In short: Brum done good In full: This was my first time at the Birmingham half marathon and Brum done good. It was surprisingly easy to get dropped off the NIA at the start (much better traffic than last year I hear) and I enjoyed running through central Birmingham seeing it from a different angle. The course was pretty flat apart from a tough climb in Bourneville and the organisation at the end was brilliant with plenty of room to pick up medals, goody bags and drop off chips.
I really hope Birmingham will keep this event going. I think there are two areas that need improving for next time. First, they need to get the London Midland trains running early on the Sunday as I had to get a lift in which wasn't very eco-friendly for the race against climate change. Second, there was no point in having two guns at the beginning of the mass race. It could have started a stampede from the back as no-one knew there were going to be two guns and it added 50 seconds to 12,000 people's 'gun times' for no apparent reason. But apart from that a great race. Date of review: October 11, 2009
In short: Wet, wet, wet In full: My fifth year running Kenilworth and by far the wettest! A big thank you to all the marshalls for looking after us in the heavy rain. OK, so the front of the field got sent the wrong way at the start, but I don't think that will happen again. The course has some hills, the ones at mile 10 and mile 12 in particular, but the scenery is great, the roads quiet and the organisation very good. Date of review: October 5, 2008
In short: Well organised trail race in a great setting In full: This was the first running of the race in 2008 and it was really well organised. The course had lots of excitement in it, like a stream to run through and a very steep bank to negotiatie your way down. The views of the snow-capped mountains over Lake Windermere on one part of the course made it a great location. I suspect the course was more like 12km than 10km, but that hardly mattered on such an interesting course. Date of review: March 26, 2008
In short: Great pre-London training run In full: The Ashby 20 is a very well organised race, including sheperding all the runners from a holding pen to the start line. The course is pretty undulating and I found it tough, but on the upside if you're preparing for London you know it's going to be much flatter there. There was lots of water and sports drinks on offer and the organisers were very generous with food and drinks at the end. I did feel a bit guilty throwing away water bottles which were still half full, but better too much water than too little. The cracking lass on the motorbike at 7 / 15 miles was an added bonus! Date of review: March 9, 2008
In short: Good course, bit twisty in places but fairly flat. In full: I enjoyed this race. The course did have a lot of twists and turns but other than that it was fairly flat. There were some nice parts like the lake. The marshalls did a great job (and the nature of the course meant there needed to be lots of them). I got lucky with the parking. I parked in the car park right next to the start and got away very easily at the finish. The size of the race (about 2500) seems about right, it was much easier to get running than in some of the large half marathons.
In short: Great race - beautiful scenery and pretty flat In full: The Draycote Water marathon is set round a beautiful lake which is really inspiring when you're grinding out the miles. It's very different to a big city marathon: much more relaxing as you don't have to arrive hours before the start and you don't have to fight your way through other runners at the start before you hit your marathon pace. The only downside compared to a big city marathon is slightly less atmosphere, but I thought the atmosphere was good nonetheless.
The organisation was great and the recording of the laps was absolutely spot on. The organisers had done a great job setting out all the mile markers which were really helpful and must have taken ages. I also like the fact you could leave your bag near the lap counting station as I was able to pick up my own drinks and I could have dropped off clothes if I'd got too hot (but it was a freezing day!). The course was completely flat for stretches and I don't think you'd get a much flatter course in the UK.
An added bonus for this marathon is all the people doing the 35-mile race. When you're suffering towards the end of the marathon you can think to yourself: thank goodness I'm not running 35 miles!
In short: A good test for the London marathon In full: I'd read mixed reviews of this race in previous years. But I think it's a good pre-marathon training race. If you can do 20 miles you feel a lot better about tackling the marathon. That's the main benefit of the race.
One point for future runners is that the 3 lap course involves a short run around the campus, a longer first lap and then two shorter laps (which I didn't realise). Part of the race is on an A road, but it didn't affect my running.
The marshalls did a great job on an absolutely freezing day and the organisation was good (Chariots of Fire was playing on the stereo at the drinks station!). The free massage at the end was great too. Date of review: March 12, 2006
In short: Better weather for watching than running In full: I really enjoyed the Great North Run as an experience. The site of 50,000 people at the start is amazing. If I was doing the race again I'd get there earlier and push in closer to the front. As a sub-1:20 runner who stood next to the sub-1:05 marker I was surprised to see 1000 people in front of me at the start! But really it's not a race for club runners, it's much more about the occasion and the charities. And I loved the last mile along the sea front - seeing the sea always cheers a Brummie up! Date of review: September 19, 2005
In short: It was a day for watching rather than running! Very hot. In full: The race goes through some lovely countryside and villages. The run past the lake would have been great if it weren't for the sun beating down. Thanks to the organisers, especially for bringing out lots of extra water at the end. Date of review: June 19, 2005
In short: A great fun run In full: This really is a fun run. If you're quick the 2 laps won't suit you as you'll be picking your way through the masses on the second lap. You'll also have to run the gauntlet of water pistols and hosepipes from the locals; but on a warm day like yesterday that was just what the doctor ordered. The organisation is very good with electronic chips for a 5-mile fun run. There are some cars on the course, but there's not a lot you can do about that in the suburbs; and for once the runners ruled the road! All in all a great day out. Date of review: May 17, 2005