In short: Fun, fun, fun In full: I signed up for this quite quickly after enjoying last autumn's event so much. Thought it was quite evil of them to switch the starting loop before entering the forest but I suppose that's what Hellrunner is all about. Despite their best, or most evil efforts, the only claim (hillier, muddier etc etc) they didn't or couldn't succeed with was that the previous event was more muddy - and that was simply due to the incredibly glorious weather we're enjoying recently.
In addition to the amazing goody bag, I also got a free hat since some guy asked me before the start if I'd mind wearing one of Salomon's hat instead of my own for the race - which was nice.
The only drawback for me was that I twisted my ankle when I was coming down from the very last hill next to the finish area.
I'm still finding mud on me... Date of review: May 1, 2007
In short: No big problems with the organisation for me - I'm sure event organisers live and learn like the rest of us... In full: As I had become over-anxious about having no race-pack, I had a chat with Alan Rothwell on the phone a couple of weeks before the race. He told me that there would be no t-shirts as it would be a choice between providing t-shirts (which would have gone to the back of my drawer) or a free shuttle bus service. I know which I wanted, and got.
After studying the pre-race info, and reading concerns on the various threads about the lack of water stations, I decided to use my Camelbak in the race rather than depend on the water stations (sipping little and often seems to suit me anyway). Beacuse of this, the issue regarding the lack of water didn't affect me personally.
I really enjoyed the race itself, and the variation in the course between this year and last meant that we ran past the halls of residence that I lived in during my first year at the University of Liverpool, which was nice. The only downside was the fact that this meant an extra hill on the otherwise mostly flat course!
All in all, I was very happy with the race, although having a dose of the flu and a few colds during training meant that I couldn't meet my own expectations. Another enjoyable visit to Liverpool, and I'll look forward to my next visit. Date of review: April 9, 2007
In short: First time doing this kind of thing - definitely not the last though! In full: Really enjoyed this race, and will be bookmarking it for next year.
Becasue the tracks and trails were so narrow, there were a lot of bottle-necks which were great for a sneaky (and welcome) walking break! The bogs, mud and streams were also fun and the camaraderie all the way round was great with everybody lending a hand to drag somebodyu up and out of the bogs and streams.
I suppose the only disappointment was they'd run out of t-shirts on the day so I have to wait for Postman Pat to bring mine, and that the devil woman didn't stick around until I finished! Date of review: October 30, 2006
In short: Fantastic day out, but a bad run for me this time... In full: Although I had a white number and took 30mins to cross the start line, I didn't feel that impeded by the people in front of me walking from the start and there seemed to be plenty of room. Or at least more room than I remember from 2004.
I do think that there is some room for improvement yet again with the start, but then again, it's going to be almost impossible to devise a plan that will satisfy 50,000 competitors and let them all have a clear path to South Shields, so this event will probably continue to be a giant fun run for most of us non-elite athletes.
Once again the local people did themselves very proud, the young and the not-so-young lining the entire route during some very changeable weather, with their support and enthusiasm unfaltering. Experiencing this encouragement, generousity (sweets, biscuits, ice pops and drinks gioven out by local residents) and party atmosphere alone is worth the slightly high entry fee.
I definitely hope to be back next year to go through it all again, and hopefully have a better run next time. Date of review: October 4, 2006
In short: Great 10k race - I think I'll wait a while before trying the marathon though... In full: Fantastic organisation by Menter Mon, with very clear pre-race information packs and plenty of room to spread out the various areas in the runner's area to avoid confusion. Very friendly and helpful volunteers and marshalls everywhere.
I did this race for the first time as my final preparation for the Great North Run, and because I see it as one of my local races as I live about 20mins away - albeit on the mainland!
Since I occasionally work from Mona, I was pretty familiar with the course so roughly knew where the undulations were which was a help as I could tell myself that this is the last little uphill bit and it's all downhill from here etc! This helped me get a new PB for 10k and I was able to finish strongly.
The race organisers very generously gave all 10k runners a £1 food voucher, although I did go for the hog roast instead, and the medal was very nice too.
There were also added bonuses of time passing very quickly and somebody in Gwalchmai cooking up a lovely Sunday lunch! Would hope to do this again every year, unless of course I've taken leave of my senses and graduated up to the big boys marathon (hats off to everyone who did that, by the way).
The other event taking place on the showground for the rest of the family was also a nice touch, as was the celebrity guest Colin Jackson. Date of review: September 25, 2006
In short: Mostly flat, beautiful scenery - shame about the wind! In full: Although I travel to work in Caernarfon, I rarely get to savour the beauty and tranquility that can be found on the other side of the river Seiont. Absolutely cracking route, but as it is on the coast the wind can whip in a bit as was the case today.
The first 4kms were really hard pushing into the wind, and it took a lot out. A little while after the 4km marker, the route cut inland and back towards Caernarfon through Llanfaglan which brought some welcome relief from the wind.
Despite the high winds and walking a bit near the Bryn Seiont hospital, I did manage to beat my PB by about half a minute so it can't be that bad.
The race itself was very reasonably charged, and all finishers were awarded a commemorative slate coaster. The drawing of the race route provided with the race pack was a little bit difficult to read (the text especially) but was still legible - that's the only "fault" I could think of in relation to the race.
All in all, very enjoyable. Date of review: September 3, 2006
In short: 2nd half-marathon - enjoyable enough without a PB In full: This was the first time I'd run in Liverpool - despite spending 4 years at university here. I really enjoyed the race despite a suspect stomach for much of the first half (I did fear a Paula Radcliffe moment before spotting the portaloos at 7 miles!), and found Parliament Street not too bad at my plodding pace.
My only other attempt at this distance (Great North Run 2004) finished in 2:00:56, and I didn't expect to get close to that as I hadn't been training as maniacally this time. I also hadn't ran outside as muich as I'd liked although I did do a few 10k races along the way this time. So, all in all, I was just pleased to get round without walking in 2:14:17 and now have something to build towards.
I thought the whole day was well organised, though. Any lack of signs for the city centre parking didn't really affect me, as my running friend brought his sat-nav with him. Plenty of drinks along the course and the marshalls were very encouraging, as were the spectators. One of my highlights was a lady at the top of the Parliament St hill encouraging us all up the hill - she was incredibly enthusiastic (possibly mad as anything too?) and managed to raise a smile. No real concerns over the XL t-shirts from this L chunky monkey, and the very nioce medals reminded me a little of Jim'll Fix It badges!
I think my only complaint (or closest thing to a complaint) was that the band at the turnaround in town were miming!!!
Really hope to be back next year to improve on my time. Thanks to everybody involved in making it such a successful day. Date of review: March 21, 2006
In short: Quite a pleasant race. No showers available afterwards a bit disappointing In full: I had been a bit apprehensive about this race after the snow we had last week, and was in two minds whether to run right up until I arrived in sunny Farndon, since I drove through rain and snow showers en route.
I only entered as part of my preparation for the Liverpool half-marathon in a fortnight, and was therefore a bit wary of the few remaining patches of snow and ice along the course.
Glad I made the effort though as my time of about 58 and a half minutes was a PB and my first sub-60 time in 4 attempts at the distance (I came in at 1:00:01 in my last 10k a fortnight ago). I can therefore recommend this one for anybody looking for a PB - if I can do it...
The only real disappointment was that there were no showers or changing facilities available as advertised - a bit of a pain with an hour's drive home. The medal wasn't the nicest in the world, but then again, I'm sure very few of us compete for the momentoes - the PB was more than enough for me!!! Date of review: March 6, 2006
In short: Very nice race but shame about the cold weather (at least it didn't rain)! In full: I did this race as part of my preparation for the Liverpool half-marathon, and I'm glad I made the two-hour drive down from North Wales for it. It looked like a very prestigious event with the chip timing and the tarted up finish area - most impressive.
I was also very impressed with the cracking medal and it was a very nice touch to have the entrants' names on the back of the t-shirt.
The running shop marquee was also a blessing as I was able to pick up a pair of gloves since I'd left mine at home!
The course itself was a bit dull. It felt a bit bizarre to be running through the housing estate (at times it felt as if we were going through people's back gardens), and the burnt out car made me laugh before I had to make my way over the foam. Luckily, all the fast runners in front had tread a path through it!
I think an overnight stay would be the way forward if I come back next year! A very nice day all in all though, and a lovely hot shower at the gym near the end. Marvellous... Date of review: February 21, 2006
In short: Very challenging - glad to finish in the end In full: I was persuaded to enter this race by a friend, and decided to combine the race with a weekend of visiting friends to make the 200 mile trip from North Wales worthwhile.
As this was only my third ever race, I did start wondering what I'd let myself into about halfway up the Big Dipper, and my lungs were ready to burst by the time I got to the top. The bottle-neck and resulting delay at the top was a bit of a godsend, but not really enough of a rest as I didn't get settled into my running until after I'd walked up the golf course hill!
All in all, quite enjoyable once I'd got the two big inclines out of the way and the stream crossings were very cold. The first one was shallow enough for you to practically run along the river bed, but the final two were significantly deeper and seemed a lot colder - I was really looking forwards to my soup by this time!
I did ask myself why after I crossed the finish line, but I don't think it'd take too much persuasion to get me back down south again next year... Date of review: December 19, 2005