In short: Scenic forest race with added entertainment from canicross racers In full: This is an undulating off-road race on scenic forest tracks. The race was well attended, with friendly marshals and good support, and the canicross racers starting ahead of the main field provided extra amusement. The race used chip timing, and results and photos were available online very quickly.
Plenty of well-marshalled free parking was provided in a field at the forest edge. There were quite a lot of portaloos, and a Starbucks coffee stall had been set up to supplement the permanent caff.
We got a free t-shirt, and a goody bag including mineral water, a banana (nice and fresh and unbruised), a large chocolate coin, a Starbucks mug, a drinking bottle and a pedometer. No medal, and the goodies had only sponsors' logos - ideally I'd have liked something to connect them to the race.
Registration started more than an hour and a half before the scheduled race start, which was slightly delayed. Another time I would turn up later.
I couldn't hear announcements very well, or see the leader of the warm-up. I think lots of people had similar problems and the three races got a bit mixed up in the starting funnel.
The beginning of the race was slightly congested on the narrowish tracks, not helped by some groups running three or more abreast. Due to the prolonged dry weather, there were no puddles, but quite a dust cloud as more than 400 runners set off.
Personally, I found the lapped 10K race slightly psychologically challenging - I had to resist the temptation to cut it down to a 5K, and felt very slow when I was lapped by the front-runners of the half-marathon!
All-in-all though, it's a nice race, and I'd certainly consider doing it again. Date of review: April 18, 2011
In short: Big event in the dullest part of London's Docklands In full: (sprint distance)
This was my first race. We were the last wave of a cold, wet, windy, miserable day, starting at 17:00, and most spectators had gone home.
I found the swim among 100s of thrashing arms and legs utterly terrifying, but the canoe marshals were great. The transition area was huge, which makes it slow, but was well organised. The cycle route was pretty flat and fast with a few tricky bends, but the route was very dull. The run was a mostly flat fast non-scenic course right by Victoria Dock, ending inside the Excel Centre.
It wasn't a very spectator-friendly course. We went to see some of the Oly Distance Race the following day, and didn't find that very good for spectators, either.
Overall, organisation was pretty good, but slightly officious in places. There were plenty of official photographers, and a nice medal at the end. Chip timings were up on the website very quickly after the events. Photos took longer than advertised to appear, but I think they were reasonably priced, and there were videos of crossing the line, which was a nice touch.
I didn't like the setting of a huge conference centre, and don't think I'll be back, but I'm glad I did it, and expect to do more triathlons next year. Date of review: October 6, 2008
In short: Offroad race in scenic Surrey woods In full: This was my first ever running race.
The course was pretty much as I expected - some small areas of mud and puddles, and narrowish paths, but mostly pretty good forest tracks with quite a bit of up-and-down (about 170m ascent and descent according to Bikely) but nothing to stop me in my tracks.
It's a scenic course. Not stunning, but pleasant, and there were quite a few supporters out.
I was a bit nervous when I saw how many club runners and proper fit people there were, and wondered whether I'd bitten off more than I could chew. I started right at the very back of the starting funnel, rather than in the middle of the crowd.
We were started off by a Town Crier. The start was shared with the 5K race and was very slow and congested, but once the field had spread out a bit it got quicker.
My fears of finishing last were ungrounded. Obviously I wasn't quick, but was nowhere near the back - I think the winning male finished in under 35:00 and the last runner came in at about 1:26 Date of review: September 16, 2008