In short: One of the toughest hill workouts you'll get in Kent. In full: Phew! I completed my night shift and dashed down from Gravesend to get to the venue. Start time was incorrect online. Certainly a specialist event - mate of mine (Mike) dropped a trouser load when he saw the search and rescue units and the hills. 4 of us entered the 8.6 miler. The route is BRILL and in better weather it would have been stunning beyond words. Paths were slippy and the steps did the legs no favours. Weather was drizzle, wind was fresh. The hills really tested the quads and I took two days to recover enough to do a "recovery" run. The ONLY issue I would have - and I am only bringing this up because it effected Mike (not me) was that at the crucial distance peal off points (8.6 - 14 - 20) there was a lack of communication. Mike found himself commited to the 14 mile event when he wasn't told where to peal off for the 8.6. In our worry for him, after we completed our distances, me and 2 other mates back tracked and encountered two other runners who had fallen foul of the same issue, discovered the error, and turned back to rejoin the 8.6 route. As it was, Mike (God bless him) continued on the 14 and eventually completed his greatest ever distance of 15.6. My suggestion would be to have arrows made out of the highviz colours and attribute a different colour to each distance. This would enable runners to self navigate if they miss an instruction. I was happy with the free BHF Benny hat and medal. The venue facilities were perfectly adequate. Could have had faster tea / food making (but this was an added luxuary anyhow. The marshals were great (good idea taking runners numbers down cos this helped us track where Mike was! and prevented corner cutting). Thanks go to S+R who helped locate Mike. The organisers were everso friendly and welcomming. The S.E.S runners aim to be back next year to do the greater distances - Dave says he has to do the 20 because Mike has gone further than him now! Boy - did I need my sleep after getting back home SO VERY LATE owing to Mikes error. Date of review: March 9, 2012
In short: 2nd time for me - recovery run after HellRunner. Good marshals. In full: True to form the organisers said this would be a free entry for those last year who discovered that the distance was short. This time there was no such problem and the distance was bang on. I would say that the marshals were great - full of support and cheer - seeing as it was such a cold morning. The S.E.S Runners were out in force today and our latest member came in with a PB, doing nearly twice the distance he'd ever run in one go! The route is nothing to write home about (perhaps a route through the park could be considered in future??). Good value for money (I made a donation), good facilities and certainly a course that in future I'd like to push out and get a PB on (if I'm not recovering from another event). S.E.S Runners do their home town race, and all of us came over the line. Thanks. Date of review: February 14, 2012
In short: Not as tough as I thought it would be. Fun all the same In full: Having done Down South twice, and getting a medal for the last one (2011), I decided that I'd do all three. I was the 2nd mankini man and was running with a group of friends. Twas cold. I knew there would be some hills and found them okay, needing special powers of balance to go down the slopes. The bog of doom was shorter and shallower that down south BUT WOW was it colder. I managed to get a duck though. The marshals were TOP DRAW, full of support. It was sad to see so many people injured but how good was the medical help and first aid? I was most impressed. The only little nag I have was the medal, T-shirt and goodie bag collection. Waiting in that zig-zag line was SO VERY VERY COLD. It would have been better if we could have gone in a line, through the tent and collected as we went. I was led to believe that there was a special prize for dressing in a mankini and for getting a duck but I didn't see anything indicating such - perhaps I missed it. Thanks to the organisers. I will be doing Up North so as to get all 3 medals. Date of review: February 14, 2012
In short: 2010 was "The Hardest Ever" 'cos of the weather, 2011 was shorter and easier. In full: After last year, I suppose there wasn't the "surprise or shock factor", and as the weather was pleasant this time, there wasn't so much of a challenge. My Garmin measured it shorter too and the bog of doom was somewhat shallower. Bottlenecks were inevitable. Aside of this I will certainly rate the organisation and atmosphere as FANTASTIC. The marshals / cadets were full of support and the supporters were full of cheer.
I decided to do it in a lime green mankini, to up my own personal challenge - it got plenty of reaction (and a few slaps! You know who you are). All I could hear behind me was "Oh God - I gota get past him".
Parking was very good, however, getting away was slow. If we were to do it again, we'd bring a BBQ and do a cook up in the carpark whilst everybody else waits to leave. Perhaps we'll do Hell In The Middle for a change.
The best thing was a quality medal and T-shirt at the end. Happy with the goodie bag as well. Thanks to everyone involved. I am still applying the chafing cream! Date of review: November 28, 2011
In short: LOVE IT - one of my favs. Great marshals In full: I love his race. It's in my dairy every year. Challenging. Fun. Support. Organisation. All top draw. Weather held off and the terrain was just right, gave the legs a work out. Got a PB on this run. THANK YOU all who organised it. The SES will be back again. Such a nice gong too. Date of review: October 9, 2011
In short: Good ol' trek thru the woods, hills hurt a bit, better if we got a medal. In full: 2nd time for me doing this event. I just finished a night shift and I was knackered to start with but the weather was warm and sunny and the atmosphere lifted me up. Ran with two mates from the SES Runners. Better start this year, got off to a fast one. The woods are wonderful to run thru, with helpful cheery marshals indicating the way. This area was my boyhood playground so fond memories flooded back. The hills slowed me down a tadd but I didn't walk. Just couldn't keep up with Connor who had it on the hills, but I kept him in sight all the way round. The water station was well placed, spectators full of support and encouragement (thanks). The 2nd time round is something you dread, knowing that hill is there. The finish straight feels longer than it actually is and is a gradual incline that makes a sprint finish hurt. I came in just under 50 mins and I was happy with that. Better time than last year. Organisation was very good, so well done. I know it's a pain but I'd be happy to pay a couple of quid more to get a medal. Bacon sarnies back at Mikes and then home to bed before nights again. Date of review: September 25, 2011
In short: Ups and Downs (Get it? DOWNS!) Such a lovely course. In full: After 3 weeks off (holiday) I was dreading my first proper run - and this was it. Great start venue, adequate facilities, welcoming. Weather was just right. Great value for money as it was only £10 on the day. Cannon start, once round the pitch then off into the woods. The decent off the Downs in the first mile is just a glimpse of what the accent would be at the half way mark. Headlong down hill, loose flint, ruts, hedges, flailing arms (fun). BEAUTIFUL views whilst on the Pilgrims Way. Nasty, nasty accent (had to walk that). Cool, shady woods, plenty enough muddy puddles. Bit of green lane work as well (rutted by 4x4 activity). Marshals were great, giving directions, support and warnings. Well sign posted and yellow marked hazards. Water station was perfectly located too. Tannoy announcements when people approached and crossed the lines. Great goodie bag with water, fruit, chocolate and voucher. Medal is different so a good one for the collection. Before and after massage available. WELL DONE VIGO. This will be an event I will visit again and again. Thanks Date of review: August 29, 2011
In short: Grrr! Makes you work hard. You will know if you've trained for this one. In full: All time favourite for me - must be the 7th time I've done it. Much better medal now (used to be horse brass). The route is nasty in places (I forgot about the Gills Road hill), and the dreaded "Gore Hill" is a real tester of the legs. Weather was quite warm which brings the pains on. Have to say that the organisation was very good, marshals were top draw. Support from local residents was nice. I got my 2nd best time (1hr47) and still didn't get a goodie bag, so I was a tad disappointed. Have to say that the bloke doing the commentating at the end left a little to be desired - certainly didn't get the crowds motivated for finishers. All in all, I love this event as it's my local 1/2 and it's a brute which keeps me on my toes (pun). There is no getting away with being unfit 'cos it'll show. Thanks Dartford. Date of review: July 27, 2011
In short: Fab atmosphere, very friendly staff, hard course, well run event (medal too) In full: Did not know what to expect so was chuffed to find a field full of entertainment (bouncy castle / music / food / ice cream van) and warm up "baby"!! you had to be there! Very funny pre race warm up. Loads of kids events too. The staff were full of support and encouragement. It was a hot morning, and I'd just come off a 10 hour night shift so I was feeling a bit jaded. Even so, the SES Runners made their appearance (4 of us). The course was a good mix of fields and woods and a little road work, with some tough hills - if you go down 'em, you is gunna have to go up 'em). Bit of a bottleneck at the gate to get out of the field, and due to the narrow nature of the footpaths, passing was a problem. The styles and gates made for some interesting footwork.
Found that I was getting embarrassed when crossing the roads as there appeared to be some long vehicle queues and I did shout out my thanks to drivers but inevitably there were some grumpy souls. The marshals did well and were full of support and encouragement. High Elms proved leg sapping but the water stations were placed well. This course doesn't lend itself to PB potential but sure makes you work for your medal.
I appreciate that for a £10, getting a medal and your number sent to your address is good value, but perhaps some fruit at the end (from a local greengrocer (free advertising) could be a good idea)). All in all an event I would do again. I would not do a night shift before, I would bring the family - get the kids doing their races, do mine and then have a picnic after.
Thanks to all the Orpington Runners and helpers. Date of review: July 4, 2011
In short: Well organised, friendly, PB potential, happy organisers. In full: In my quest for MORE medals than my friends, I did the trick of keeping my intentions quiet and applying on the day. My 12 yr old son, inspired by an 8 yr old at the Harvel 5, said he wanted to do one - so we picked this one (we brought his mate too). Staff were happy if I stayed with them. Late entry no problem. Weather cool, wet. Planning was very good (despite the old guy doing the start failing to work the megaphone). Route was very pleasant - round the park, through the woods (twice). Not too challenging for me. Marshals were very encouraging (especially the female marshall in the woods towards my son - I think it must have been because of his blonde curly locks that caught her eye!!). I stayed at the boys pace and gave them tips all the way. They didn't stop and came in at a bril time of 44 minutes - one of the boys getting a spot prize too. Bedraggled but chuffed with their medals, I think my son might have caught the running bug! Thanks to the organisers and marshals and spectators on what would have been a wet cold morning for them. Date of review: June 14, 2011