In short: Ever wanted to be treated like an elite athlete? Then do this race In full: I'm sure 17 laps around a cycle course in Gravesend isn't for everyone. It's green and pretty attractive, but it's not flat and by the seventeenth time the final slope appears to gone from molehill to Kilimanjaro.
But if you can get past that, there's a huge number of benefits to this race. No stress about baggage, or parking. As for drinks stations, there's one every lap, or you can even set up your own, with your own favourite drinks, and even get a friend to hand them to you.
Same goes for loos, and timing screens, while doing the laps breaks up the marathon into easier chunks, especially as your 'lap counter' bands are thrown away one by one.
So the laps shouldn't worry you. But what should make you outright eager to do this is that it's really, really well run.
For the cost of some 10ks, you get an exceptionally well organised race that makes everything but actually running the distance a breeze. Personalised numbers, bell rung when you're on your last lap, showboating zones, free photographs, lovely encouraging marshals, great medal, decent goody bag, the list goes on. For me, the biggest deal was being able to have a hot shower straight after the run. Heaven.
This is my third time doing this race, and I signed up for number 4 straight away. Laps? Boring? never...
In short: Definitely the best Marathon that starts in Greenwich! In full: second year I've done this, and enjoyed it just as much as the first time.
Yes, the course is hard - especially from about 18-30k, when you effectively run from the thames to th highest point in South London, with lots of sudden dips and steep climbs along the way, but that just makes the views all the more rewarding.
The marshals are great, and there's lots of aid stations with water, jelly babies, mini mars bars, biscuits the works.
The course is pretty well marked I think, but in places it can be confusing, as the actually green chain diverges, or the course doubles back on itself, or people move signs.
So my top tip - download a garmin course or mapmyrun course of the race to your Garmin/GPS device, and use it as a map, or in Garmin do it as a course. That way you won't have to rely on the (detailed but quite complicated) directions. You can find the mapymyrun version here:
and my garmin course bit is here - though I was actually a bit slower than this says last year!
Mind you, there's a possiblity New Eltham joggers won't do this race again - I hope they do, as it's a lovely, enjoyable run through a varied, interesting and rather scenic part of London that isn't at all well known. In many ways it's the perfect antidote to the crowded enormous beast that is the other Marathon that starts in the London borough of Greenwich, (which has its own great qualities too) Date of review: September 16, 2013
In short: A brilliantly organised, runner friendly race that deserves huge success In full: As a 17 lap race round a cyclopark in Kent, this race might not be for everyone, but it deserves to be. The benefits of having the race at the cyclopark are huge: you get cheap parking, a cafe on site, hot showers, lockers and even an icecream stall. More importantly, this is a superbly organised race; from the sensible bands to make sure you know how many laps you have to do, to the chance to have your own personal drinks station, the the FREE race photography. It's just a really runner friendly event.
As for the course itself, I found the laps really useful for breaking the race up into chunks. It's a pretty undulating course, I think, but nothing too evil, and the ups and downs cancel each other out. I also liked being able to see the quicker runners coming past, and there was enough stuff going on at the park (bmx competitions, scenery, supporters to never feel too bored. What's more, although there's not huge numbers of people supporting, you get to know the supporters and marshals, so they are really supportive. The marshalling overall is excellent, thanks especially to the lady encouraging us up the final hill throughout the race!
If I had to change one tiny thing it's that the water is in cups: but as you can have your own drinks that's pretty irrelevant. If you don't like cups, just bring your own!
Oh, and the medal is great, the atmosphere freindly and theI'll definitely be doing it again, and will look out for more races organised by the race directors. Date of review: June 1, 2013
In short: Hard course, lovely marshals, great fun In full: This was a totally different sort of race for me - 27 (and a bit!) miles, no closed roads, lots of trails and paths, lots of hills, steps, rises and finding your way through the woods, a small field of less than a hundred and absolutely no hope of a PB. It was brilliant, and I loved it.
The course was very well marked, and you get a detailed written guide but there are a couple of confusing points as I find it hard to think at my best while running. I'd created a course for my Garmin so I could follow a breadcrumb trail, which made it a lot easier, and I'd advise that for any other newbies.
The marshalling was superb, really friendly and helpful and lots of drinks, jelly babies and encouragement every 5 miles or so.
The course is hard, no lie. I found there were some steepish hills/steps where it felt quicker to walk than run, and couple of sharp downhills where i was checking my pace. and it's 27 miles. But you get rewarded by some lovely varied views around London, from thamesside to Shooter's hill and Oxleas Wood. Even running through Thamesmead was pretty interesting. Course lives up to it's name for greenery too - lots of horses, woods, meadows, parks.
Finally, it's an absolute bargain. For £15 you get a decently marked course, good medal a memnto ( a mug this year) lots of encourgement, water, squash, snacks) a start with showers and a bar, and lovely people cheering you on.
In short: Excellent event that will improve too! Makes a great " back-up" mara for spring mara runners In full: Really enjoyed this. The event was well organised, friendly and great medal.
I entered this not knowing what to expect - 17 laps of a new cyclo-park? Could be dreadful. I entered in part because the race director offered half price entries to people who'd had their original marathon cancelled, and this made me feel the event was run by people who cared about runners.
I wasn't wrong. The organisation on the day was excellent, the atmosphere friendly and the regularity and friendliness of the support more than made up for relative sparseness - some people felt like old friends by lap 17!
Speaking of laps, it was much less boring than I feared - being regularly overtaken meant there was always someone to see/chat too and the laps meant that there were no nasty surprises and you could break the race up into manageable chunks when you were struggling.
Room for improvement? Few minor things - the location is brand new and still bedding in - so next year I expect the landscaping/scenery will be better, and the venue (not race team) underestimated industrial quantities of loo paper runners get through pre-race! But it was great to have lockers, good showers and a cafe yards from the start.. Would def do again, and recommend to anyone looking for an alternative or a back up to a spring "city marathon"..
In short: superbly organised, friendly race with great marshalling In full: This was my first "small" (sub 1000 entry) half marathon, so I was a little unsure of what to expect - no clsed roads, having to run over tram tracks. I needn't have worried.
The Organisation was top notch, the marshalling outstanding, the lack of crowds meant more space to run than in big races, and vitally, the water was in bottle, which is so much easier to drink from (though bad for planet, I guess).
the course is reasonably pretty, but undulates. I noticed the downhills more than the up - I think you've basically got one long steady uphill for a mile or so, which is challenging, but than a really nice rewarding downhill.
Nice medal, bar open afterwards, great race. will def do again. Date of review: April 5, 2012
In short: Excellently organised, if a little exposed for windy November days. 9/10 In full: I thought this was a very impressively organised race, surprisingly scenic. It dies undulate, but noting traumatic and up followed by decent downs. A fast course, I think, though be warned - it is exposed and on a windy day you'll feel it!
I thought this was a great race and CONAC can be rightly proud of it. Excellent medal and goody bag too. The pre-race materials can sound a little officious, but that pays off in a race that runs very well.
If I had to make one suggestion it would be a switch to water bottles. I know they have issues, but in the wind, the cups were almost undrinkable if not stopping. However, I can totally understand the argt against.
Overall, a great race. Date of review: November 27, 2011
In short: tough-ish route, confusing start but fantastic support In full: I suspect the organisers were surpirsed by the appetitite for this half, judging by the traffic, car parking and start.
As a slower runner, made sure i was at the back, but it was so far at the back it was impossible to know what was going on half way down what I think was intended to be the path to the start. No pens, or flags for slower runners to gather by.
That said, this didn't matter so much because the start though dull was lovely and wide, so I rarely felt crowded.
The first five mile made me hate town planners as a series of flyovers and underpasses sapped my will to live, and made the course more testing than I expected. Still I only missed a PBby less than a minute, so it couldn't have been too bad!
The biggest highlight was the support - people really seemed to make an effort to cheer you round. As a result I was grinning a lot of the way round.
Positives- good marshalling, great support, decent water stations and good atmosphere. Good medal too.
Negatives: Flyovers and underpasses. Poor start and crowded finish. Start a pain to get to and no real need for it.
Next year: Make it a out and back, so 10k people can get in by public transport or park and ride. Lose some of the underpasses and add a bit of park or greenery. Then it'll be a great event. Date of review: October 26, 2008
In short: Well organised, great race that deserves to become a fixture! In full: I'm not a very experience runner - only 10 or so 10k or HMs, but this was probably the best I've done.
I thought it was well organised, lots of space at the beginning even if like me you're at the back with lots of walkers. Lots of water stops and powerade (even if you were a back marker like me), well signed, lovely scenery and although no goody bag the festival seemed to have so much free stuff I could hardly walk ten paces without getting a bottle or a snack or something. Oh, and the race shirt was really good. It was an expensive race, but I don't mind that when you get a good event.
Any complaints? Well, I didn't lke the medal much, but my gf loved it, and whoever put "it's all downhill from here" on the sign at mile ten has a cruel sense of humour!
London needs a really good HM. This might well be it. Date of review: October 12, 2008
In short: Well done CONAC- good race. In full: I was very impressed. Organisation was good, start was grouped by time. Lots of water stations, friendly marshals, even a decent amount of support, despite the weather! Good medal and decent t-shirt too.
I like this race a lot (apart from the horrid 13th mile!) and would do it again. I hope they get to do a city centre and surrounds race next year- I'd definetely be back.
Want to give a special thanks to all the marshals and people who did the water stations. it must have been horrible, but thank you.