In short: Much more hillier than I remember In full: I did the Richmond Park Marathon the first year of offering which was 2011 and apart from being an extremely well oiled event in lots of ways the route was easier. The organisers have made the route one tough cookie now with lots of hills, and with the sun out in full force today I personally found it hard going. I was hoping to get a new PB here today, but it wasn't to be as a dose of plantar fasciitis which has been crippling my progress of recent soon put paid to that idea. Still a great event though and I will be back no doubt. Date of review: May 5, 2013
In short: Hard as Nails!! In full: Fantastic event with excellent organisation and course marking. This ultra will make you ache in every place you haven't before. Lots of very steep Cotswolds hills to negotiate but some of the views and trails were fantastic and well worth going through the pain for. I'll be back and with the hope that I'll at least be able to run up some of the steepest. Would highly recommend to anyone thinking of testing and challenging themselves. Date of review: April 22, 2013
In short: Needs some improvements in the map dept. In full: Brilliant race only let down in my mind by the poor map. Once you get onto the Grand Union Canal its all pretty straight for 20 or so miles until you get to Little Venice but up until this point its very easy to go wrong. Lots of others were making similar mistakes too so I know it wasn't just me. A road book with a description may be better, a bit like the LDWA ones. The scenery through the bucks countryside was fantastic and muddy but I loved it as I train on this sort of stuff all the time. The scenery along the canal becomes a bit more industrial and less impressive but very hard on the feet as I had trail shoes on so felt every stone and bump. And did anybody else see that bush nicely decorated with used condoms, a real artistic talent there.
The checkpoints were great and the people manning them were in good humor as it was a very cold day to be standing around especially by the canal. It would also be nice to have a warm tent with heaters at the end as after such a long time next to the canal once stopped it felt very cold to be standing around by the canal edge. Would have been even more important if it had been raining or sleeting as it had been earlier that morning.
Its a race I would definitely do again as I think it will improve as the years go on and its also one of the best ultras you'll find so close to the back of the Xmas indulgences. Well done Go Beyond and Guy for making this happen. Date of review: January 13, 2013
In short: A tough marathon made even tougher!! But then it is Beachy Head In full: This was my fourth outing at BH and once again it had everything. Every year I come back as its one of my favorites and the weather and conditions each year are different too. This year we had minus temperature wind chill to contend with and wind so strong it could stop you in your tracks, but will I be back to see whats in store for next year? You bet. Date of review: October 27, 2012
In short: Fantastic 28 mile trail marathon!! In full: Did the full marathon again and this year it started from the football club so was in fact nearer 28 miles but as far as I'm concerned every mile on this course is great. It was too hot for getting anywhere near a PB as this was my 3rd time over this course but it was so hot that it was harder work than normal. Got very dehydrated for last 10 miles and so should have taken more water with me for the run. Great revamp of the football club and facilities there now. Once again this has to be one of the best value marathons anywhere and I'll be back. One thing I would like to see in the future is a medal or what ever we get to finish that distinguishes between whether we done the full, half or 20 as we all got the same buff. Date of review: September 10, 2012
In short: Amazing ultra - but not for feint hearted In full: I belong to the Trail Running Association that hold this event and it was my first time taking part in this mammoth undertaking. I've also done many other long distance ultras but this one will go down as one of the toughest. Fantastic event held and organised by the TRA which was faultless in nearly every way. The checkpoints were full of everything you could need to keep you going and everyone was very enthusiastic which helped at those night time stations.
The route was reasonably well marked most of the time when you were on track but when going through towns at night and in the rain were a little harder to negotiate and as a result nearly got lost a few times. I can understand why the organisers haven't produced a road book as the route is marked most of the way by small acorns on posts but this may be something to add for the future.
Brilliant in so many other ways though and I'll be back again. Date of review: August 27, 2012
In short: Fantastic event again from Rory and Jen In full: This was my first time doing this event and was well worth turning up for. Fantastic organisation from Rory and Jen and always so encouraging. The course despite having a downward elevation from 20-30 miles to finish at 50 miles was deceptive and took a hell of a toll out of legs and feet and I have done longer and felt better afterwards. Great finish and atmosphere coming into Sport Wales with lots of people cheering you in. Date of review: May 21, 2012
In short: Route description needs sorting but apart from that great event In full: I did the Sunday marathon as this still had spaces left. They had a go when your ready start which I always like and it had the feeling of a LDWA event through and through as getting round was all down to your own navigation skills through the route description they provided which is why this event probably wouldn't appeal to beginners new to marathon and cross country running. The scenery was a little dull in places but then was made up for in other areas. Perhaps a little too much tow path along the canals for my liking and tarmac also to which I can live without. Overall though this event was very well organised by Chris and co and I take my hat off to him for his enthusiasm every time I spoke to him and the little (or should I say massive) santa suit was a nice touch to which the kids will love.
My only real issue was with the route description as it took me the wrong way on several occasions and the gpx file for download wasn't very good either. It was good at one point to realise that it wasn't just me that spent ages looking for Manor Road when it was in fact Manor Drive, all this after 22 miles, but the route description had it down as Road and so the comedy continued. I did more like 28 miles in the end but being a seasoned marathon and ultra runner more used to LDWA events this was expected I suppose.
Once again well done to Chris for getting together this event and making it what it was. I hope it gets better for next year as would like to do it again but without the getting lost so much. Oh and congratulations to Merv for completing his 500th marathon today. Date of review: December 11, 2011
In short: I love this race, and those glorious hills, again!! In full: This is without doubt my favourite marathon of the year as its always guaranteed to put a smile on your face even when your body wants to give up. It has to be one of the hardest marathons on the calender bar none as its relentless hills (not little ones either) and final climbs over the Seven Sisters and Beachy Head are thoroughly testing even for the hardest fellow. Finishing always brings about a major sense of relief and euphoria more than any other that I know including most ultras too. I always love the jacket spud, sausage and beans at the end which is always a great finishing touch and this year they also had For Goodness Shakes on hand for recovery which for me personally I love.
The only thing I would like to say to the organisers is to get rid of the NEW chip timing as it isn't necessary for this type of race and if it was down to this that they didn't send the numbers out this year, to avoid costs spiraling, then get rid as the chaos surrounding collecting the numbers and chip timings at the start was chaotic and the only part of the organisation that was let down. If not I couldn't care less as this is one of my favorites and I'll always be back, for more punishment. Oh and maybe I'll be able to get over the Seven Sisters without having to walk the ups, just for once. Date of review: October 23, 2011
In short: Fantastic event with some of the best organisation ever In full: This was my first time to the Farnham marathon and also the North Downs. Whilst it didn't go up to Box Hill or some others of notable climbs it still had a lot of undulations and some really hilly sections too. I didn't find it as hard as I expected but then I'm more used to doing the Lakes or South Downs which are much hillier. One of the most notable hills was in fact right at the end coming up to the finish line, which of course felt a lot harder after just finishing 26 miles. As for the organisation, you won't find better. Everything from the water stops (every 2-3 miles at least) to the route markings (faultless). The organisers even spray painted orange all the ruts and roots and anything you might trip up on through the wooded sections, brilliant. Some of the route would be very hazardous to try at night as there was so much you could in fact trip on. There were also parts of the course that slowed you down a bit to get a rest as single file was the only way through with others in front. The value for money by doing this event was amazing as for the entrance fee they gave you a medal and t-shirt and goodie bag with a bandana also included, you won't find better, I'll be back. Date of review: September 19, 2011