In short: For my money,the best race on the calendar. In full: Like many others,I find the NDR simply unmissable.Every year,I look forward to it and every year,I forget just how tough it is !
The last 10K is totally unforgiving unless you've paced the first 20K properly (like I didn't do this year),but it's worth every single ache and painful step.
Scenery-outstanding.Fantastic views and beautiful rural surroundings.In fact,it was better than ever this year,perhaps due to it being a couple of weeks earlier than usual.
PB Potential-if it weren't for the fact that it's the only 30K I've ever done,it would be non-existent !This is a very,very tough course and the cumulative effect of all the hills makes the final stretch in Shorne Country Park and the uphill road section that follows as hard as anything I've ever encountered.
Atmosphere-outstanding.There's a real sense that all the runners are in it together and there's always a great atmosphere at the finish afterwards.
Organisation-again,outstanding.The marshalling and marking of the course are the best you'll ever experience and the children at the water stations do a really great job.
Value-ditto ! a top quality tee-shirt,plenty of fruit,water and delicious cakes plus free swim,BBQ etc.
Beginner-friendliness-very friendly and supportive to runners of all standards,but this race is very tough and not really suited to beginners unless they've put in the necessary training.
Overall-still the best race in the calendar.If I could only do one race a year,this would be it. Date of review: June 10, 2007
In short: Well organised half,which is excellent value. In full: Lots of good points:excellent value,well organised and a really interesting,scenic,challenging course.The infamous hill at mile 10 needs to be treated with respect,but after running down it at mile 3 at least you know what to expect.Considering how wet it was,there was surprisingly good support,especially in the villages and there was a friendly,welcoming atmosphere throughout.
The weather was actually great for running (not so,I imagine for marshalling or manning the water stations-so special thanks to all those who stood in the rain for 3 + hours)and the only downside was that I was so wet at the end that I had to drive straight home afterwards.
Considering the rain,someone at IEK displayed a rich sense of irony by handing out free bottles of suntan lotion at the finish !
I shall be back next year,I hope. Date of review: May 27, 2007
In short: One of the best halfs in Kent-not as tough as it's reputation suggests ! In full: Scenery : In places,absolutely stunning views of the surrounding countryside.In other places,suburban streets.Nicely varied and never gets boring. PB Potential:Despite its reputation,it's a quick course-as is borne out by the course record of c.65 minutes.Spring Hill is tough-it goes on for a long time-but it's never steep enough to be an absolute killer (the hill at the end of the Folkestone Half is,imho,far worse).Most of the course is either flat or downhill and I thought the hardest part was the last 2-3 miles,with the slippery cobbles and pedestrians making it hard to maintain a steady pace.
Atmosphere:Extra point for Dame Kelly.Good crowd support,especially at the top of Spring Hill and a genuine "big race" feel.
Organisation:Top marks.Plenty of toilets,loads of efficient marshalls and water stations.Exceptionally well organised at the start-pens in 5 minute time bands worked very well,plus chip timing that actually worked and results within 1 hour of the finish.
Value:Great medal and the standard of organisation and attention to detail meant we got full value for our money.
Beginner-friendliness:Plenty of support for the slower runners and the size of the field means you'll never be on your own.Great choice for beginners,as long as you've put in the training-it's not a course to be taken lightly.
Overall:Great half marathon.Very varied,well-organised and challenging but with a real chance of a quick time. Date of review: February 25, 2007
In short: Good ,testing Winter workout In full: The first race of the year is always a bit of a shock to the system !I tend to alternate this one with the Dartford 10 and there's not much between them.As regards its 2007 incarnation :
Scenery:Great ! almost all on country lanes with picturesqe winter scenery and through pleasant,quiet villages.
PB potential: in January-are you kidding ? ! 2 challenging hills,but mostly mildly undulating and little traffic means it's quicker than it seems when you're running.
Atmosphere:rather flat and unremarkable.This is where,imho,the Dartford 10 is better.
Organisation: top marks all round.Excellent directional signing from the outskirts of Canterbury,plenty of nearby car parking,very effeicient marshalling etc-"10 out of 10".
Value: not cheap and the long sleeved shirt is distinctly "so so".Sorry-that's unduly precious-the race itself was well worth the money.
Beginner-friendliness: you'll certainly find an easier course,but the size of the field means you'll have plenty of company.
Overall: an enjoyable,challenging race to blow away the Winter cobwebs.Needs a bit more "oomph" if it's to maintain its popularity.
In short: A great race whatever the weather. In full: As always,a great race from TRAC and an object lesson in how to put on an excellent race in less than ideal conditions.On a calm day,this course would have "PB" written all over it-it's straightforward,traffic free and as flat as it gets.The organisation was superb and all the marshalls,organisers etc did a great job despite the conditions.Another characteristic of all TRAC's races is the friendly,relaxed atmosphere and it's a race that supports and encourages all runners. Date of review: December 3, 2006
In short: Great for quicker runners-not really set up for beginners. In full: It seems to draw mixed reviews.The course is great-very quick,scenic and exceptionally competitive at sub-40 level.I quite like mile markers (although I accept they won't be to everyone's taste)and the start time,facilities and running socks are great. However,many runners would expect at least one water station and after about 45 minutes,runners were queueing at the finish for too long while those ahead of them collected their mementos.The road out of the car park should also be closed until all runners finish-it's only fair !
I'll certainly do it again,as it's a great race for a quick time ,but if I was a beginner it wouldn't be my first choice for a 10K. Date of review: November 19, 2006
In short: Excellent addition to the Kent racing calendar. In full: Great new half-marathon that I really enjoyed."10 out of 10" for the course:the first 12 miles were exceptionally quick-think Paddock Wood,but in straight lines ! However,the Hill of Remembrance at 12-13 miles (well named,as I certainly won't forget it in a hurry )was really tough and meant that my legs were like jelly for the run-in to the finish.After 10 miles,I was comfortably on course for an all-time personal best,but despite slowing badly at the end I still finished in my best time for 6 years.Other plusses:very enthusiastic and encouraging marshalls (special mention for those at 11-12 miles-I really appreciated your support),lots of crowd support all the way round and fantastic facilities at the Grand Hotel.There was a great atmosphere at the Lees and everyone was very friendly and the organisers really made an effort to make it a memorable experience for all the runners.No real quibbles:yes,some of the mile markers were probably unreliable and hard to spot,but for 99% of us,does that really make any difference ?
One other thing,the race was blessed with perfect weather conditions. Date of review: October 29, 2006
In short: It's a good 'un ! In full: First time I've run it and it really is one of the best Autumn races around.
Positives: very quick course,almost pancake flat and only the number of twists and turns stop it from being "pure speed".Still,my fastest 10 mile time since 1999 means it must be exceptionally quick! Great atmosphere with lots of support throughout.Excellent race for beginners as the size of the field and the busy streets mean that you'll never feel isolated.The weather was also as near perfect for a distance race as you could wish for and my pre-race concerns about parking and road access were entirely unfounded.Nice tee-shirt and post-race atmosphere/facilities too.
Negatives : Race HQ not really adequate-queues for the toilets (especially the ladies ) looked horrendous and the start wasn't great unless you were near the front.
However,the posives far outweighed the negatives and sincere thanks to the Stragglers and all the excellent marshalls especially for putting on a great race that I've already "earmarked" for next year. Date of review: October 15, 2006
In short: A great addition to the Kent racing calendar. In full: The race was blessed with perfect weather conditions and was really enjoyable.It all seemed to work very well : excellent organisation , marshalling etc and a great atmosphere on the green before and after the race.I loved the course : a PB is unlikely due to the hills in the second half (especially the last one ! ) but there was very little traffic ,the scenery was lovely and I particularly enjoyed the two off-road sections through the woods.The barbecue at the finish was a nice touch , as was having Kelly Holmes in attendance-very nice of her to support the race like that.For next year , it would be good to have some trophies or similar for the winning runners , but otherwise this was a great first effort and one to remember for next year. Date of review: September 17, 2006
In short: Another great race from TRAC In full: Throughout the year ,TRAC put on a wide range of excellent races ,up to and including Kent's only remaining marathon.It can't be easy staging a half and full marathon to run concurrently , but the organisation , marshalling and general race support were first class.
The course is deceptively tough:there are no real "killer hills" (see , for instance , Dartford,NDR or Tunbridge Wells) but there seem to be an awful lot of them and their cumulative effect adds up !This year's "variable" was the very strong wind ,which made the course feel even harder.
The race also offered excellent value and good support , with less dodging of bemused holidaymakers than last year (the weather probably had a lot to do with that ).