In short: Third year of doing this and it hasn’t been the same twice In full: I don’t know what hotline the organisers have to the weather gods but I spent the morning watching rain lash against my window, as I drove past the airport to get to the start I was almost washed away and when we started the sun was beating down and all was right with the world !!! Executed “plan A” for the first time this year, unfortunately this plan involved me getting to a point and making a decision on how to optimise the time left. Being a bloke this almost impossible for me so spent the last hour in a turmoil of self doubt (have I gone too far out? Will I get back with no unused checkpoints in sight with 20 minutes to spare? Do these shoes go with my nail varnish? That sort of thing) but all was well checking in @ 2:59 without having to kill myself to do so. I don’t know if it is me or the organisers are getting more sneaky in placing the “hidden” flags. Found none this year and, on seeing the completed map, realised I had passed within metres of several. Again a great big thank you to the team for organising what I’m sure will become a permanent fixture on the summer calendar along with Glastonbury, Glyndebourne and Henley.
In short: Second year just as good In full: Having learnt my lesson from last year I, at least, remained on the course for the whole 3 hours but still didn't "execute my plan" which is a large part of the appeal of this event that you constantly make judgments about your capabilities against your ambition. I was running alone but still experienced a great sense of fellow feeling as I made and dissolved alliances along the way. This is a personal challenge not a race as such and, consequently, everyone gets out of it exactly what they want / put into it (with a bit of interest in the form of the beer and band after). As I said last year this event would bring me back on its own merits however the fact that it is a fund raiser for Cystic Fibrosis just puts it on the top shelf.
In short: great race - like a grown ups playground In full: Really good as a different way of spending your Sunday. No chance of a fast 10k (haven't ever recorded over an hour before let alone 1:45!!!!! but the obstacles were what made the day. Obviously there were always going to be queues for stations but overall this was handled well except for the last but one "parquor" stage where I had a frustrating wait but was “cheered” to see it was twice as long by the time I left as when I joined. That there were only medium and small t-shirts available before the first wave set off didn't bode well for anyone large in the later waves (espetialy as you were obliged to wear them for the event). Excellent goodie bag with a somewhat eclectic selection of gifts – quite expensive but probably justified
In short: nothing but feelgood In full: This was my first time doing this event (3 hour run) and loved every crazy minutes of it. From the start when I was the only one heading in the direction I had planed then finding myself going the "wrong way" round the course (the best laid plans of mice and men) to my crazy stumble to get home "only" 30 minutes late because I had got seriously lost and started exploring off the map - well D'OH. The weather was superb and I suspect this would be a very different event if it had rained during the previous week or on the day. Everyone was most welcoming and the fact that it is a charitable fund raiser just adds to the sense that this is an event that has got it right. Well worth missing the Loins game for!!! Date of review: June 22, 2009
In short: Now that's what I call a chalenge In full: Excellent race only "spoiled" by the weather in the preceding weeks being too dry hence hard underfoot. Marvellous organisation (they even managed to get me a loan of pair of trainers because I'd left mine at home D'OH). T-shirt, beer and cake at the end for under a tenner to round off a great morning busting my bits getting up and down various ascents. For those of us "down the field" the 100 steps came a bit too soon as there was no chance of testing yourself on them with the queues (thank god). The second and third climb and falls (long steady up n' downs) are really excellent, a chance for us to sort ourselves out into mountain goats and road rats. The last hill is actually a bit silly but perfectly in keeping and a marvellous sense of achievement when it's over. I wonder what the fast runners think of this course as it must be incredibly difficult to judge your effort. Date of review: April 14, 2009
In short: brawn and brains what a concept In full: Unfortunate weather (pouring down in July) made the puzzle stages less enjoyable but a great idea allowing competitors to "rest" from running while solving the puzzles and, consequently, improving their overall finishing time. Some teething problems (first event of many I hope) but good comunication from organiser afterwords to ensure our concerns are heeded for the next time