In short: Perfect way to test your marathon training In full: This was my first time running this race, but I knew the organisation would be great as I've run Bacchus the past two years, and Spitfire didn't disappoint! The 20 miler is two laps around the course. I found the first 2.5 miles in the aerodrome quite boring, but once we left and headed into the surrounding villages and country lanes, the scenery definitely picked up! The weather was utterly gorgeous, the marshals were super friendly, and everything was clearly signposted. Others have commented on the hills, but I found the course to be undulating at best - certainly nowhere near as hilly as Bacchus or my usual long run route through Hampstead Heath. Getting to the start from London via public transport was a bit tricky - train to Guildford then a £20 cab to the aerodrome, but that was the only real downside for me. Otherwise a fantastic run which was really just a great supported training run with a medal and chocolate bar at the end! Date of review: March 17, 2014
In short: Challenging course & poorly organised, but certainly friendly In full: Let's start with my expectations - for £20 and a new half marathon, I wasn't expecting much.
The good - easy to get to, plentiful water & toilet stops, good support, good goodie bag, and friendly marshalls
The bad - a two lap course is always going to be mentally challenging (especially when 10k runners share the narrow pathways) and the scenery out in West Ham/Stratford is never pretty but did they SERIOUSLY have to run the course over a freaking sewage treatment plant to rub our noses in it??!
There were multiple out & back sections which allowed me to high-five multiple friends running this, but got very tiresome on the second lap ("good god, where is that Bow roundabout?")
The marshalls weren't effective at stopping cheating half marathon runners from cutting the course short at the 10k race turnaround, which just makes me sad for the state of the people cheating, frankly. A chip checkpoint at the half marathon turning point could've easily solved this (there were others along the routes).
The bag drop - good god this was the worst organised one I've ever seen! One enormous (1hr+ for some people) queue to drop it off (instead of, say, a separate queue for each start zone) made a lot of people actually miss the start. There's no reason for this, as each of us already had a numbered tag on our bags and just needed to drop it off. Likewise, on collection there was no rhyme or reason for where the bags were placed, so many of us were invited to just come and root around for ours. Hardly secure.
I'm really hoping that the organisers will improve this in future years, though. Fingers crossed they'll do away with the double laps and route it through the Olympic Park when it reopens, and train their bag drop staff better. Even though the 10 race has been going for 5 years, I think they were caught out by the huge increase in participants the half marathon brought. I, for one, would pay a tenner more for a better route and organization! Date of review: April 17, 2013
In short: Friendly, well-organised trail race with a party atmosphere In full: It was hot & hilly, yes! It was also the friendliest, best marshalled, and best organised race I've ever run - way better than some of the large urban races. There was no goodie bag at the end, but a medal, technical tee, free drink, & hog roast beats a granola bar and sachet of joint cream hands down any day! The marshals along the course were some of the cheeriest I'd ever encountered, the trails were excellently marked in orange paint, and runners were really looking out for each other and others using the footpaths.
I was really wary of the No Headphones clause, but it really meant I ended up talking to other runners more, even finishing the last 2 miles with a new friend and giving the spectators a thrilling neck-and-neck sprint finish! The fancy dress costumes also made a nice icebreaker, and meant the spectators along the course could more easily offer encouragement (names were written quite small on our bibs). I also loved that the start & finish line were more of a big village fete atmosphere, with picnics and cheering going on for hours after runners finished. My non-running husband enjoyed this race as much as I did, which is no mean feat. I also loved that the race organiser personally shook the hand of every finisher as they came across the line, which is such a wonderful touch. I'd run this race again in a heartbeat, even with those killer North Downs hills! Date of review: September 10, 2012
In short: Superbly organised new 10k through the heart of London In full: Despite the downpours, the inaugural 10,000 went very smoothly despite the spectators being kept away by the rain. The course was brilliant with the exception of the %£@$%£$!!!@ cobblestones in Leadenhall Market which were very very slippery when wet. Got to take in all the touristy sites of London, and despite being overtaken by thousands of runners for the entire race (and I had a respectable 51min finish), I really enjoyed myself and will be back next year (hopefully with the sun!). Date of review: May 27, 2008
In short: Friendly jaunt round the park despite the weather In full: The wet, cold and windy weather certainly didn't dampen the spirits of the overly friendly marshals! The routes for the (sometimes overlapping) 3k and 8k routes were very well marked and we were given a very enthusiastic start and finish and encouragement all the way along. Only one water point for the 8k, but there were km markers the whole way, and some juice and sweets and a teeshirt for all runners. No official timing, though, so I'm glad I had my own timer going! Reading last year's comments, it looks like they really took them on board and fixed the marshalling problems as they were great this year! Date of review: March 17, 2008
In short: Terrible organisation and few spectators but a great route In full: The organiser's website gave errors at every turn, they ran out of medium teeshirts so I got a 10k 2006 shirt instead(??). When we arrived at the start the promised toilets were nowhere to be found and the one poor women station at the help desk wasn't an organiser and had everything heaped upon her with no one answering her calls. The baggage check people showed up only 15 minutes before the start, and the race itself started 5 minutes early. There were no km markers for the 5k route (so we saw a "7km" sign at about 2km in with no markings for us). There were few spectators at that time in the morning, and the ones that were there weren't kept off the road by the stewards - I had to shout at some stupid woman crossing the street to avoid a collision in the middle of the race! All that being said, I had the course pretty much to myself and I recorded a PB - I think, as there were no posted times and it was just my memory as I crossed the finish line! No water along the route for the 5kers, either, as they kept all the bottles for the 10k runners until after the finish line, when we finally got a drink! Date of review: July 2, 2007