In short: Flat, fast, spectacular. If only the weather was nice, this would be perfectt. In full: This is an awesome flat 10-mile blast around some of the most picturesque areas of one of the best cities in Great Britain. You pass the world's first ironclad warship, Nelson's flagship HMS Victory, Charles Dickens's birthplace, views of the Spinnaker Tower and the Isle of Wight and get to see Europe's only scheduled hovercraft service. Even even you walk this race, you'll love it.
The course contains the perfect mix of a few bends, pancake-flat terrain and roads as broad as Cheri Blair's grin.
It was most unfortunate that the weather Gods delivered heavy rain and gusty winds today. Met reports show the headwind in the last two miles was 25mph, gusting to 45mph. It felt more like 70! Character-building stuff that, my lad!
Seriously, for all the hard work on that final stretch we were all entertained by the parallel run (in the opposite direction) with the big tailwind.
Portsmouth is an island with only two roads connecting it to the mainland, so not a lot anybody could do about getting all those cars out any faster. If anybody is to blame it is the company maintaining the railway network, who are months late with an upgrade and who closed all rail routes in and out all weekend.
My only gripe is the usual high price charged by the Great Run company. Still, their races fill up within a few weeks, so if people are willing to pay...
PS The "Portsmouth Mile", held the day before the GSR, is a great warm-up, although poorly advertised. Look out for it next year on the Portsmouth Council website. Date of review: October 28, 2007
In short: Portsmouth Joggers do like their hills! In full: Portsmouth is an island with no hills, so the boys and girls from the Portsmouth Joggers club head out to the South Downs for their races, and they do like the hills they find there!
There are no steep ascents or descents here (unlike the Stansted and Pub2Pub races!), but a few long (>0.5 mile) uphill drags seem to ebb away at PB potential.
Don't be scared - it's a great course with very little traffic and brilliant marshalling. The views are wonderful and the parking and facilities more than adequate.
Top marks to Portsmouth Joggers for another slick race, and for getting the results up on the website so fast.
I'll be back next year without question, and will get under 40-minutes despite the slopes! :-)
In short: The kind of course even Wile Coyote would set a PB! In full: Wonderful organisation, from the huge car park, through the copious facilities to the abundance of water-stations and wet-sponges.
The organisation here is up with the "big name" half-marathons such a Reading, Fleet, etc.
The fenland countryside is flat, but I would not say it's boring. There is more than enough here to keep you occupied for a couple of hours!
This is a perfect place to come for a PB-chasher - long flat stretches and almost no runner congestion.
In short: Friendly, quick and a great start to the weekend In full: A nice little 4-km course around the cycle paths of Bluewater. Although the shopping centre is visible, this route really takes you around the perimeter, with views of geese, swans, herons and more. It's a great little course.
The organisers are very friendly, and certainly extraordinarily encouraging. It's a shame that Adidas have pulled their sponsorship of the weekly event, and I hope this doesn't affect its future.
A real friendly bunch of runners here, no matter what your pace, and very welcoming of new people. The route is traffic-free and at that time clear of cyclists or pedestrians!
Results are all published on their website within days of the event.
Thoroughly recommended as a weekly yard-stick, or just turn up to enjoy a quick 4k burn!
One word of caution - make sure you don't arrive in need of the loo, as the shopping centre is thoroughly closed at 07:30am!!!
In short: Unusually, both laps felt more downhill than up! In full: Over 600 runners gathered in the historic town of Midhurst for this 10k. Some nice race-friendly weather (overcast and cool for August) helped to make this a quick race.
Starting from the town centre, we all headed along the A272 towards Petersfield, a quick steep uphill climb, then downhill all the way back to the start. Repeat once, and finish back in the town.
Despite starting and finishing at the same place (almost!), this race felt more downhill than up to me. The uphill bits are quickly dispensed with, and the majority of the lap is then a real speed-fest. The last 2km was a real blast - makes you feel like a real runner, approaching the crowds at breakneck speed!
Very well organised for so many people in quite a small town. Lots of (free) car-parking, a nice race HQ and some terrific souvenir t-shirts (for sale).
The Midhurst Milers and all their supporters should be rightfully proud of this one. It's a real gem, and I will be back again next year to enjoy all those downhill bits!
In short: This race series has a big reputation and yet still exceeds expectatitonns In full: My first Yateley 10k race was race 3 this year, and I enjoyed it so much I'll be back for the whole series next year. Need I say any more?
OK, I will... chip-timing allowed for a very-relaxed start-line (no bumping and griding to stand at the front), the t-shirts, mugs, bottles, medals and photos were all top-quality. The expedience of the results was incredible - available within just a couple of hours!
A good informal commentary before the start, and at the finish helped to keep the warm spirit going.
I really enjoyed the course which is not in the least hilly. It is constantly undulating, but in a a good way - I find teh mild variation in effort slightly easier than the constant fever of an entirely flat course. There was a few yards of watery bog near the start/finish line, but I hear the organisers are trying to fix that for 2008.
Two drink stations, and a sponge-station on a 10k? How cool is that?! I wish we could have had little bottles of water instead of those cups which are almost empty by the time you've grabbed them, but that didn't matter too much tonight on a fairly cool evening.
Loads of parking, easy to get to, super-friendly and efficient. I'm also chuffed with knocking 46 seconds off my PB tonight!
How could I not be back for the whole shebang next year?!
In short: Wonderful, friendly run on a summer evening In full: Organised by the BBC Running Club, but open to all, the race was 2.5 laps around the paths of Regent's Park.
The organising team worked hard to develop a good, accurate, route and their work paid off. Apart from a few long-hanging branches, the course was fast and flowed well. There were not too many dogs or ducks to steer around either!!
Despite being a humid evening, I was within a gnat's eyelash of a PB, so this course is no slouch. It has the best final-sprint of any course I have run.
What I'll remember most will be the friendliness and enthusiasm of the BBC Running Club guys. The organisers, and all the marshalls could not have been more welcoming. There were quite a few first-timers tonight, and hopefully their experience will keep them running.
Well done to the BBC - 10 out of 10! Date of review: July 20, 2007
In short: A midweek treat - flat, fast, friendly and fun. In full: Based around Raphael Park in Gidea Park, this midweek gathering was super.
The race was a perfect grass-roots event. On a nice sunny evening there was good humour among the runners, an enthusiastic organising team and a huge crew of marshalls and drink-station helpers.
This may have been only a 2.5-mile lap (run twice), but there were enough bends and changes of scenery (park, tennis courts, lake) to keep it interesting. The only piece I didn't like was the 100-metres of unsurfaced road along Gidea Close, but otherwise this was a great course.
For just a couple of quid, you'd be mad not to be here next summer!
In short: They said this race would be "tough". They weren't joking! In full: More ups and downs than the latest ride at Alton Towers, but still fast.
The route took in plenty of narrow country lanes, with a lot of tree cover - useful today with the hot afternoon sun. The drink station was well-staffed with lots of supplies, and some friendly people cooling the runners with water spray too (thank you!).
Aside from the near-guarantee of a PB(!), what makes this race so special is the village-fete atmosphere. It's wonderful to be involved in such a traditional "English" event, with cream teas, Punch & Judy show, cakes from the WI, etc.
Huge kudos to the South London Harriers, and the organisers of the Chipstead Flower Show. Today was about so much more than just a flat-out race. It was a fun day out, and thoroughly appreciated.
In short: You'd be bananas not to enjoy it! In full: This is a fun-run, and with that in mind, it could hardly be better.
The start, with Gavin Esler and his eloquent daughter introducing the charity runner, really set the scene for the run. It was kinda cool to see the bananas head-off, and then it was our chance to try and catch them.
A bright sunny day, in the immaculate confines of Regent's Park, this was the perfect home for a fun day out and to support the wonderful work of Leukemia Research.
Huge kudos should go to all the water stations, the free bananas (real ones!) and milk-shakes. These were richly appreciated.
Only two minor issues for me: 1. The medal - rather cheap for such a mass-participation event. I'd be happy to pay an extra 50p to enter, if that meant a nice medal. 2. The pace of the bananas wasn't well distributed. Everybody beat banana 10, while only the winner beat banana 1. It would be better (as others have said) if all the bananas headed off 5 minutes before the mass-start, all with a target pace to acheive.
To treat it as a "serious" race was to miss the point. There are a lot of bends, and on a sunny Sunday morning the park was packed with dogs (off their leads!), push-chairs, kids (off their leads!!!), etc. The km markers were somewhat inaccurately placed, and I am not sure the course distance was officially certified.
However, none of this affects the great time had by all. We all got chip-timing and individual photos up on the web within 24 hours of the race. All good fun! Date of review: July 9, 2007