In short: The racecourse gets no easier! In full: This was the second time that I have run Cheltenham's half marathon and overall I had a positive experience.
Some improvements I would suggest to make this race even better in 2015:
1. Provide significantly more toilets. There were woefully few for the number of runners and queues moved very slowly.
2. Providing an untested sugary drink at mile 9 was a mistake. Better to have put it in the goody bag where it would have met with a more appreciative audience.
3. The promised "musical furore" did not materialise. The drummers on the racecourse were good and the Heart folk as enthusiastic as ever, but there is scope for much more entertainment along the route, especially in the racecourse.
Conditions were much better this year and encouraged lots of runners to linger at the end, which made for a great post-race atmosphere.
The course is definitely more challenging in the second half but it's my hometown half and I'd definitely do it again.
In short: Consistently excellent event In full: This is the fourth time I've done this race. While the weather has occasionally been flaky - not this year! - the organisation is superb and the event always runs like clockwork. Lots of friendly marshals out on the course. Well done Tewkesbury AC! Date of review: November 3, 2013
In short: Good mental preparation for a Spring marathon In full: I would echo the previous runner's comments. The three lap run is good mental preparation for a Spring marathon as is what is quite an undulating course. A low-key race (especially the start) but most people seemed to be using it as a training run and seemed happy to chatwhich added a bit of life relief. The coach back to the school was appreciated and the driver was very cheery. One minor grumble: I signed up late and assumed I would need to pick up my number on the day. However, my number arrived in the post, which was good. Unfortunately, the organisers had not used the correct postage which meant I had to pay another £1.22 which I didn't appreciate. I thought this had only happened to me but it also happened to at least two of my clubmates so I imagine other runners were affected too. Date of review: March 18, 2012
In short: Better the second time around! In full: Having done this race last year I was prepared -mentally, if not physically - for the steep uphill start, undulating two lap run through the woods and mad crazy downhill finish. Although a tough race, it is very friendly and the marshalls were all encouraging and supportive. Excellent race organisation, shame about the lack of tea and homemade cakes at the end this year as this is the only race I know where you get your post-race cuppa in a lovely china mug! For me, this is a 'better the devil you know' race which I enjoyed more this year than last, topped off by an impressive results service (immediately after the race and posted on the website in double quick time).
I would definitely do this race again. Well done Stroud AC! Date of review: August 14, 2011
In short: Good training for a Spring marathon In full: A few of us made the journey from Gloucestershire for this race on the recommendation of a club member who ran it last year and it was well worth the drive. The start was about as low key as it gets and the two laps at the start less than ideal (but entirely understandable from a cost of policing point of view) but the organisation, information on the website, standard of marshalling and technical t-shirt were excellent and the course a good tester for Spring marathon potential. Results were available on the website by the evening, which is always appreciated. So glad that the finish was as it was and that we didn't have to do a lap of the car park at the end! Congratulations on a job well done San Domenico! Date of review: March 21, 2011
In short: Muddy good fun In full: Having rather foolishly done a 15 mile training run the previous day, this was always going to be a tad challenging for me, but the weather cooperated and there didn't seem to be quite as much mud as last year. That said, it is still one of the toughest off-roaders in Gloucestershire but it is flawlessly organised and an absolute bargain. Let's hope that it doesn't go all corporate next year when the organiser, Mike Wood, hands over the reins to Black Sheep Sports.
Incidentally, Mike Wood - the man with the lovely smile - is no mean runner when he pulls his trainers on! See this link to his sub 24 hour run along the entire length of the Cotswold Way last year:
http://www.nationaltrail.co.uk/cotswold/article.asp?PageId=41&ArticleId=60 Date of review: February 9, 2011
In short: Dancing on ice! In full: I was very disappointed when this race was cancelled due to bad weather last year as it's a great way to start the new year.
Overall it's a very well organised and marshalled race and a good way to kick start a spring marathon campaign. The pre-race instructions were clear and covered all necessary points. I was particularly impressed by the provision of portaloos in the car park and at the start as race organisers so often get this important point wrong.
The course is straightforward with a few cheeky inclines. The runners were warned about the icy patches on the course - of which there were many! - at the start but perhaps some of the marshalls could have been more proactive where blackspots were identified, e.g. the treacherous patch of black ice at mile 3.
The woolly hat was a useful momento, but I'm not sure white was the best colour choice (sooooo unforgiving!)
One thing which I do find quite strange about this race is the fact that race HQ is so far from the start. I suppose that it's not really an issue as there's no prizegiving but it would be nice to have somewhere warm to stand and swap race stories over a cup of tea and slice of cake!
Overall a fine effort - well done Gloucester AC. Date of review: January 10, 2011
In short: Good sharpener for your Sunday roast! In full: The weather was much better than in 2009 and I thoroughly enjoyed the race again but I did find it less well organised than last year. Suggested improvements: 1. Giving numbers out in the hall works well but clearly post the categories A-D, E-J etc on the wall behind the desk, not on the desk itself to ease congestion. 2. Remove benches from the queuing area - they were dangerous. 3. Provide more toilets. 4. Make it clearer where the start is in relation to the school (not everybody knows this). 5. Order sufficient medals. 6. Use some sort of PA system so those of us at the back of the hall could hear the winners' names.
On the plus side, the post-race refreshments were superb as was the choice of momento and the atmosphere was very friendly. With a few refinements this could be a 10 out of 10 race.
In short: Fast and flat but deathly cold! In full: I thought this was an OK race but - at the risk of being a bit controversial - perhaps a tad over 10K this year? These details are important when you're looking to improve your PB! Solid organisation and a pretty route but more information about practical details such as the cost of parking and toilets should have been provided beforehand, especially as the machines in the village did not give change. Also, the starter needs a megaphone - couldn't hear a word he was saying! Liked the beanies - unusual and useful. Date of review: February 28, 2010
In short: Well organised and friendly 5 miles In full: First time I have run this race despite being local to Tewkesbury. No gripes, even the weather cooperated on the whole apart from being a tad blustery in places but heck, it is November! Giving numbers out in the gym worked well. As for the course, there are only one or two minor hills crossing the motorway, otherwise it's pancake flat which meant a PB for me. Very well organised and friendly, just the right amount of marshalls. It's obvious that this is a race organised by runners - there was even plenty of loo roll in the ladies, which is quite a rarity! Fab cakes and hot food at the end with a local celebrity dishing out the prizes. Lovely glass momento for all runners - everyone's a winner and a bargain at £6. Top marks Tewkesbury AC - I'll be back next year! Date of review: November 1, 2009