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
In short: Great marshals In full: A very pleasant run along an attractive route by the Thames, and then around the streets by Kew Gardens. Though the route is flat, the surface varies which adds interest. The starting surface was lumpy grass which was hard going, but served to hold back on the desire to go too fast at the start. The day was glorious - lots of sunshine - and it didn't really get too hot until later on, so the early start was appropriate. The marshals were very enthusiastic and involved - probably the best marshaling I've encountered. They made me feel safe and secure, and almost every one of them had a word or two of encouragement. This is a low key event so not much was expected, but a little more organisation at the beginning would be worth it. Some signs at the car park directing people to the start area, and perhaps a tannoy announcement (or at least a marshal going round) would be good. The loudspeaker used to give information and advice at the start could be louder - about half the runners couldn't hear what was being said (other than "steps"!). This was my first 10 mile and I was very pleased. It's good that there are people out there who are prepared to keep this distance alive. The Fuller's glass is very nice - much better than I expected. I'd be interested in doing this again even though it's not in my area. Date of review: April 16, 2007
In short: Weeeeeeeeeeeeeeee! In full: I love this run. I love it because of the big race atmosphere. You notice the big clear signs as you drive in. You notice the other runners all heading in the same direction. You notice the big Start gantry, and the crowds gathering to watch, and the marching band walking down the centre of the street, and the police towing away any awkwardly parked car. This is a big event. It's a popular event. And all of Hastings is aware of it. I love it because of the long hill climbs at the start. Challenging - yes. Demanding -yes. But also very rewarding. I love it because of the church choirs out singing. The crowds banging saucepan lids. The whistles, whoops and roars of support. And then the long silence of that huge, never-ending hill where every year somebody collapses: deceived, out-witted and exhausted. I love it because of the wonderful weeeee! of the downhill section, and the playful torture of the uphill twists and turns. I love the occasional beautiful view from the Ridge, the character of Hastings Old Town, the whiff of beer from all the splendid pubs, and the bemused look on the faces of the tourists on the seafront as you run past the crazy golf and the cafe. I love it all. Are there bits that can be improved? Absolutely. Better organisation at the start to get people into the right time zones. And much better organisation at the finish to keep spectators away from the finish zone. Runners are often disorientated at the finish - they've pushed hard for a sprint finish, and now they want their medal and a drink. The tea is great - but it is a struggle to find it. And there was no water, and no bananas. These things don't cost much. I like the horse brass, but I'd be happier with a cheaper medal on a ribbon, and the saved money spent on water bottles and bananas. Small improvements that would mean so much.
I noticed there was more support this year than last - I guess that's down to the fine weather. I didn't do a PB, but I did run 6 minutes faster than last year, and did it in 2.20.48 - and that's with a cold, and having visited the beer festival in Brighton the day before!
I'll be back for 2008. Date of review: March 15, 2007
In short: An enjoyable romp around a pleasant park. In full: I quite liked the fact that it was three laps. Until this year I hadn't done any multiple lap runs because I thought they would be boring, but I've done two so far this year, and enjoyed both.
The flat terrain means this is a good run for a PB - though it has to be pointed out that some of the corners are very steep, and the course is rather narrow for the amount of runners, so overtaking is very tricky on the first lap. I didn't notice people being sorted into time bands, and slower runners did start too far forward and hold up people behind.
I felt the organisation was poor for such a well attended run. The t-shirt and baggage tent was too far from the start. The marshalls hadn't been briefed to give encouragement - and they seemed thin on the ground. The single water station was for a lot of the time, just a heap of plastic wrapped bottles. Runners had to stop and break through the plastic with their fingers to get at the bottles. And for a period a couple of park tramps blocked the water station and prevented runners getting at the water.
The man collecting the timing chips had a grump, bad tempered attitude and was wandering around so runners had no idea where to put their chips. On occasion he could be seen walking away from tired runners who wanted to put their chips in the box. Having two static boxes one either side of the finish would be better. At least then other runners could point to a known location.
The t-shirt is very nice.
I think this is a good race for beginners as it is so flat and is attended by a number of other beginners.
I enjoyed this, and I enjoyed the whole day. But I wouldn't do this again as it offers little for an experienced runner other than the flat terrain. Date of review: February 10, 2007
In short: Great start to the season In full: A wonderfully playful and scenic run through mud splashes, steep climbs and log leaps. Great fun. Organisation needs tightening. The start was delayed by 15 minutes without explanation. Rather naughty for such a small event, especially on a cold day - people had to go back to their cars to keep warm. Also, even though the course was well marshaled and roped off at appropriate points, there were still points at which it was possible to wander off course if not paying close attention. However, I thoroughly enjoyed the day and will 100% be doing this next year. Strong recommendation. Date of review: February 4, 2007
In short: Awesome - The run of a lifetime! In full: If you want to run a race, run a marathon. If you want to achieve something awesome and inspiring, complete the Beachy Head Marathon. The run is faultless - but very hard-core. No charity runners or gorilla suits in evidence. Very few onlookers - and those members of the public that you do pass look at you in astonishment: you're running on these hills?! The camaraderie of the other runners is uplifting. This is a mad, mad marathon - it's big and it's bad. But I felt exhilarated all the way round. There was always something new and amazing. A descent through an autumnal wood alive with colours. A heart-breaking climb up an endless flight of steps to reach the top and get a stunning view of the Cuckmere Meander. The check point at Litlington with tea, sticky bun, a nice sit down and a trad jazz band. The endless ups and downs of beachy head itself. And the reckless whizz of dashing downhill for the last mile to the finish. And - at the end of all that - to be treated to jacket potato and baked beans with rice pudding to finish. A hard, challenging run - but one to feel proud to have completed. A brilliant day. And one I shall certainly do again. Excellent value for money. An event for real walkers and runners. Date of review: October 29, 2006
In short: Attractive Scenery. Poor Organisation In full: I enjoyed that. I finally cracked sub-2.20, so I'm well chuffed - especially as I got a nasty stitch at the top of the hill which never left me and was quite draining.
I thought the route was very attractive and very enjoyable.
It was a mixed day though. We were approaching Henley just after nine o clock when we hit a traffic jam. Hardly any movement. A number of runners who had driving partners left their cars and ran to the start. My partner doesn't drive, so I had to endure the long crawl into town. I parked in the first car park I saw signposted, which ended up being a mile from the start. I then had to run to the start. I kept thinking they would delay the start because clearly there were a number of runners held up by the traffic. But no. So I had to run against the flow of runners to get to the start. I got to the tail end just as they were passing under the start.
The water stations were poor for a half-marathon. Cups are OK for runs up to 10k, but longer runs need bottles so people can take on a lot of fluid without having to stop to sip. The water stations were also quite slow - there didn't seem to be too many volunteers.
I think I prefer races organised by running clubs - or at least in conjunction with running clubs, so there are more experienced volunteers, and better facilities.
At the finish there was a lot of confusion because the water station couldn't be found. I don't know about anyone else, but I tend to be quite distracted at the end of a long run. I'm tired, thirsty and unable to think clearly. I need a clearly indicated water station. And water that is served quickly so people don't have to queue up to get one small cup.
Also, these days bananas are common after a long run.
It seemed with this race that the Rotary Club were so keen to raise the maximum amount for their charities that they didn't want to spend any more money than they had to.
Personally I would prefer to pay a quid or two more and be better looked after.
Anyway - rant over.
I met some great people on the run. And Chrissie and I enjoyed spending the rest of the day doing a mini pub crawl of Henley.
Overall a good day due to the attractive route and the pleasantness of the town. It's such a shame the organisation was so meagre. Date of review: October 8, 2006
In short: A day at the seaside - but no picnic! In full: Having had a full day's drinking on the Saturday, and getting to bed quite late, I wasn't in the best state to achieve my target of a sub 2.20 - and, sure enough, as I saw my time slipping, I relaxed into a recovery walk near the end with a sigh of relief. Despite my slow time of 2.28, I really enjoyed this run. The route is very pleasant - up and down a very undulating, but never too severe, path along the attractive Thanet coast. My favourite part was coming down past Bleak House into Ramsgate and running past holiday-makers enjoying cups of tea in the tea shop on the harbour front. The gel at half-way, and the flapjack and sports drink at the end were very nice touches.
Support was thin, though a family clapping, cheering and whooping from their balcony near Ramsgate did raise a smile.
The start was a bit vaque. There were no clear directions, and people milled about looking confused. The medal is nice, though it would be nice to have the date and race on the medal. Date of review: September 4, 2006
In short: Cow shit and styles In full: Low key event, but very pleasant. Mostly flat with some naughty slopes and some strength sapping styles. That and the off road surface make this an unlikely PB race, though I managed to achieve one (2.20.19)! Think of this as a very long and more scenic version of those cross-country runs you had to do at school. Registering late wasn't a problem. Water stops were cups. There was no fruit or other goodies at the finish, but there was a meat BBQ. The medal is quite acceptable. The start and finish is a long circuit and a half of a large field. The countryside is pleasant, though not stunning. There is a lot of cow shit on the river side section of the course. Date of review: August 20, 2006