In short: Year 2 and it got better In full: So after last year's unseasonal heatwave which made this race pretty tough we got the usual cool damp and foggy for 2012 event. Organisation great. Chip collection fine (although I never see point in posting number if you still need to collect chip). Giving out t-shirts before race can also be a pain if you don't want to bag-drop. Loads of toilets.
This race is an unusual road half marathon. Firstly it is almost entirely run on small rural single track roads through Hampshire farmland. Secondly, it is pretty hilly. In fact, most of the first 4 miles is on an incline. The first big hill really is quite a touch climb but is followed with loads of downhill. A few more smaller climbs but it is deceptive and the last 3 miles downhill make this a pretty fast course, definitely some PB potential here.
Support from the marshals was excellent as was the turnout in the small villages around the course. Little disappointing that the crowds in the Memorial Park for the finish were much thinner than at the inaugural event. I would also still prefer that strange sharp turn onto the (long) wet grass finish straight to get changed.
Water stations were much better located this year and more frequent.
For some reason the race number was huge and also made of a very odd thick paper. As such I folded it down to wear for comfort. Just when I got over the line, I really didn't appreciate some old guy telling me that if I did the same next year, I would be disqualified. There is a time and a place and I don't need that immediately after 90+ minutes running and before I even get my medal.
One other point, I did feel sorry for the Kenyans at the start line. They were late and were trying to climb over the fence at The Lamb in Hackwood Road to get to the front. This big bloke came around shouting at them (bar staff or landlord I guess) as he didn't want a damaged fence. He then got pretty nasty and I thought he was going to attack a chap that was with them. Not very nice at all and many runners commented on how they'd avoid that pub!
This is a really good event for Basingstoke and the course is excellent. Hope is stays now. Date of review: October 8, 2012
In short: Splendid race, even in the relentless pouring rain In full: We can all moan about the rain but nobody can control that. Besides at 11 degrees C it was excellent for running - much easier that in the sunshine. Once you're wet, you're wet. Big turnout besides. Anyway, this race continues to be a favourite. Pretty low-key but excellent marshalling. Loads of water stations. Very scenic. A few sections of track runs plus the undulations keep your legs working. I ran chatting with someone for 18 or so miles so it all went quite quickly. Has some good support in places (even in the pouring rain) and the marshals really were cheery and supportive despite being totally sodden.
An excellent event. Great fun Date of review: September 24, 2012
In short: Terrific off-roader with wonderful coastal views In full: I haven't run the Beast for 4 years but it remains truly excellent. Lots of different terrain: tarmac start, open fields, stony woodland paths and coastal footpaths. Some decent hills inland but when you get to the coastal path it really hits. St Aldhelm's Head is where we joined it. Straight down some very steep, very slippery stone and earth steps and then back up. Heavy step climbing. Then you get to go to another valley/chine before climbing an even higher one. It really takes it out of you. The final few miles involve a mostly-downhill trip back to Corfe with the castle in view, then a nice hill up near the end.
The rain and wind made it tougher this year and much more treacherous under foot.
One negative comment was regarding the women at the finish line taking down finisher details. She was incredibly rude to numerous spectators telling them to be quiet or move away from her so she could hear. At one point she shouted at one group to "shut up". A bit out of character for this race.
Aside from that, this event is excellent in a great location with spectacular scenery. The organisation continues to be excellent. This is one to try for sure. Date of review: September 3, 2012
In short: 2012 Half - Brutal hills, brutal!!! In full: It's been a few years since I ran this one and the new course is much, much, much tougher. It still includes many of the old hills but also a lot more. This really was tough road-running from the start right until the end. Aside from the one mile on the flat by the sea before climbing into St Helen's, this is a constant up and down course. The last two hills coming into Ryde are hard work.
The start was very low-key, perhaps too much with cars driving through the start line until 2 mins before kick-off. No announcements, no sign of anyone - just a hooter and off you go straight up a 1.5m incline!
I do like these IoW runs but I always think it is a bit of a shame so much time is spent running on roads in the middle of the island - busy roads at this time of the year too. Water stations are bare minimum - water. Orange squash would have been great.
Will be back to seek revenge. Date of review: August 20, 2012
In short: Well organised event In full: Decent parking and facilities at start. There is a wide start on a field - but be aware that it narrows down quickly and you may get slowed by walkers on the first big hill. This is a big hill for a mile 1 but was surprised how many walked it. Rest of the course makes for a pleasant run. Would definitely go back to this one. Date of review: August 13, 2012
In short: Continues to be excellent. 42k In full: These firefighters know how to organise a good running event. Haven’t run the 54321 since 2009 but it is still excellent. Pre-race organisation at the fire station is exceptionally smooth. Start well organised. Beautiful course. There is quite a lot on the road/hard track and I was glad I hadn’t bothered with my trail shoes (although I did start to wonder on the slippery clay by Old Sarum near the start). The 42k course is pretty challenging. Fairly undulating for the first 20 miles with a big big climb around 19ish. The last 6 are downhill or flat which makes for a fast finish if your legs are still up to it. Great last 2 through the city centre passing the cathedral and the tourists (who looked a bit bewildered). Feed stations were well stocked and got better as you went around. Water, orange/lemon squash, biscuits, bananas, jelly babies and oranges. I must give special mention about the fruit cake – moist and delicious like last time! Couldn’t disagree more about another runner’s comments about other participants not being friendly – I had a few chats with different people around the course. Seemed pretty social to me. This really is a great event with a nice finish with a decent party atmosphere. Easy parking, easy leaving. I would ask for some marshalling in the city centre and on the river path where we had to cross roads – gets a bit harder when you’ve been running for 4 hours plus! Date of review: August 13, 2012
In short: Great race in a great location In full: This continues to be one of the best road half marathons I run. The course is a great undulating rural road course - it really is challenging with a couple of big long climbs but also a great downhill 1m at the end before a flat 0.5m. There are always loads of refreshment vans. The ice lolly is a must and I always look forward to it. They're quite generous at St Albans with a t-shirt, medal, lolly and bottle of lucazade sport! The guys on the PA always do a good job on the lead-up to the races and the kids event is great too. This year, there were a lot more runners and there was neither satisfactory parking or toilet facilities - needs to be looked at. My only other moan this morning would be that I and 20+ other runners seem to have been 'on course' when looking at the result but don't have a time or official place - I promise I didn't take any short cuts! Date of review: June 11, 2012
In short: Great rural road race with lots of ups and downs In full: A good little event this. Nice rural course with little traffic to contend with except on one very short stretch. It is continuously up and down so don't fly off at the start. The start has moved since the last time and so had the parking but it seemed to work ok. Refreshments laid on my the scouts but this whole affair is pretty low-key but good. Date of review: June 11, 2012
In short: Lovely scenic course, great organisation In full: As this event occurs at the same time as multiple walking and cycling events (with up to 2,000 participants), the facilities en-route are excellent. Lots of water stations and many toilets.
The first 12 miles or so from Avebury are very scenic footpaths undulating in the Wiltshire hills. The second half hits a hard track on the edge of the military Salisbury plain. Very firm under foot. It makes for quite a fast second half and expect a negative split.
Finish was also very well organised just north of Stonehenge. A great event and well worth the trip. Date of review: May 8, 2012
In short: Inaugural events often have issues. Let's try this one again In full: The clues were in the pre-race set-up. A cool looking website that was actually poor when you tried to get information from it (the race route map was pitiful). Multiple emails sent with zero response (best route via Facebook). Failure to send out numbers and chips by post. Total lack of local knowledge that the event was taking place. However, the event on the day was ok for me but not great:
Positives: fast course, few hills, great crowd support at end, parts of Hessle Road and near the Humber Bridge. Excellent viewing for spectators as you can move point to point easily.
Negatives: 8am start(!), collecting numbers, NO MILE MARKERS (criminal - happy I had GPS), dull industrial estate sections, ridiculous out and back at dock on narrow path (the spiral!!!!)
Basically, there are numerous improvements to be made but this could still be a good event.
On the overall distance, my Garmin has 25.99. Normally it tends to measure higher than 26.2. I think the course was short but will pretend it wasn't as otherwise my time is even crapper! Date of review: April 13, 2012