In short: Tough but likeable In full: Weather plays a large part in one's enjoyment of a race, and the weather conditions on Sunday were not bad, but it was a slightly damp, slightly windy sort of day that diminished the spirits somewhat, and reduced the amount of people out and about who normally give the runners a smile and a wave.
I like this race - I never do well here, and the start is always a bit haphazard, but the marshalls are friendly, the course is attractive, and the race is good value. The change in the course was good - I heard it was because of water works in th estate, but whatever the reason, it would be worth keeping the course change in for future years as it's better to run along the coast than through a housing estate.
If possible, more directions and firm guidance at the start would be helpful. The new start location had similar problems to the previous location in that people were walking up to the start only to find they had to turn around! The tannoy van was parked on the start path so people spilled out around it - partly to hear what was being said, and partly to avoid running into it!
The crisps were a good idea - salt is needed to help stabilise blood pressure. More long distance run organisers are giving out salty snacks these days, which is very positive.
In short: Attractive race In full: Very nice race through attractive countryside. The hills near the end are quite stiff, but what goes up must come down, and the long downhill to the finish is great fun.
There's a relaxed, low key feel to the whole event, a very small field, and encouraging and friendly marshals.
The entry fee includes access to the Mount Ephriam grounds for the whole family, so that's a big bonus. The maze is worth trying!
Be aware that there is little in the way of goodies and no medal. I got a bag printed with the name of the sponsor - but the printing had mostly worn off by the time we got home.
The Red Lion nearby - which you pass near the start - is a decent pub on a chocolate box village green!
Normally I do Cliffe Woods 10K on this date, but will switch to Mount Ephraim from now on. Date of review: August 22, 2008
In short: Poor organisation In full: The weather conditions were a challenge, however, the lack of road signs, the decisions on the day (putting out mile markers - changing 3k to 5K), and the poor commentary were inexcusable. An organisation is measured by how they cope with problems, and this one didn't do well. I have listened to the organiser's explanations on the forum, but felt that some of the criticisms were not properly addressed. Date of review: July 21, 2008
In short: It's a bit gorgeous this one In full: Wow! What an experience!
Stunning countryside - what a gloriously chosen course. And the organisation was first class. Excellent value for money. Puts lots of bigger events to shame.
Lots of jelly babies and gels and isotonic drinks on offer. The most amazingly helpful, friendly and good looking marshals I've yet experienced.
And beer offered at two drinks stations! Above and beyond! Totally awesome!
The scenery is amazing - and the time of year for this event means that the countryside around the North Downs is seen at its fragrant best. The marshals are proud of the course - especially the legendary poppy field. Passing comments to the marshals - "This is a beautiful course" are returned with - "Wait till you see the poppy field!" And when you get there you have to pause as the marshal there announces: "You are about to see one of the seven wonders of the world!" O yes - and it is!
It's a tough run that's for sure, but as it demands you walk up the slopes, it's actually not a bad course for a fit beginner - allowing the body to rest. I would say that you need to be fit to cover the distance, the terrain, and the time barrier. This is at the limits of my personal ability - however, I am a plodding hippo who does marathons at around the 6 hour mark. Everyone is friendly and supportive, so as long as a beginner is fit and has done some training then I would say, go for it. Make your first run a special one!
It was a PB for me as I had never done a 30k before. It's not a common distance, after all!
With all the drinks, treats, marshals, police, first aid, swimming pool, showers, beer, cake and t-shirt this has to be one of the best value runs in the country.
I should imagine everyone involved in this is proud of this run, and justifiably so.
This is something very, very special indeed.
Thank you all so much! Date of review: June 17, 2008
In short: Great location for an average race In full: There's nothing much to mark this out as being a particularly bad or good race. It was a fairly typical local club run - though oddly enough organised by a club a good few turfs away from their home patch!
It was modest in its refreshments - a splash of water in a cup during the run, and a bottle at the end. No bananas, and no extras. However, a fairly decent quality medal for the size of the event, and engraved with the date was a bonus.
The course worked, and Chrissie was happy because she saw me several times without having to move much from one spot, but it did seem to lack imagination, going round in circles and not making the most of the potential views. There was the potential for a mix up at the top of the hill, and marshals had to stay alert for who was going where - a review of the course before hand was useful, and either an online map or a copy of the course sent out with the race number would have been appreciated.
The marshals did a good job, but I would have liked a bit more encouragement from the majority - enthusiastic marshals can really lift a race and make it very special. The woman on the corner by the playground was the most supportive - always smiling and urging on the runners. Well done to her - but no points to the marshal who asked me to tell two women pushing prams to move to the side of the path - I did it, but I thought that was the job of the marshals themselves! Add that incident to the two marshals by the Queens House who turned a blind eye to two young lads cycling among the runners in a dangerous fashion, and there is a general feeling of apathy about the marshaling which is a shame, as in many races the marshals appear to really enjoy themselves!
I notice other people making comments about the finish not being clearly marked. Neither was the start. Those of us in the main pack set our watches from the moment we pass the start line and stop them the moment we pass the finish line - as such it is very helpful to have these points clearly indicated! This race does, I suppose, have the distinction of having the most poorly marked start and finish points of any race I have attended!
On the whole though, the minus points are not significant - every race has minor points, and this has less than most - but then the plus points are not great either. Apart from the location!
Having a properly organised run in Greenwich Park is a treat. It's a wonderful location. Very attractive and uplifting. The undulations, the twists and turns and the hills make for an interesting course. Being able to wander around the park and feed the squirrels afterwards is a big bonus. And then having Greenwich itself to explore is great fun.
It's the location that makes this race special. And I'll be back next year for more of the same please! But next year I won't stop for a pee break on the way round and so hopefully will do better than this year's 1 hour 17 seconds! Date of review: March 3, 2008
In short: Bracing In full: I like this run. It's scenic and relaxed. There's only a few moments of traffic, the rest is on paths. Marshals are very friendly and encouraging - with at least four giving away jelly babies. The run through Broadstairs is great fun - the tourists are not quite sure what to make of the hordes of sweaty runners steaming past the cafe. The medal, goody bag, t-shirt, gels, bananas and sports drink all make this a bargain run. Good organisation. There was a louder PA system this year which helped, though for new runners clearer directions to the start, and an indication of which way to face would be helpful. Perhaps a lane kept clear so slower runners can make their way to the back easier.
Anyway - I enjoyed this, and got a faster time than last year (2.26.13) thanks to Jill who saw me flagging and shouted at me to help her. We paced each other the last few miles, and then at the end I embarrassed my self by leaning over to give a kiss of thanks and ended up falling all over her! Sorry!
I'll be back next year. Date of review: September 3, 2007
In short: Long school cross-country In full: I like this run. I did it last year as a prep for Beachy Head. I was enticed last year by the off-road aspect, and by reading about the cows and sheep in the fields. It's not a PB run - narrow paths, stiles, and tricky, changing underfoot conditions (wet or dry) keep down the ability to build up speed and keep a constant pace. It's not a big atmosphere run with crowds of supporters and music. It's a Sunday morning cross country run. Very low key, and very much like the school cross-country runs of my youth. The charm of the course (winding through cornfields, along disused railway tracks and river banks, over fields full of cow shit and dozy sheep), the warm and encouragement of the marshals, the views of the South Downs and the swans gliding on the river, and the general low key, casual feel of the event persuaded me back this year as part of my training for Amsterdam, but also just for the sheer joy of doing this one again. A bit of a drive for me - but worth it. I like having a spot of Sunday lunch and a couple of pints of Tanglefoot in the White Hart afterwards. That's what life is about.
I didn't get a PB - despite the crowded start and the mud, I still went off too fast. I got 2.22.40 - I wish I'd paid more attention and pushed for a 2.22.22! Date of review: August 20, 2007
In short: Delightful In full: This is my second year. I really like this run - even though 10K is not my favourite distance. The atmosphere is warm and friendly, with enough people to create a real buzz. Organisation is assured and smooth. Traffic is kept away from the route - though a pair of marshals did go "off duty" near the junction at the railway bridge, allowing a car to start edging into the runners; not sure why, but the marshals had positioned themselves the other side of the bridge. I noticed there were some water cups this year, but not enough - again it was bottles. I carried my own, and that was enough, even on a warm day. I don't think I prepared well for this - or perhaps it was the humidity - but I took 1 hour 36 seconds, which is my slowest 10K for over a year. The gentle inclines seemed very steep this year!
This run is now a part of my calender - and it's good that it matches up with the Dartford Beer Festival. What a splendid day: a good run in the morning, then idling away the afternoon sipping beer! Date of review: July 15, 2007