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
In short: Very tough,but stunning surroundings and top-class organisation. In full: I think this is Kent's toughest half,as the 2nd hill especially is a real challenge.However,the course was stunning on a warm Spring day and the organisation was excellent.There were lots of special touches such as water bottles at each station and the facilities etc at the finish.
Great crowd support through the villages as well and plenty of toilets etc,even though numbers seemed well up on previous years. Date of review: May 24, 2009
In short: Flat,fast and alongside the sea In full: One of the quickest courses around,although I think the first 5K is definitely quicker than the return,probably because it's downhill overall whereas the return is "just" flat.
A first for me today:2 different tee-shirts!-so top marks for generosity.
It's always good to race alongside the sea-clean air and great views over the bay.
All in all,it's a race I always come back to every year and it always scores highly on atmosphere,race venue,organisation etc etc. Date of review: May 4, 2009
In short: Perfect day for a seaside race In full: From a personal perspective-it was a race to forget.For only the 2nd time in 15 years of racing,I was late for the start and waited until the last runners finished their 2nd lap before starting my race.
However,it was really enjoyable.Pretty much perfect conditions for a race along the seafront,on a flat course that is definitely one for targeting a PB (unless,like me,you're late!).
I like out-and-back courses too and there was a lot of support all the way.
It could do with a sponge-station at around halfway and maybe a 3rd water station,but otherwise it ticked all the boxes and I'll make sure I'm early next year. Date of review: April 10, 2009
In short: Becoming a "premier league" race In full: I first ran this in 1996.Back then,it was a fairly standard local club race.However,it has steadily grown to the point where it is now one of the big pre-London halfs in the South.
The organisation was top-class this year.Very well organised road closures,enough water and sponge stations (even on an unexpectedly hot day),excellent MC,plenty of toilets-the queues before the race were long,but moved quickly enough.
Although it has a reputation for being flat,I've never been entirely convinced ! It's certainly not hilly,but much of the 2nd half is up a slight,but still noticeable incline and times are never quite as fast as you expect them to be.
Overall,it's got everything you would want in a half-marathon and the numbers running continue to grow every year.The only constraint has already been mentioned:there is only really 1 road into Paddock Wood-and that is partially closed beforehand for the fun run.Paddock Wood itself isn't Reading or Tunbridge Wells for example,so a 2000 limit is probably as much as it can handle. Date of review: April 5, 2009
In short: I thought it was great ! In full: Firstly,I thought the organisation was exceptional.The air cadets were superb:well spaced,attentive water stations and they were coming round at the finish and topping up our cups and handing out jaffa cakes.The venue was top class too.Great facilities,loads of parking and very easy to get to.I was impressed by the on-screen interim results at the finish-first time I've seen that done.
The rolling start was interesting,although it seemed that most runners went off early.By the time I set off,at 9.25,I think I was one of the last 3 starters.The only real problem I had was in the early part of the return section on the A20.The path was very narrow there and the verge very rough and rutted,so I had to run on the A20 at times to overtake.However,the rest of the route was no problem.
The memento was nothing special,but much more importantly it was an excellent,very well organised race that I hope becomes a regular fixture. Date of review: March 22, 2009
In short: Good race despite the weather In full: We were unlucky with the weather-probably the worst morning for several months,especially the strong wind.
However,the race was as good as ever and the organisers had sorted a couple of "negatives" from previous years-parking near the race HQ and the no. of toilets.
Special thanks to the marshalls,especially those in the most exposed parts of the course.You did a great job and kept cheerful and supportive to us all,despite the cold and rain. Date of review: January 31, 2009