In short: Great off road race, quite hilly In full: Enjoyable race mostly on towpaths, cycle tracks and trails. Certainly more cross country than road - so muddy and a fair few hills. Friendly and helpful marshals. Banana, snack and drinks at the end, also food and drinks available to buy too. Good location although we did have trouble finding the right car park as couldn't see any marshals in the car park. Good value local race, will do this again. Date of review: November 30, 2012
In short: Great fast route and excellent venue - but that wind!! In full: Really enjoyed this race, firts time I'd done this. Normally wouldn't travel this far (100 miles) but I have family in Norwich so combined it with a visit.
Great venue with good facilities - large covered areas to shelter from the wind, baggage, large changing areas, food, showers.
The route is 2 laps from the showground, through countryside and neighbourhoods and small villages. Doesn't go into the city at all and is about 6 or 7 miles out of the city.
Good crowd support in the villages and excellent when you went through the showground for the 2nd lap and big crowds at the finish. Roads were fairly quiet though with few spectators in some areas. Really helpful and encouraging marshals.
The route is quite flat so good for a PB, but this year there was very strong wind so made for quite slow progress! Running into wind for several miles (and again on the second lap) does sap energy! No headphones allowed for safety.
Awesome medal, very unusual, and great goodie bag (in a real canvas bag) with plenty of post-race food and snacks.
If my brother is still in Norwich next year I'll be back for 2013. Date of review: November 26, 2012
In short: Brilliantly organised race In full: Really enjoyed this race even though it was the worst conditions I've raced in! Very wet and cold, but hey, it's November in the UK. A mostly flat course with just the underpasses to mix things up a bit so good for a PB. You do 2 laps of the course through Fairlands Valley park twice which is a nice scenic area to run in. Great organisation and the marshals were very encouraging. Good facilities with changing rooms and showers and I did not have to wait at all for loos or baggage. Only slight gripe was the long wait for a coach with enough spaces on it to take us from the car park to the start - it was very cold and wet waiting around and meant my feet were wet before I'd even started the race! I really love the medal too. Thanks FVS running club!
In short: Great route but disorganised and expensive In full: This is for the 2012 race on 28/10/2012
Pros: The route it great - interesting and the crowds are fantastic. Of course they gathered most at the music stations but there were a plenty along the streets too. The music was OK - it was live this year and there were some ethnic drummers (sorry, don't know how to describe them more than this!), not just hip hop and dance this year - although you only hear them for a minute or so! Mind you I took my iPod as the distance between music stations was a good mile or so. Good, friendly marshals along the course. I take my hats off to the team and marshals for putting up with such a difficult job and trying to be as helpful as possible given the chaotic situation! Sorry to the one I accidently threw my cup of water at!! The course is undulating with some hills but I got a PB on this so there is potential! No tube/transport issues this time and good weather – not planned by RTTB but a bonus compared to the last few year’s reviews! Getting too/from the O2 was fine – no worse than any other busy period. I liked my race tee-shirt a lot – very comfy and fine for autumn running – it will get plenty of use in the future. Sadly I could not wear my charity vest though as the number is printed on the race shirt – I saved the charity top for the journey home instead and will wear it on training runs. If you really wanted to wear your own or charity top you could queue for a traditional number bib instead on the day, but the queue for that was far too long.
Cons: Hmm where to start...! Way too overcrowded - just a sea of people before the start, signage was useless, no'one seems to know where to go. Queues were horrendous - if you want to do anything other than go to the loo and run to your pen then get there a good 2 hours early! I always felt either in a rush or lost. They seemed to have everything you’d expect from a big race in place (numbered pens, covered, secure baggage drop organised by race number, pacers, changing areas, but somehow it all seemed to be in vain. As above – if you wanted to wear your own top instead of the supplied t-shirt with the number, you needed to queue for a bib. I wouldn’t recommend that due to the long wait! If you really want to wear your own top, get there even earlier, or try to pin your charity top in a way to the race number is still visible. The race started at 9.45am and marshals kept yelling to people still in the baggage queue that they were going to be late! I was in such a rush I almost considered running with my backpack! Bottlenecks everywhere. With people from all finishing time-groups/pens getting to the pens late, I was starting the race 30 minutes after the official start with people from all finishing-time groups. Of course, it took ages to actually cross the line, so there was actually no point in rushing to drop the bags off! I missed getting anywhere near the pacer I hoped to follow (but got my target time anyway). For a price tag of £46 you would expect something decent at the end. I don’t do races just for the freebies, but after 13.1 miles you need something to eat and to keep warm and recover. I got a Powerade bottle , water and a medal at the end (nice medal by the way). But no food or goodie bag. Saved one year’s problem of people taking too many snacks I suppose. And there were no foil space blankets – which were vital on such a cold day. We were also given a silly design of timing chip which needed to be laced into the shoes (not the ones you fix with cable wire that can be easily snapped/pulled off after the race) creating more faffing at the end for runners who were too achy to bend down easily. The queue to retrieve baggage was chaos - there were about 10 queues for the different sections all muddled up and no tape/barriers to guide people into orderly lines. Plus we were very cold and shivering waiting all that time! Overall it was worth doing once for the good course, and the chance to do a big London race in front of massive crowds, but I’ll be giving it a miss next year to do the Great South Run instead. Date of review: October 29, 2012
In short: Friendly race, good support from spectators - but hilly! In full: A low way off a PB as it's very hilly - but still had a great time. The steep downhill at mile 2 is difficult to jog down, but nothing compared to coming back up it! Many of us powerwalked parts of it - jogging when the photographer appeared halfway up! A good sprint finish. Nice table laid out with chocolate, bisuits, jaffacakes and water at the end and a decent medal. Great crowd support at the end and through the villages (the kids were loving it) but most of the race was along quite quiet country roads. The water stops were quite frequent and provided in cups but they helped you fill up your own bottle if you bought one with you. The 2 mile fun run was quite poorly organised - the kids started just after the Half runners, but they caught up the runners and had to weave in and out. They turned back halfway so were running in the opposite direction for the rest which was a bit chaotic. The HQ was pretty good with onsite parking.
Thanks Canterbury Half Marathon - enjoyable day and worth the trip from Hertfordshire. Date of review: August 28, 2012
In short: Fun race, challenging but good atmosphere In full: Really enjoyed this as this is my local half marathon and had been meaning to enter for years. The route is quite hilly - very few flat stretches except through the residential areas but attractive. It crosses the M25 but this was quite fun as a lot of the cars beeped at us for support! The marshals were supportive and lots of families were out in their front lawns to cheer us on. The water was provided in cups, which might be annoying for some, but I prefer that since I carry my own drink anyway and just want a few sips of water along the way. Nice medal and you get a t-shirt and lolly too. There's a good runner's village with a number of stalls and marquees. The only problems were the tiny number of lavatories and parking. I live in St Albans and thought I was being "clever" by finding alternative areas to park, but these were full too. It took a long time to get out of the city centre (would have been faster for me to walk home!!). Quite a few warnings of doom for about people wearing headphones!! Overall I enjoyed the race and will be back next year - just won't be driving to the event. Date of review: July 21, 2012
In short: Great flat race, excellent organisation In full: Really enjoyed this race, well organised and for a city run it was mostly very nice scenery. All off road, although you run alongside several dual carriageways for parts of it - but the stretches alongside the lake and canal make up for it. Mostly very flat, just a few underpasses. You get a beautiful medal at the end, a banana, water and energy bar (they also offered an engraving service). The streets weren't exactly lined with spectators but there was some good support in the residential areas and friendly marshals. A little more expensive, but it's good to know that part of it goes to the charity! Will certainly be back for this one. Date of review: July 8, 2012