In short: One of the very best races around-and it's getting even better ! In full: Along with the NDR (quick plug-not that it needs it !)this is my personal favourite of all the many excellent Kent races.
What makes it really special is the atmosphere.HHH and the whole village put on a huge effort and the village green on a sunny Summer afternoon,with its food stalls,beer tent etc and nearby pub and village cricket has something for everyone.
I've always felt this is the perfect first race to hook a beginner-as well as everything else,it's very friendly and supportive.
The hot,humid conditions made it harder than usual yesterday,but on a cooler day it can be pretty quick and it's always competitive at the front,with lots of good,local club runners.
Some traffic congestion is to be expected,as the village is only accessible via picturesque country lanes,but the new "one way" system worked well,I thought.
Another improvement this year was chip-timing and the "targets" in the urinals were a nice touch !
Overall-not to be missed. Date of review: June 6, 2010
In short: Liked the new course and venue In full: So how did it compare to the usual venue ?
Plenty of car parking,plenty of toilets and generally an excellent venue for a race.
On a sunnier day,the surrounding countryside would be superb and the marshalling and water-stations (which also stocked Gatorade)were excellent.
I found the course tougher than the usual one (or I've simply slowed down since I last did it!).No "killer hills" as such,but an awful lot of them and if we weren't going up,we were going down so I'm sure my legs will feel it in the morning.Overall,the course is great-plenty of variety and challenge,with a fast finish.
I probably prefer the new course and venue to the old and maybe there's room for both half-marathons in south east Kent ? Date of review: May 31, 2010
In short: Excellent Spring half,that suits all runners In full: This is always a "must do" and is undoubtedly one of the best halfs around.
Top-class organisation,very fast course,good crowd support and always a great atmosphere.The spacing of the water-stations is exemplary.
The race has probably now reached its limit.There's only really one road into Paddock Wood,although parking isn't a problem as long as you're prepared to leave the car a mile or so away from the start.The race needs more toilets and one thing that always seems to help is a portable urinals unit and maybe having portaloos in more than one location.
Overall though,it's hard to fault-especially when the weather was as race-perfect as it was this year. Date of review: April 13, 2010
In short: 2003 revisited In full: I ran this in 2003 in a howling gale and driving rain-and lo and behold it was the same again today !
This is seriously unlucky,as the weather in Kent was glorious all through the last week.
On a calm day,the course is set up for a PB and the scenery,looking out into the bay,is special.
I must have set a "PB" today for spectacularly varied mile splits : the return leg with the wind behind us was exhilarating-I haven't run as fast for years.However,any kind of forward motion into the headwind was a challenge.
Special appreciation to the marshalls,water stations,officials at the finish etc-couldn't have been much fun standing around all morning. Date of review: November 1, 2009
In short: Hugely enjoyable. In full: My first time-and what a great race.
The organisation and marshalling were excellent-great encouragement and direction all the way round.
It was every bit as tough as I'd been told to expect.Where the sand was still wet,it's actually a good surface to run on.However,the sections on dry sand and broken rock are absolutely leg-sapping.
The atmosphere was great too-very friendly and real "camaraderie".It's very much tougher than a typical half-marathon and "PB potential" is meaningless in a race such as this one.
Above all,I found it one of the most enjoyable races I've ever run-genuinely different,stunning scenery and a real challenge.Personally,I also think Saturday morning is the perfect time for a race-I have the rest of the weekend to recover and can enjoy a "few drinks" tonight without having work tomorrow. Date of review: October 10, 2009
In short: Low key,testing 10K-well woth doing In full: I ran in the 10K,although there is also a 5K option.
The course is rural and undulating,which makes it a very enjoyable challenge.
Well organised,with a nice atmosphere before and after the race.A good choice for families because,as well as a 5K and 10K,there were also children's races after the main races had finished.
Love the medal ! genuinely different and one to keep.
One suggestion:the start was crowded,not helped by some inexperienced runners starting far too near the front.I saw at least one faller and the organisers should consider doing what other,similar races have done and starting with a lap of the field (to thin out the runners) before exiting into the lane.
Overall,very enjoyable and worth a visit. Date of review: September 13, 2009
In short: Hugely enjoyable and distinctive. In full: An absolutely excellent race.The course is very tough,but the distance makes it manageable.
Amazingly good value,great organisation and a varied,off-road,challenging course.The hill at halfway must be the toughest in Kent-and some of the downhills are exhilerating.
2 points to consider for further improvement:could do with a 2nd water station around 1/3 of the way round and maybe some recognition for 2nd,3rd M and F finishers,first V40 and V50 men and women etc ? Needs only be "token",as the race is incredible value for £7 as it is.
Definitely,a "must do" race and there's nothing else like it in Kent. Date of review: August 30, 2009
In short: Nice course In full: Pluses : great course.Uphill and into the wind for the first 5K,flat and fast for the return.Overall,it's a varied,challenging course in a nice,seafront setting.Other pluses-efficient chip timing,plenty of nearby parking.
Minuses:pricey for a 10K on quiet roads,with only a very basic medal as a memento.Needs more toilet facilities.Race venue is small and would get seriously cramped on a wet day.
In short: Good,solid half marathon In full: Scores top marks for organisation and an excellent venue in the athletics stadium.
Since I last ran it,the big hill at mile 9 has changed.From memory,it's not as steep,but the new detour section means you're running uphill for longer.
The course is "all right" : the roads around Dartford are always busy (proximity of Bluewater must be a factor)but the police and marshalls did an excellent job of keeping us away from the traffic.
Personally,I don't believe it needs chip-timing.The technology doesn't always work (e.g.Canterbury half this year) and it's your official time that counts (you can always get your unofficial time from your stopwatch). Date of review: July 21, 2009