In short: I'd forgotten how tough the second half is! In full: This is the third time I've done this race and it was great, finally, to break 70 minutes. A good course in stunning scenery - I'll admit to underestimating the hills on the way back to Brecon.
Unlike other comments on here, however, I was very disappointed in the marshalling. Clearly the majority were not runners as they stood mutely watching us run past - very few words of encouragement or even clapping.
There were a number of places where I felt marshals were missing - junctions and places where the field switched sides of the road.
Hopefully the organisers will visit this site and take heed of the feedback, though given the pre-race discussion on the board (which went unnoticed) this may not be the case.
Overall though, it's still a good race - great to start and finish on the track and they even managed to organise some good weather!! Date of review: August 3, 2009
In short: Undulating with a very fast finish - shame about the timings In full: Overall a good race - not too unreasonably priced (when compared with other events of a similar size), well marshalled and of course, a great location.
Weather turned out to be perfect, though I'm glad I managed to get inside during the 15 minute delay.
Though I didn't get one, it was a nice touch having special T-shirts for the first 50 men and women to finish.
My only real gripes are: 1) the chip timing system didn't work at the start so all times are gun-to-chip which, given the lack of a clear start (the gun didn't sound) affected times recorded. 2) lack of signage from the finish back to the car park. 3) charging for tea/coffee at the finish - firstly, who carries cash with them during a race? secondly, given the conditions (it felt cold again after finishing) would it be so much to ask (given the £14 fee) for a free cuppa (I'd have swapped the tacky medal for one!)?
As it's local, I'll probably be back one day. Date of review: March 25, 2008
In short: Not as muddy as I expected... on the roads! In full: Other than the odd half-mile on tarmac and forest access road, plus the brief respite across the top of May Hill (beautiful views), this really was all about the mud.
Muddy ascents and descents, slippery mud, deep and sticky mud, flooded bogs by the lake... it had it all.
Great fun & thanks to the organisers and marshalls!
A couple of gripes re: course marking - the leaders made a wrong turn on the final descent and a large group further back went wrong early on in the race - but where I was, "stuck" in the middle, there were no such problems.
After the manic final descent on the mud-free tracks and road, the small incline to the finish line was a real killer for me.
Will we be back? Almost certainly... Date of review: January 21, 2008
In short: Well done - given the circumstances, though it got dark... In full: This race was postponed due to the severe flooding earlier in the year - so unfortunately a few of the slower runners would have been finishing in the twilight.
The course was flat and fast as advertised (I knocked about 3 minutes off my PB) and there was a good sized field.
The half pint of cider at the end was a good touch (though I think the bar staff in the pub must have got fed up with explaining that we had to go elsewhere to get our drinks - perhaps some guidance when given the token that the drinks were being served at the yacht club?) and the BBQ was fantastic (real meat in the burgers!!!).
I'm sure we'll be back... Date of review: September 26, 2007
In short: Why can't people be honest with their finishing time? In full: As promised, Swansea Bay was fast, flat and windy (though despite the headwind on the way out, I still got a PB and a positive split - I'm glad the wind wasn't going the other way, THAT would have been tough).
We followed the advice on the blurb to arrive early, and so found the traffic/parking to be fine - there wasn't even much of a queue to leave afterwards.
There was a distinctly low number of toilets for a field of up to 3500 advertised entrants.
The weather affected the atmosphere a little - with all the kids' races beforehand, I can imagine that on a sunny day it'd be almost carnival like - however the constant drizzle was actually a Godsend in the race, such that I didn't need anything from the water station.
My real gripe, as always with "big" races was the selfish positioning of people at the start of the race. I'm not a special runner by any means, but I have a good idea what time I'm aiming for - but if I'd lined up at the right place according to the well hidden timing pens (only noticed them because of the tannoy announcer) I'd have been dodging walkers for the first 2 miles!
When you stand between the 30 and 35 minute markers at the start, surrounded by overweight people listening to their MP3 players, something's gone wrong.
I've got absolutely no problem with anyone of any shape, size or ability taking part in a race, however it doesn't take much nous to realise that if you start too far forward you'll become a moving obstacle and frustrate other runners, directly affecting their enjoyment of the day. Given that this race is chip timed, there's even less reason to stand out of position as you'll get a "true" time anyway, regardless of how long it takes to cross the start line.
I expect the marshalls would have said something if these people stood right at the front amongst the elite - can't they do something about it further back too?
Note to event organisers: please can you make clear on the blurb that everyone will enjoy the day more if they start in the right place - and that starting further back will not affect their time?
Ok, rant over. Sorry!
Overall - a tough course (being so flat) but I got a PB, so I shouldn't complain too much! Date of review: September 26, 2007
In short: Nice course, good for the knees and away from cars In full: I'll try not to be biased as it's organised by my club, but this is a good, friendly race, with a wide range of abilities - and everyone's cheered in by the marshalls and crowds.
A fun run for children is held around the lake during the main race and there's the traditional Chepstow Harriers' BBQ, so it's a good family evening out.
There's a raffle at the end (with seemingly hundreds of prizes available!) and a goody bag including an energy drink. Very good value given that all profits go to charity.
The run itself is on undulating forest tracks with what seems to be significantly more down than uphill (it's an illusion!). My mistake, after holding off a competitor for two miles, was to think the finish was half a mile away and to let him get past... only to find the finish round the next corner - argh! Got a PB though, so can't complain, though I might scope out the course next year. Date of review: June 22, 2007
In short: Fast course, but very disappointing from "professional" event organisers. In full: I got my PB, finally dipping below 90 minutes (and avoiding the deluge) so was pleased with that. Shame about the bike gate/slalom towards the end, but that's life. I actually thought the mile markers were excellent - I didn't see 13, but by that stage it was "eyes out on stalks" straining to get that PB!
This was the 25th Tewkesbury Half Marathon and, I believe, the first year that 2:09 have organised it. I can't believe that it's made it this far if previous years have had such shoddy organisation. Over 900 finishers, so hardly a "small, local race"!
The race pack had one of the two promised maps missing (the one showing the start/finish area - which might have pointed out the options (or lack) for bag storage and toilets). On the Forum Mike Gratton explained that this was because they (2:09) simply sent out the forms that the council had sent - I'm sorry, that's just not good enough. Did no-one at 2:09 think to check the consistency of what they were sending out? Were they more intent on ensuring the 2:09 events brochures were included?
We got the start area and, not seeing a baggage store, asked at the 2:09 stand (presuming that they'd know where it was) - only to be told there WASN'T an official store (though we could leave bags in their tent it wouldn't be secure and could be left unattended!). Two minutes before the start I found out I could have left a bag in the reception area of the council offices. Why didn't the 2:09 staff know this?
I was lucky enough to get the goody bag - those who missed it missed out on a carrier bag and 3 leaflets from the local Virgin Gym, plus a bottle of water, SiS drink and some protein powder. There was also no queue when I finished... later on, when the rain came a huge queue formed. There was no need for this queue - pre-fill the goody bags, it's not difficult & ensures people are processed quickly (and can get warm ASAP rather than standing around in the cold).
As for the medal - very disappointing. No mention of the fact it was the 25th running of the event, and shared with the 5 mile race too. I'm not a fan of medals in the first place (much prefer a T-shirt which actually has some useful purpose) - and this was a very poor effort.
Sorry to rant, but this was my first experience of a 2:09 event and, having been to a great number of races organised by dedicated volunteers, this professionally organised event was the most disappointing to date.
Will I be back? Probably not... but maybe one day looking for another PB as it was definitely quick! Date of review: May 14, 2007
In short: Tougher than expected, well organised marathon. Would do it again if it weren't so far from home. In full: The course profile gives the impression of mountainous peaks for the first half of each lap... on the second lap a lot of people felt this was the correct impression!
I was very surprised when it took until 21+ miles for the first half marathoner to go past! Found out later that they'd started late (didn't think I was running THAT quickly!).
I think it's a great idea to set the half marathon off after the marathon - gives the halfers people to chase down and reduces the loneliness of the second lap for the marathoners (no chance of 90% of your running goup disappearing at half-way!).
Overall, a great day, worth the 5 hours in the car each way (not sure my legs agreed on the trip home). Excellent mementoes (cut glass block and emboidered towel) - much more useful and impressive than a medal.
Thanks to Bungay Black Dog for organising a great race - encouraging marshalls, plenty of water and sponge stations, just a shame they were let down on the day by the massage provider (was looking forward to that :-(
In short: How on Earth did the winner break the course record in those conditions? In full: As everyone else has said: thanks must go to the marshalls for their sterling efforts in the horrible conditions.
My first 20 mile race, more undulating than I was expecting but nothing too bad... I actually enjoyed it.
I thought that, given the conditions (torrential rain beforehand forcing closure of the main car park and then the rain on the day forcing everyone inside the tiny hall) the organisers did a great job. With regard to the walk back from the finish, we were warned about it on the joining instructions and there's not a lot they can really do about it. Perhaps, given the conditions, a warm drink at the finish would have been a nice touch, but that would have been a tough thing to arrange at short notice.
There was no queue for the portaloos (undoubtedly due to the rain) - and amazingly no queue for a massage afterwards (thanks very much to the masseuses for ensuring I could walk the next day!).
A good t-shirt and cakes at the end.
All in all - a great race, deliberately well placed to catch the FLM crowd, it even fit perfectly into my schedule for the Bungay Black Dog Marathon.
Thanks to Gloucester A.C. and all their helpers! Date of review: March 6, 2007
In short: Still a great race, but I was expecting something special. In full: Having first run this race last year (setting a PB by 3 minutes) I was really looking forward to returning for 2006 - especially as it was to be the 25th anniversary and so likely to have a "little something special" about it.
I didn't set a good time (6 and half minutes slower than last year) but that's due to my own lack of preparation (and Cardiff the previous week) rather than the race or Stroud's organisation.
Several people have complained/commented that the course is not flat. Well, it's hardly hilly either, is it? Undulations keep it interesting and, I find, make the course quicker than a completely flat race (in which the mind wanders and the pace drops off). The support and marshalling was generally very good - no complaints from me & thanks to all concerned.
I didn't have a problem with the water stations, but then I don't tend to take on a great deal during a half marathon (unless it's hot - which it definitely wasn't!).
I did have a problem with the lack of T-shirts. Although the special 25th anniversary medals are nice, as far as medals go, I'd prefer a T-shirt any day as it's actually useful (just what can you do with a medal?). Admittedly, after finishing I stopped to get my breath, rehydrate and grab a quick free massage (a great touch, should be available at every event!!) before setting off to buy a commemorative T-shirt... but they'd run out and there was probably still half the field to come in. The organisers knew how many runners there would be - what proportion did they think WOULDN'T want a "25th anniversary" T-shirt?
I'd like to say "thanks" to Sara at RaceAhead who was very helpful when my running number didn't arrive and was able to sort me out a map in advance and number/chip collection on the day. Cheers!
Back to my "25th Anniversary = something special" thought... well I'm sure I'll be back for another crack at the PB, but this year's race, sadly, won't stick in the memory (unless of course I dig out the medal and, er... wear it around the house? Just what DO people do with the things?). Date of review: October 24, 2006