In short: Great race, but expensive In full: I'm glad I had a hotel opposite Preston Park, because the toilet queues on site were generally horrendous. It wasn't too bad to simply use the urinals though. The race itself was fantastic with plentiful water stations and great crowd support. A couple of dodgy mile markers, which seemed to have been placed at random (miles 7 and 10), though this is not particularly unusual. Great to see the elites on their way to the finish. The out-and-back nature of the course made it tough going at times. The stretch along New Church Road seemed to go on forever! This is definitely a race to be experienced, but I have to mark it down for value. While I secured an early-bird entry for a reasonable price, the process of having to stay in Brighton to collect race packs from the Expo adds a considerable amount of time and expense. Surely you don't lose that many race packs in the postal system? Also, having to print out vital information from the race magazine is another pain. I don't believe that these methods are as "green" as you say. It simply palms off extra hidden costs to the competitors. If it wasn't for the cost and time involved I would unreservedly enter again because I enjoyed the race atmosphere very much. However, it will remain on my "maybe" pile while I try out more alternatives in the next few years. Date of review: April 16, 2013
In short: Smooth organisation In full: Silverstone is notorious for access problems, and based on previous race reviews I was prepared for a lot of waiting. However, I was pleasantly surprised. Straight in to the car parking, and out of the area again in around 20 minutes, which was pretty good considering the volume of traffic along the single road.
The race is never going to win any awards for scenery, but you don't sign up to run on a racing circuit and expect to see anything other than stands and roads, surely? Unless it was Monaco, I suppose.
I really can't fault the organisation of the essentials, such as baggage handling. The race started on time, and it was a great touch to start running to the F1 theme tune. I'm not a huge F1 fan by any stretch, but I'm going to get goosebumps every time I hear that theme from now on!
This is the biggest event I've run to date, so it was quite a novelty to be surrounded by other runners from start to finish. Bunching around the course was minimal and there were loads of opportunities for overtaking without fuss.
It's not a flat course, but the inclines are no more than about 2%, so there is plenty of PB potential. I found my Garmin was persistently measuring short miles (probably because I wasn't following the racing line well enough), so it's a good idea to wear a pace band if you want to hit a specific target.
I really enjoyed the experience and thought it was good value for money. Date of review: March 4, 2013
In short: Enjoyable race in spite of the weather In full: I'll get my gripe out of the way first. Having arrived in Stevenage nice and early I was near to where the parking had been allocated. Perhaps I came in from an odd direction, but I saw absolutely no helpful signs to the location of the parking, nor to the "Showground". I then made my way to the town centre and found the Swimming pool. Again, no signs to direct to the carpark that was being used. Fortunately there were a couple of coaches parked up and I guessed they would be for the runners. I would have been happier if I hadn't had to guess. Just a simple sign would suffice.
That aside, the organisation of the race was very good and the marshals did a fantastic job of directing and encouraging the runners around the course. In weather like we had today I would rather be running than marshalling for sure!
Good facilities at the start, including changing rooms and a stand near to the start line so that we didn't have to wait around in the heavy rain for too long. Water was in cups, probably half-filled with rainwater :)
The course is a good one for a PB. The inclines are not too challenging and the section around the lake allows some recuperation (twice - since it is a two-lap course). According to my garmin, the overall elevation gain was about 400ft.
The bus transfer to and from the venue was well organised and I didn't have to wait around very long at all.
I would happily run this event again. Hopefully the parking won't be moved again and I'll know where to go next time. Date of review: November 4, 2012
In short: Low-key, enjoyable race In full: I wasn't expecting any fanfare after receiving my race pack containing my number and nothing else. This reduces my mark for "beginner friendliness", but is only a minor quirk really. The only other bad point is the amount of time it has taken to see the results (one week following the race). The race itself was very enjoyable and well organised. It is a low-key event, initially feeling quite "clubby", but friendly nonetheless.
The race was on a single lap, fairly scenic course around the Luton Hoo estate on mainly traffic-free roads. After the first mile there is a steady incline of around 6% for half a mile, then about 1.5% until it flattened out. At about the 6km mark there was a fairly steep (about 9%) decline for around a quarter of a mile. Then there were a series of shorter undulations until the end. A nice touch was the marking of tree roots with white paint to help avoid tripping. Marshalls were in all the right places, which helps when you are a useless navigator like me. Although it isn't a flat course, just remember that for all the uphills there are downhills too!
Another nice touch was the medal, depicting a torchbearer. My very own "Olympic" medal :)
The parking and facilities at the venue were fine for the number of participants. I really enjoyed this race and will definitely return.
In short: Some niggles, but a valiant first marathon. In full: Many thanks to all the marshals, musicians and supporters who braved the elements on such a foul day so that I could run my planned marathon! The drink stations were generally well signposted and managed, and I appreciated the options for Lucozade Sport and Hi-5 gels. The marshals and spectators were great throughout the course, shouting encouragement and warning of impending obstacles.
I was lucky enough to secure stadium parking, so I didn't need to wait for baggage – which was a huge bonus. I was surprised that there were no additional portaloos provided outside the stadium. Perhaps this is something for the organisers to consider for next year to alleviate the overcrowding inside the stadium. It was unpleasant trying to get to the toilets in the stand before the start.
Approaching the stadium for the finish was great, but was let down somewhat because the actual finish line was not immediately obvious. The supporters were clearly well accustomed to shouting “keep going” when runners crossed the “dummy” line, before reaching the true finish line. I can only guess how many runners must have pulled-up before actually finishing. I expected to see a finish arch, so it was a bit of an anti-climax to cross the line and then walk some distance to collect the medal. The medal itself was worth achieving.
The few niggles were amplified by the extraordinarily lousy weather, but I think they would still cause complaints on a good day. They are not insurmountable problems, so I'm confident that this event will only get better. As an inaugural event, I think the organisers are to be commended. Date of review: May 1, 2012
In short: Very enjoyable race In full: My second time at this event. The organisation was very good, if a bit chaotic in the main hall. The wait time for timing chip, baggage and toilets were not as bad as imagined when looking at the queues. Nice work by all volunteers. Marshals around the course were encouraging and attentive. Water was handed out efficiently. No goody bag. Cagoule was OK, but personally preferred previous years sweatshirt. Unless I missed it, there was a lack of signs to bus pick-up point. Also, I didn't realise that there were two bus drop-off's, which was confusing because I couldn't see a thing out of the bus windows. Overall, only minor gripes in an otherwise excellent, well organised race. Date of review: December 12, 2011
In short: Great Race, Pleasant Course, Well Marshalled In full: The hardest part (hill climb) is over by the time you reach two miles. There is a steady (though not steep) incline between around five and seven miles which slowed me down. Nonetheless, I got an unexpected PB for the distance. It must have been because of the strategically placed motivational signs saying "PB or Bust". Special mention must go to the marshalls, who were very encouraging regardless of club affiliation. If I have to find a negative, it would be that the water stations only had water in cups. I will be more than happy to run this very enjoyable race again in future. Date of review: April 3, 2011
In short: Very well marshalled, lots of encouragement, scenic. In full: My only gripe about this event was the lack of directions from/to the parking at the school. A few directional signs would have been useful. Other than that, from arrival at the running track this was a very well run event. There was only a short queue for numbers and timing chips. Likewise, the baggage tent was well manned and efficient. The race itself was entusiastically marshalled with plenty of encouraging words shouted from start to finish. Overall it was a very enjoyable run and I wouldn't hesitate to participate again. I have to say it's a potential PB course, because I just achieved a PB in spite of some poor recent training. Date of review: November 7, 2010
In short: Very enjoyable race In full: I have no complaints whatsoever about this well organised event. It remains one of my favourite races. The Rhino's ran over towards us near the start and the cheetah looked ready to begin chase, which makes this run something out of the ordinary. Considering the hilly surroundings, the course is about as flat as they come so PB's are definately on the cards. Date of review: June 6, 2010
In short: I recommend this race without hesitation In full: Due to illness and injury in the latter weeks of my training I regretably had to drop down from the Full to the Half-Marathon this year.
Thank you to all of the marshalls and organisers for another enjoyable day. There was some great support going around the course too. The encouragement is always appreciated.
The start seemed to be even more bunched than last year - probably due to the new (temporary?) start location. The announcer was urging the back runners to go faster because we were in danger of holding up the front runners completing the initial lap in town. It's difficult to run faster in a bottleneck!
I prefer water provided in bottles, but it's not a major issue.
Apart from those minor niggles I thoroughly enjoyed the run. Date of review: April 27, 2010