In short: Wonderful value, pretty countryside and some hills! In full: Everybody tackling this race afresh would be well served to pay attention to race organiser Chris Bellwood's advice: "A word of caution for the super fast runners – this course is not flat ! ... There are three inclines, two of which are quite extreme."
The course seems to climb for 7km, then free-fall down for 2km, then uphill again. But, we all knew that thanks to the detailed website with course map and elevation profile - nice touch for a small race.
The race is a challenge, and you know you've done well when you finish. Even better though is the slick organisation - no queues for the toilets, just a few seconds to collect your race pack and free t-shirt, short walk to the start (marshalled well to get eveybody in predicted finishing-time sequence), lots of locals out cheering on, hog-roast, a bar, cheap tea & coffee, two water stations, free water & fresh fruit at the end, etc, etc.
Special thanks to all the local volunteers, who all smiled and cheerfully helped out in the race HQ, etc.
What impressed me most was the value-for-money. For just a tenner you get a smartly designed brand-name t-shirt (in a range of sizes), chip timing, free car-parking and the free fruit and water afterwards. You simply can't imagine how they can organise this event for so little entry fee. Top marks to the organisers for their hard work to make it all happen.
There were even t-shirts left over at the end, only three pounds fifty each. What a bargain!
Make sure you prepare for those relentless hills, then come and enjoy one of the best kept secrets in the south of England!
In short: Scenic run and a trip to the zoo. Super! In full: Yes, it's true, this is quite a hilly 10k! The website and the pre-race leaflet omit a route-map, now I know why! :-)
Having said that, I enjoyed it immensely. There is a few inclines, but the real work is done from 2k to 5k - a climb of around 250 feet. After all that work you get a couple of well-staffed water stations, and a blast downhill all the way back to the zoo.
I chipped another couple of minutes off my PB, down to 43 minutes, and many finished faster than me, so it's by no means a slow course.
Despite the big entry there was no shortage of toilets, marshalls, medals or encouragement. The morning's fun-run for kids was a nice idea, and the afternoon spent in the sunshine at the zoo was brilliant.
It does seem a little odd that the price of running is lower than the price of admitting each supporter, but the zoo has to bring in money to look after all those animals. I didn't begrudge them a penny.
My own version of the course map can be seen here: http://www.mapmyrun.com/run/united-kingdom/marwell/365427922
In short: Beautiful scenery and one of the fastest courses in Britain. Does it get any better? In full: This comment relates to the 2007 Easter Half-Marathon, run on Easter Monday.
The Guernsey Easter Runs consists of four runs over four days. Unfortunately I was only able to participate in the final event - the half-marathon.
Starting on the seafront in St Peter Port, the course winds its way along the eastern coast of Guernsey, past pretty harbours and picturesque historic maritime buildings. The bends are fast and sweeping and there's very little traffic.
Once out of the town the course seems to really pick up pace out in the rural north-east corner of the island. A quick loop around the L'Ancresse Common, and it's back the way you came to St Peter Port. With four or five drink stations, all staffed by happy volunteers, and handing out bottled water, refreshment was never a doubt.
The last couple of miles take you back along the St Peter Port seafront, with a long unbroken stretch from mile 11 to 12.5 to test those you started too fast!
The finish, on Albert Pier, can be seen with over half-a-mile to go, so it's easy to time the final sprint.
Everybody is announced as they cross the line, where there was huge volumes of bottled water available and a really classy race t-shirt.
This is a fast course - the new British under-20 female record was set today (congratulations to Steph Twell). The route also passes beautiful scenery, for those with a little more time on their hands than Steph!
I beat my PB by a minute and throughly enjoyed the friendly and ultra-efficient organisation. As a bonus, Guernsey is a great place to visit for a short break.
I cannot recommend this one highly enough. Date of review: April 11, 2007
In short: The perfect BIG-RACE practice if you're a London first-timer In full: The thing to remember about this race is that it's a BIG RACE. With almost 14,000 entrants everything has to be organised on a big scale.
From the slick website, through the comprehensive pre-race booklet, to the seamless car parking, this event is thoroughly professional and really slick.
The portaloos in the car parks was an act of genius, although when I arrived at the football stadium I was amazed to see so many more toilets - never have I seen so many in one place!
The baggage drop-off was admittedly a complete farce, but this was exacerbated by the chilly weather. If it were warm then people would have left their bags in their cars, or changed an hour or more before the race start. As it was, everybody wanted to stay in their warm clothes until the last minute. No excuses though, it should have been better organised with more tents and a clear entry/exit route.
I found the start to be very efficient, although sympathise with the people who, like me, were tripping over 10min-mile runners who started within spitting-distance of the start line.
I really didn't notice whether the scenery was wonderful - it was very changeable and always something different around you. I did find that there were an awful lot of twists and turns which can't help one's PB. There was a really strange bit through the University campus where the first water station was based!
A couple of short-sharp hills were nothing to fret about. Be prepared for the mile-long run along the dual-carriageway from mile 10 to 11. With no spectators and little shelter it is really boring, right at the time you want to up your pace.
Like many others, I was not a fan of the final loop from mile 11 to mile 13. Surely this two-miles can be found on some other roads in Reading somewhere? That out-and-back loop is a mental test!
Be warned - there is quite an incline up to the stadium, but then you dive steeply downhill onto the pitch and you almost throw yourself across the line for a great atmospheric finish.
This is a wonderful event with bags of atmosphere (and a great medal) which would be the perfect first-event for new starters. I think it is a MUST-DO event for first-time London Marathon runners, as it gives you the valuable experience of multiple drink stations (with Lucozade Sport), huge numbers of participants, chip timing, even queuing for the bag store (also a "feature" of London!).
If you like your runs quiet and rural with little fuss, then this is not the run for you.
If you like the "big event" or are preparing for London, this is a must. Date of review: March 26, 2007
In short: "Big Race" feel, perfect pre-London preparation In full: Loads of positives to this race: Chip timing, well organised start, plenty of toilets, well-stocked and well-staffed water stations, traffic-free course.
The (mostly suburban) scenery isn't too exciting, and the trudge through the mud to the start line is a bit annoying.
The course is gently undulating - no hills to speak of, but not a pure flat race either. There are a lot of twists and turns, so a PB isn't guaranteed.
It was unusually hot today, and I was glad of the four drink stations and the copious drinks in the post-race area.
Not a great race, but nothing wrong with this one at all. Date of review: March 11, 2007
In short: Great marshall support for two rural laps around Hampshire countryside In full: This is a good race - two ten-mile laps of an undulating course around little country lanes in north Hampshire. As the others have said, the runners were joined on the roads by hundreds of long earth worms(!)
The race is combined with a 10-miler, with simultaneous starts for both races. It's tempting to race the 10-mile folk, especially as they up the pace for their sprint to the finish. You need to be cautious - as they're enjoying their Mars bar and massage, you're heading out for that 10 miles all over again!
There was only one serious "hill" which did seem tougher on lap two. Otherwise it's just a few slightly undulating ups and downs.
The outstanding aspects of this race are: (1) Chip timing - with so many runners, this is really welcome (and results were on the website within a couple of hours of the finish!), and (2) the friendly marshalls who seemed to clap and say nice things to every runner - thank you guys!
A couple of words of warning though - make sure you get to the start EARLY. The parking is over a mile from the race HQ, and traffic is quite busy too. Allow at least 30 minutes extra. The toilets were also overwhelmed, so perpare for that. Also, the queue for the baggage store was huge, even a couple of minutes before the start. Maybe baggage tags should be sent out in advance, and a few small baggage tents instead of two big ones?
A nice souvenir towel and a goodie bag stuffed full of things was nice, as was the t-shirts and sweatshirts available at the end. Also a HUGE cup of tea for only fifty pence was a bonus! :-)
Definately recommended, but do make sure you arrive earlier than normal for this one.
In short: Flat, fast, scenic and very friendly. One of the best. In full: This one-way race from the gates of RAF Kinloss to the gates of RAF Lossiemouth is a cracker.
You meet up in Lossiemouth with free hot and cold drinks on-hand, then taken on a fleet of identical shiny buses to Kinloss. Fantastic facilities there with loads of changing rooms and an abundance of toilets.
The race leaves RAF Kinloss and heads out east along very straight roads with miminal traffic. There is one steep but very short incline at about mile 6, followed by a long stretch with amazing views of the sea to your left and the small farming villages to your right.
Three well-staffed water stations are provided along the course, which reaches its peak at mile 10, followed by a three-mile blast down into Lossiemouth.
Back at the Community Centre and there's free sandwiches, tea, coffee, dougnuts and minced pies!
This is a really FAST course at which I knocked almost ten minutes of my PB. The locals are extremely friendly and the atmosphere is very relaxed. A wonderful race, which I am really pleased I made the 1200-mile round-trip for. Date of review: February 19, 2007
In short: Splendid run over some hills on the L'Isle d'Blanc In full: To say this race is "undulating" would be like calling Osama Bin Laden a little troublesome! This is a serious course which starts as it means to go on - starting at sea level, you climb 50m to the first mile-marker, then back to sea level when you see "Mile 2". Mile 3 is up to 40m, Mile 4 back down again, etc etc. The hills aren't huge, but your cumulative vertical climb for the race is well over 200m.
I found the hills to actually be a nice challenge though - just the right distance to push hard without being too tiresome. Just watch for that climb after the 8 mile mark - that's the one you really notice! You're rewarded with a fast charge back to the finish, with terrific views of the Solent, sandy beaches and the South Downs on the mainland.
This is a great race which I'd highly recommend. And how many other people can say they've travelled to their race on a hovercraft?
PS These comments relate to the Ryde 10 miles race, despite the title! Date of review: January 28, 2007
In short: Relaxed & friendly with perfect organisation. In full: This is the second time I've done this race, and it's a cracker. I'll be back next year for sure.
The weather in Jersey in mid-November is a few degrees warmer, and sunnier than the mainland so this is a great trip for a pleasant long-weekend.
The race starts on an athletic track, then onto a mile or so of closed roads before heading out into the rolling (well, uphill!) countryside. Although the rural roads are not closed, traffic is not a problem at all. The course twists along little country lanes, past the famous Jersey cows, then a lovely half-mile downhill blast down to the coast for a view of France, and back to the track. There are plenty of water stations and all junctions were manned with enthusiastic marshalls.
Everybody gets a warm welcome when they arrive, and again a personal mention as they cross the line. The athletics track has ample toilets, changing rooms, hot drinks and cakes.
If you've been racing hard all year and fancy a relaxed but fast year-ender, nothing could be finer than this trip to Jersey. Date of review: January 15, 2007
In short: A brilliant race, marred by a poor start In full: This race is absolutely wonderful. The SGRAC folks deserve an award for the number of helpers, marshalls, Police, etc who came out today. Everybody I met was enthusiastic and helpful - this would be a wonderful first race for beginners.
This is a brilliant event, but it could be improved tremendously with an improved start. I know the organisers tried a new split-start this year, and I suspect the one-hundred(ish) "elite" runners enjoyed having half the road to themselves. Unfortunately that meant that the remaining 900 of us were crammed into half the width of the road, with slow runners in the way. I was only half-way in the pack and it took me 10 seconds to move from stationary, then the first 20 seconds were no quicker than a fast walk. Really disappointing when 20 seconds makes a big difference to the result on such a short race.
For next year they could try: (a) chip-timing, and/or (b) start the elite runners 10 minutes early, then allow the remaining runners to use the entire road width (with unique elite race-number colours and number-range this would be practical for the scorers).
Once away from the start and out onto Stubbington Lane the rest of the race was excellent. Where else in the world can you run past a Hovercraft Museum, have an Air-Sea rescue helicopter circling overhead, pass a Catalina flying boat and see the sea?!
As flat as a pancake, and if you can manage to get a good start then it is the perfect course for your 10k PB.