In short: Did I do a different race ? This was brilliant ! In full: I finished the race thinking that I had just participated in the most well organised race of my life (except maybe the Saffron Walden 10K that I help to organise). It was only after reading the reviews that I became aware of any problems.
Plumbing - The public loos were open at Hackney before I boarded the coach and there were a couple of different lots in the pavilion at St Margarets, so they seemed adequate to me.
Queues - I grabbed a cup of tea and sat in the warm and chatted to my fellow runners while the registration queue died down. There were less than 200 runners and these were split into 3 alphabetical sections, so really how long were the queues ?
Delay – The start was delayed. Sometimes these things happen.
Marshals – They were outstanding. Considering they were stood alone for so long with so few runners going by, I was congratulated and urged on by every one of them.
Crowds – The crowds were sparse, but I think they made up for that with their personalised support.
Drinks - There was so much water and energy drink available and having it in bottles was really handy especially late on in the race.
Route - The course was great. I really liked the wetlands of Broxbourne. Undoubtedly it got harder, but I never found it boring. The markers were perfect so even someone with an inept sense of direction as myself could not possibly get lost.
Final mile - I concur with other reviewers that the final mile or so was torture. You enter Hackney Marshes, you see the finishing area, you get to about 150M of the finish line, then you are diverted for a circuit of the playing fields.
Finishing area - The tannoy announced my name and time and I was quickly wrapped in a foil blanket and given a goody bag (fantastic teddy bear & a waterproof swimming bag) by yet more friendly marshals.
Baggage reclaim – No queue at the truck
I reflected that my £ 23.00 had given me participation in a full ‘point to point’ marathon, a goody bag with an £ 8.00 teddy and a warm glow knowing that I had contributed to the worthy cause of Parents for Children.
I am immensely grateful to the organisers and wish them every success in the next 4 years.
In short: This is what other race organisers should aspire to In full: The race was tough. The hardest opening mile I've ever known, followed by a brief respite before that amazing hill at 9K. The subsequent downhill was treacherous. What a fantastic course.
Took on water at the start, 8K, 16K and the end, so I didn't even notice that one water station was missing.
The finish area was brilliant with the stalls, food, Kendal mint cake, free soup, beer tent, live music, commentary, bouncy castles, face painting, climbing wall, ice-cream, drummers, free t-shirt, spot prizes etc. It was great for the kids to have so many people around for their fun run.
It is impressive that the organisers had certainly put increasing everyone's enjoyment over increasing their profit.
Most scenic race in the UK ? Not sure, I was too busy gasping for breath or looking down to see where my next footstep would land.
Although it takes 4½ hours to get there and even longer coming back, we will definitely be back for another one of the series next year. Date of review: June 4, 2007
In short: Simply one of the highlights of the year In full: Fantastic organisation by March AC. Tremendous race in testing conditions. Glad I didn't opt for the 4th leg along the flooded road & exceptionally muddy tracks.
Already getting a team ready for next year. Date of review: November 27, 2006
In short: Features the fastest final mile you could wish far In full: Small & friendly charity run. Easy parking, great marshals, changing facilities, medal, water etc.
Two weeks of rain meant that the bridlepath was muddy and one of the fields was water-logged, otherwise I would have got a much faster time. Nevertheless, the incredibly super-quick final mile enabled me to record a PB Date of review: June 5, 2006
In short: Highlight of the year so far. In full: 13/23/25 mile versions if you can read a map and follow directions, longer if you are as inept as me.
As long as you don't take the race too seriously and accept that you will probably take a wrong turning or two, then it is a fantastic race mainly on footpaths, disused railway lines and canal towpaths.
I saw a lot of Cambridge that I didn't know existed Date of review: March 7, 2006