touch. Would love to come back after a bit of proper hill training and beat my time next year... Date of review: November 28, 2012
In short: Good event but be careful of the heat In full: It's a half marathon in July so you can't blame the set-up for the heat. If you don't like running in hot weather then don't enter. I enjoyed the challenge and the course itself was surprisingly rural (surprising considering my preconceptions that is). The atmosphere was great (more people come out in the summer) and it was over early enough to get back home, have a big lunch and then sit back and enjoy the World Cup Final. Date of review: November 19, 2012
In short: Hard work but satisfactory In full: It's hard to rate this because the weather was the overwhelming factor. The wind tunnel and driving rain created a real challenge but it was great to overcome it. Felt like an iron man at the end! Date of review: November 19, 2012
In short: Really nice for a first race In full: My first ever half and one I hold dearly. It's a very cold time of year to run but you feel warm inside when you complete it. Crowds were great considering the temperature. Certainly a good one for beginners - I've been running ever since! Date of review: November 19, 2012
In short: Great race and brilliant finish In full: One of my first half marathons and still one of my favourites. I lived in Reading at the time so the roads were all familiar. Reading isn't too exciting but the course makes the best of the town and the finish in the Madejski Stadium is spectacular. I don't understand people complaining that they were "always on a slight incline". That's physically impossible in a race which starts and finishes in the same place. Besides hills are a part of running. If you aren't pushing yourself a bit there's no point.. Date of review: November 19, 2012
In short: Busy but fun. One of the best large half marathons I've ran. In full: Despite the crowds it was one of the quickest half marathon times I've recorded. Great crowds, great scenery and - despite the volume of people - well organised. It's only when you go to a large event that is shambolic that you appreciate when one is well run. You'll always have waiting time at the bigger events but this was kept down to a minimum here. Date of review: November 19, 2012