In short: An outstanding race day experience in all aspects In full: I competed in this race with my wife who had ran the previous year's race with a club mate and had lots of good things to say about the event. We had both been disappointed with our times in the Vienna Marathon clocked earlier this year, and were seeking to make amends on home soil. Having competed in 9 previous marathons across the UK and Europe, I would have to rate Chester as being up there with the very best. Large enough to feel like a real "event", but small enough to still care, the race was superbly organised at all major touch points. Other reviewers have mentioned that the race is clearly organised by runners for runners, and based on my experience I heartily concur. All taking place in glorious sunshine(and how lucky were we all with that given the shocking weather of 2012?), the support throughout from the marshalls and the public was outstanding. Spectator numbers were never huge at any point on what was admittedly a largely rural course, but what they lacked in numbers they more than made up for in volume of encouragement. Having my name on my number was a thoughtful touch, as it was so lovely to hear your name called out, especially when I was flagging badly in the last couple of miles. I have had a number of really unsatisfactory experiences after the finish line, hunting for a drink (a really heinous crime by organisers) and having to track down where medals/tee shirts etc could be collected. Not so at Chester, this critical aspect of the event really did stand out as being smooth, easy and highly effective, which is what you so badly need at the end of a distance that takes no prisoners. My wife stated on numerous occasions that she should see how feedback from the previous year had been taken on board, so well done again for not only inviting feedback, but then actually being bothered to listen to it. Oh yes, and we both achieved PB's that we are absolutely thrilled with! I usually say life is too short to race the same marathon more than once, but Chester might have just made me change my mind - it was that good. I have no hesitation in recommending it most warmly to beginner and veteran alike. There's something for everybody. I sense this event will only grow in popularity, but please please never let it get so big that it loses the special qualities that made it stand out in the first place. Well done all involved! Date of review: October 8, 2012
In short: An excellent race In full: Brilliantly organised, brilliantly marshalled. Every year, this race just gets better and better. Unbelievably generous goody bag. A true "feel good" race that I'd encourage anybdoy to enter. Date of review: November 7, 2009
In short: An arduous but rewarding experience In full: I'll start with all the positives (there where plenty). This is an excellent value for money race, and with the inclusion of a great technical T shirt (but see below) and a nice medal, you'd struggle to find anything better for the giveaway price of 15 quid.
Anglesey is a beautfiul place, and this event showcases its charms delightfully - particularly in the first half of the course. There was warm and enthusiastic support from the locals, and having Colin Jackson dishing out the gongs at the end is a special touch.
Nidd Valley Road Runners (my club) had a large turnout for both the Full and Half, and it was nice to hear the tannoy announcer allude to this as we all crossed the finish line. With 4 of us debuting at this distance, and two others clocking PB's (Lord Knows how on such a challenging course), the event will hold a special place in all of our memories.
I would just add a couple of comments which I'm sure will be taken in the constructive spirit they are intended from someone who would love to see this race continue to flourish. We were told at Registration that the technical T was only available in a Large size. Fine for me, but not so for more diminutive runners who will miss out on the chance to run in a garment that is way too big for them. This also reduces the amount of "free" publicity the organisers attract from a runner acting as a de facto sandwich board for the next couple of years. (By the way, we discovered later that evening that a couple of us had been given Medium shirts, so not sure how that happened).
Whilst doing their job adequately (and bless all volunteers who turn out to man all races), not many of the marshalls had too many smiles or words of encouragement. I'm not saying you have to wear a funny hat, blow up balloons,hug me as I'm passing and swear your undying love, but a cheery smile and a hearty "looking good, keep going" can be a real tonic for the weary marathoner.
If the event wants to continue to differentiate itself, it may also be worthwhile making additional refreshments available at Drinks Stations...banana/orange slices etc. Little touches again, but they mean a lot. At an entry price this reasonable, I'm sure most runners wouldn't begrudge a couple of extra quid for a bit more. The quality of the Pre-Race pack also left a little bit to be desired. I'll probably get into trouble with the moderator if I mention brand names, but I also think there is another well known alternative to the energy drink provided that anecdotal feedback and personal experience suggests is palatable to more runners (I stand to be corrected - one man's poison is another man's meat and all that, but hey, it's still just about a free country).
As I say, constructive comment only. So many things about this gorgeous race are right, and whilst I'm in the school that says life is just too short to run any marathon twice, I'd commend this event to anybody - and will certainly be visiting The Sacred Isle again. Date of review: September 22, 2008
In short: An unforgettable race In full: Alnwick Harriers are to be congratulated for making the most of the natural elements at their disposal and hosting one of the more memorable events it has been my pleasure to take part in. Myself and 10 of my clubmates from Nidd Valley Road Runners made the trip up to Northumberland, and we were all so pleased we did. The event was well organised, marshalled efficiently with good water stops, and the quality technical tee at the end is one of the better (and certainly the most useful) mementoes I've received. The scenery throughout was very special, the glorious vista on the approach to Dunstanburgh Castle being a real highlight, and the novelty of a start and finish on two beautiful beaches really helped showcase the scenic grandeur which Northumberland can boast. If you've ever blubbed over the start and end sequences in "Chariots Of Fire" - this race is your opportunity to pretend you are Harold Abrahams or Eric Liddle - if only in your dreams. If you are reading this review - simply sign up for next year's event and see what I mean. I'll certainly be going back for some more. Very, very special indeed. Date of review: July 20, 2008
In short: Well organised and well marshalled race. Fast and Flat! In full: Well done Pock Runners - we had a grand day out at this event. 7 of us achieved PB's, which proves the great PB potential of the fast course. See you next year! Date of review: February 24, 2008
In short: Well organised event worth doing once or for PB In full: Had a good day out at this event with my wife. Both of us did the Half, and we both got PB's. Result! The organisation on the day was very good, excellent tents with stuff you might actually want to buy (we did), plentiful toilets (other events PLEASE take note) and generally helpful marshalls on hand. Course itself was not really memorable - typical city centre fare, although the crowd support throughout was very good. The finish area was well organised, and you felt quite special at the end. Constructive criticism just relates to the entry cost and the poor quality goody bag. I think most runners would expect more for £23.50. And I'm glad I didn't do the marathon reading some of the reviews. Not a race I'd do again, but nice to try once to see what it's like, had a grand day out and thanks for the PB. Oh yes - well stocked and manned water stations throughout where much appreciated. Date of review: September 17, 2007
In short: Another superbly organised race in the fantastic Lakes! In full: Travelled across for this event early on a wet Saturday morning at the end of a long, difficult and stressful week at work. Result? Work cares banished as I lapped up the atmosphere of this truly gorgeous event! It's runs like this that keep me running. Uplifting, life-affirming. Devotees of the Lakeland series will need no further persuading because they've already been converted. If you are reading this as an unbeliever, sign up next year and make sure you do this race and the other 3. I've done them all for the first time this year, and am thrilled to have done so. They've got pretty much evertything: stunning scenery, great camaraderie and slick organisation. Oh yes, and on this occasion, some of the country's top trail/fell/cross country runners also participating. What other sport can offer you the chance to compete in the same event with that sports elite? 90 minutes with Beckham et al? Face Shane Warne at Lord's? Nah, don't think so. The organisers deserve praise for attracting such talent, and this should help get these events even firmer on the map than they already are. Well done. Counting off the days to Coniston. Date of review: September 2, 2007
In short: A cracking race with tremendous scenery In full: Had a hugely enjoyable day out at this race. Rare sunshine this year really made the event, and the views across Wensleydale were stunning. A testing course in places, but would say it was accessible for any club runner to tackle as a first trail race. Will back be back for more next year. Date of review: July 29, 2007
In short: A great race, well organised, stunning scenery In full: Having dipped my toes into trail racing at Hawkshead, Garburn felt like i'd dived full in! A superb course with some breathtaking views, varied terrain and great atmosphere. If you missed the first water stop, seems that some imbecile stole it overnight. Can I borrow your brain please, I'm trying to build an idiot? Certainly did not detract from my enjoyment of what was a life-affirming day out in some of the most stunning countryside imaginable. These races are well run events with a carnival atmosphere, and represent superb value for money. Oh yes, you might even wear the T-shirt down the pub rather than just save it for decorating. Well done all involved, and don't let the water morons get you down. Date of review: June 4, 2007
In short: A superb event with something for everyone In full: As my first go at "serious" trail racing, what better place to start than with this event? Everything about it was well nigh perfect. Great atmosphere at the start generated by the drum band, and well organised number collection in the start marquee. Course was never going to be easy in this part of the world, and I had some apprehension down a few of the downhill sections were you basically just trust to luck and your ankle support! But stunning views, and a real sense of enjoyment and camaraderie on the way round. I'll never forget the coffin trail. Finish area a little chaotic, and wasn't immediately clear where the water was (and sad to say it did run out at one point), but this is constructive comment and in no way detracts from my overall enjoyment of the event. I brought the family, and my two youngs boys had great fun on the climbing wall and were chuffed to win medals in the fun run (which was a great event to watch the kids). Organisers should be praised for the podium presentations at the end where they really did generate a homely, "feelgood" atmosphere. Can't believe how some parents can take their kids home before they had perhaps a once in a lifetime chance to be applauded for first/second/third place whilst stood on a medal podium. Unbelievable. Beat the traffic home, did you? Well done. Anyway, thanks to the other runners who couldn't be bothered to hang about....I won a great Falke jacket! Moral of the story - do this event, stay all day, bring your family, have fun. You'll be so glad you did. Thanks all for organising one of the toughest, but most enjoyable events I've ever taken part in. Deffo back next year. Roll on Garburn! Date of review: April 29, 2007