In short: Half marathon: Mud, hills and glorious scenery, at a price In full: A couple of years since I ran a CTS race and wow have they got popular now. I stopped running them because, despite being excellently organised events in great places, the prices just kept going up. I bit the bullet and went back regardless of the steep entry fee and what a brilliant event it was.
Race HQ was massive (it needed to be with 4 events and 100s of runners), well-equipped, some freebies, adequate parking nearby (tough hill walk after the event). Registration was busy but organised. The whole thing seemed much more polished now - two years ago it had a small event feel to it.
The half marathon went in two waves. The 'elites' all went together and then the rest did a staggered start (needed to as there were so many entrants). This worked pretty well and avoid the clutter at stiles and narrow paths.
The course was breathtaking (and very well marked). This is what makes the CTS so good. 7 miles along the beautiful coast path from Osmington to Lulworth via Durdle Door. Severe slippy clay mud for the first couple of miles but then stunning views and brutal hills. By the time I arrived in Lulworth any hope of a good time had gone - I just wanted to complete it. Fortunately the journey back further inland was much kinder. Before the 14.8 miles was complete, there were numerous stiles to cross (cramp!) and then the last mile with some steep hill climbing. So happy to finish (once I worked out where finish was).
These events are brilliantly organised in superb locations. I do think they're too pricey but it's all supply and demand and this event was rammed! Only gripe would be as already mentioned: the feed stations on CTS are poor especially given the full maz and ultra events. We can all carry our kit but it wouldn't hurt to add the bananas, crisps, squash, coke, mars bars etc like you see at other similar events.
Still the toughest and most scenic runs I've been on. Date of review: December 5, 2011
In short: A very well organised inaugural event, except for the number of water stations In full: On a blisteringly hot October day the first Basingstoke Half took place. The course would have been tough on a normal October day but was punishing in the heat. This is a pretty hilly half, for a town roadie. The start was well organised and the course brilliantly marshalled. Despite the rural setting of most of the course, there was really good support in lots of pockets, with drinks, sweets and oranges on offer. There were even lots of hoses being held out by residents along the road in Cliddesden which were really appreciated. Some of the hills were really tough but the fast last 3 miles made for a pretty quick finish.
For a first time event, this was superbly put together. I do have two gripes. 3 water stations on a half marathon with loads of first time runners is never enough and on a day like yesterday (that was well forecasted), there should have been many more. Given that some of the course overlapped, the 3 stations could easily have been moved to duplicate. Thankfully, from mile 9 (last water station!) to the end, there were a few nice residents who had set up their own water stations. At the very least, there should have been one in Cliddesden on the return leg. The other point was the bizarre right-angled turn into the finish straight – what was going on there? Had it been wet, everyone would have been slipping over on that. Apart from that, well done to the organisers.
I hope this one comes back again next year as it is a really good challenging course. No PBs but much more fun than most town half marathons when they are flat!
In short: Surprisingly hilly well organised race with a silly start time In full: First time I've done this and was surprised how hilly it was. No massive hills (total 700ft ascent over 13.1m) but very bumpy. Didn't seem to be much on the flat except for a mile or so passing the polo fields, where there was a head-on wind to slow you down. It makes finding a pace pretty tough and there were also a few tight bends. It reminded me a bit of a trail run but on tarmac. Last mile down the walk was very fast but seemed very, very long as dead straight!
The parking was very well organised and I had no issues getting in or out. The race HQ was perfect set in the park next to the Long Walk to Windsor Castle. Marshsalling good but not much traffic in the park. Water stations fine but could have been more on a hot day. Either that or provide bottles so runners can carry beyond the station.
My moans would be the start time (1pm). I wouldn't have bothered had I realised as it carves up the entire Sunday. I was also a bit confused by the line-up expected finish times. It seemed that the fastest was 1:30?! I think the start might work better if the road was fenced on both sides much further down the road and there were some pens for expected times. As the fences stopped at 1:45 sign, people poured in there and the start was slow and crowded. Something needs to be done if you want a good start with 4,000 runners on a narrow two-lane road.
A trip around the Great Park makes for some great views including some deer. Support was excellent at the start and at a few points mid-race but mostly fairly quiet.
This is a well organised event with a bumpy course that shouldn't be underestimated. Date of review: September 26, 2011
In short: Very good event, beautiful views, some hills and stadium finish! In full: I really enjoyed this one. Not many runners (160 or so I guess). Well organised. Great medal and t-shirt. Loads of fruit and drink at finish. Pub at finish line. Sprint finish around a 400 metre track at a (small) stadium.
First 6 or so miles are inland, picturesque and pretty lumpy. Then once you get to the western beaches you get some wonderful coastline, really nice. All this is pretty flat so you can get some speed going (wind was kind). Quite a few water stations (could have been more). Downside was the congested roads near the end (this event is too small for road closures) so you had to weave around often unsympathetic motorists.
Crowd support was excellent in the more built-up places but there was a lot of solitary running - but no issues with crowding ruining your pacing.
I would definitely recommend this one. Guernsey is beautiful and this is a well-organised event. Finish at the stadium was excellent. So was the pint. Date of review: September 5, 2011
In short: Fantastic scenic course with some testing hills In full: I was really impressed by this event. Race HQ fine at a school. The race staff had been there all morning seeing off those 50 and 100 miler nutters. Start was a way off over the railway and then the course follows the North Downs Way - so the markers were a mix of the official footpath signage, centurion black/yellow neon arrows plus some small yellow ground flags in places. The problem was that the sharp left turn at about mile 2 had no centurion marker. I only went the right way because someone spotted the NDW arrow and called a load of guys back who had gone straight on. By mile 4-5, suddenly I was being overtaken by loads of runners (so clearly I had gone wrong or they had - I ran 26.3m in the end). At the feed station it became clear that some people had already put in an extra mile or so - glad it wasn't me.
The rest of the run takes you up and down some good hills, Tarmac, woodland path, sand tracks (horrible) and eventually up to St Martha's church, back down and then quickly back up. There was about 2,500 ft of climb so quite bumpy. Much of it was familiar from the Farnham Pilgrim last year. The out-and-back worked well for me.
The finish was pretty low key, tucked behind a petrol station. But then parts of this race were pretty quiet - being near the back and only 70-odd runners meant it was all pretty split up beyond 20 miles. Almost like a training run.
I must give mention to the feed stations - best ever for drinks, sweets, savouries - really really good. Would have preferred to see them every 4 or so miles but I guess this is focussed on the ultra's events not marathon nancies.
Parking by race HQ was simple but perhaps next time I will pay to park at Farnham station so I don't need to hobble all the way back as finish was some way from HQ.
A good event with great terrain and scenery. Beats the sh*t out of roadies. Date of review: August 15, 2011
In short: Continues to be a superb event In full: 4th year in a row I've done this one. Speaks for itself. Great challenging course. Gets mixed up year-on-year. Wet or dry it makes for excellent terrain. Great marshalling, great organisation and great fun. Lots of heavy shading as well on parts of the course which is greatly appreciated when we get a sunny one. This is definitely one of the best trail HMs around the south. Date of review: August 15, 2011
In short: Tough hills and brilliant organisation. Great race. In full: What a good race. All off-road, mostly on wide tracks within woodland. It is multiple lap but done cleverly with several different circuits. It was also the best marked race I have ever been on. The hills down and up are long, long, long - my Garmin finished with 1,500 feet ascent which isn't bad for a half marathon! The view from Holmbury Hill was pretty special. Marshalled brilliantly, good HQ, orange squash as well as water at the frequent stations. And a nice sunny day to add to it. If you want to get ahead, start near the front as there is a styal 1/4 mile in that will certainly slow things down - I had hoped for a similar queue on the return at mile 13 but, unfortunately, not.
An excellent well-organised event. Date of review: July 25, 2011
In short: 25k. Superb scenic hilly run. Poor route marking In full: Entered this online and received no further information until I enquired 3 days before race which was a bit poor. The event's website isn't the best either but did the job.
On the day, a very good race. Easy parking. Easy number and chip collection. Organised start. Beautiful scenery that beats the pants off road runs. At one point we ended up in a small village in between two hills and it was stunning.
This one definitely reminded me of the Salisbury 54321 but smaller. Multi-distance, walkers and runners (and bikes) over very beautiful public footpaths and private land. The 25k distance was perfect for my marathon training. The route marking needs to be much better. Around Goodwood I would have gone off course at least twice if a fellow runner (who must have run last year) guided me and others back on course. At one point by the racecourse where we ended back where we have been earlier, there were two identical markers pointing in opposite directions! Sure, you have a map but if the event does some marking, the map becomes fairly useless if you can't identify easily where you are on it! Nobody told me there were check-in points to be initialled. I found out because I stopped at the first water station (others didn't). This station was overrun and the one person on it really needed more help.
Aside from this, the actual run was superb. The course great. Other runners were friendly. The downhill in the last 2/3 miles was welcome and very fast.
If they get the course marking right on this (or more marshals or both), this could be an excellent event.
I will be back for the 42k next year. Date of review: July 13, 2011
In short: Awesome as ever. Sets the benchmark In full: Not much to add from previous years' comments. This run is excellently organised, nice course with a few bumps and a very fast last 3m. Great local event. All-in-all a brilliant event from start to finish. Only minor grip: the hedges and trees really needed a trim on the business park road this time to avoid running on the road. Will be back again next year and the year after. Top marks! Date of review: May 18, 2011
In short: Brilliantly organised, excellent support all the way In full: Well, I waited 5 years for this place and listened to everyone tell me it was the best marathon etc. After running it, I can say that this is a truly brilliant mass race. The organisation at the start was silky smooth and throughout the 26.2m. And the support, well that is staggering. Everywhere people are shouting for you. The only places not covered with spectators were the underpasses. The finish is very, very well organised. Running a fast one is tough if you are not high up in the pens - this is London and most roads are narrow which makes for a slow start. The finish turn at Birdcage Walk/The Mall also got pretty cluttered. The only downside was I ran a cr@p one - but can't blame anyone else for that. Will be applying in the ballot year-after-year. Date of review: April 19, 2011