In short: Don't know what people are complaining about. A great run in terrible weather. In full: This run has been growing in stature every year and I think it will soon be one of the premier half-marathons in the UK. For a small city to organise a 5000 capacity chip-timed run is an incredible achievement in modern athletics. I ran the Wolves half a few weeks back (only 800 runners), an established race in a similar sized city and that was not perfect either. People criticising this event seem to have nit-picked on the smallest details - this is not VLM so try to relax a bit and appreciate the effort that went into what did go well.
I agree that the start funnel could have been better as traffic was not cleared from the road until 20 mins before the off, but then again they were buses bringing runners to the race, so what's the fuss? The crowding made it hard to spot your pace runner until near the gun, but the pacers themselves lined up in time and gave a clear briefing to their group as to how the pace would be run.
Bag storage - Kassam Stadium is a football Conference level venue with a match day capacity of around 12500. Given that there is no storage area inside and no practical place to park baggage trucks, using one side of the stadium to store the 3500+ runner's bags by filing them in order in the the seats is innovative. Spare a thought for the baggage marshals who spent their day running up and down steps to store and fetch bags. There was no 'shambolic' anything and no congestion picking up bags once runners heeded the reasonable instruction to stop getting changed in front of the baggage stand and take their bags & clothes inside the stadium.
And my race - I'm still aiming to break 90 mins and held up until 9Km before losing the pace group and rolling in at 1hr 33. Clearly need to work harder on speed endurance, and weather aside I would run this event any year. Date of review: October 14, 2013
In short: Flat course but windy this year In full: Great flat course with strong PB potential. 420 runners with a 31 min winner and 80 people finishing sub-40 mins - but not me thanks to the headwind on the airfield between 7 and 8km. Should have pushed harder. As noted below some of the distance markers were a little out - 6K was about 400m too long - but my GPS watch gave correct splits and had the finish bang on 10K. Marshals were very helpful. Date of review: December 11, 2012
In short: Always enjoyable In full: I've only missed this 10K once in the last 10 years. This is the event that got me back into serious running after being talked into it by a mate who lived locally. It's a real challenge with 3 hills and 3 long slopes to the peak height around 7K. Friendly atmostphere at the rugby club with post-race massage, tea, coffee and BBQ. Marshalls on course also keep your spirits up.
Very happy with yet another PB, this time 42 minutes. Doing it on this tough course has given me the belief that the long-awaited sub-40 on flat may not be far off. A long way from my first gasping wreck of a run back in 2003 when I could barely break 70 minutes!
There aren't many distance markers - but to people who think they saw them way out of place, you may been spotting the marshal station markers (red numbers on a white background). Those are not KM markers. Date of review: May 14, 2012
In short: Great course if the wind stays down In full: This is a flat PB course but only on a calm day. The final long straights of each lap (on the airfield runway) were run into a strong headwind. That's a total of about 1K per lap with the wind holding you up. By my Garmin pace I reckoned it was adding 30 secs/km. I did get a half marathon PB but missed my goal of sub-90 by 2 mins, which I put down mainly to that wind.
Later on I met a couple of other runners in Stratford town who had run this course before and they said it had never been so tough with the wind. So be warned and expect to work a lot harder on a blowy day.
Lastly commentators on previous editions of this race have mentioned that the course seemed long and I agree - the Garmin measured the half marathon at 21.28KM. Date of review: March 5, 2012
In short: Fast flat course In full: Freezing conditions prompted a proper warmup and fast run taking 3 1/2 minutes off my previous PB. In spite of visible snow around the park both the path and grass surfaces were sound with no icy patches anywhere. Well organised start split the field into informal waves a few seconds apart, so in spite of there being over 200 runners it never felt crowded. Date of review: February 13, 2012
In short: Starts out easy..... In full: Tough mix of slopes and proper hills. The first 3 miles are gently uphill and an easy way to warm up, but no matter what the wind direction the course loop means at some point you must run at least 2 miles into headwind. A great race that takes more out of you than you'd think. Date of review: November 29, 2011
In short: As tough as ever In full: It never gets any easier yet I keep coming back. 3rd year in a row, 3 mins off the PB, and the first year I've had to wade across the stepping stones. To those runners who did it for the first time - the ground is normally a lot dryer and less slippery underfoot so don't let that put you off trying again. Date of review: July 5, 2011
In short: Great scenery over a tough trail course. A friendly weekend in the Lake District. In full: Perfect weather and stunning views made it an enjoyable run out. Friendly marshalls and locals especially through the campsite on the final stretch. PB never a possibilty - I was almost an hour slower than my road time but you do these courses for fun rather than speed.
It is tougher than the website slide show suggests, with about 10 miles of hard slopes plus 5 miles of easier ascent to reach the highest point above Coniston Water (where most people were happy to stop for photos :-) ). The remainder of the course, although mostly downhill, is no faster due to some very rocky terrain. At many sections we were gingerly picking our way forward at walking speed to avoid injury. The water crossing was a welcome cooldown and it wouldn't hurt to keep it on the course.
I said it was friendly and I'd like to thank the marshalls, race organisers & locals who helped me stay in touch with my partner after the car had a blowout whilst she was driving to the south spectator point. With no mobile signal except Vodaphone we relied on them passing a message back to the finish area and kindly lending me a phone to call back, whilst a local household helped to recover the car from the road for repairs on their driveway. And a shout out to the kind barman who stood me a beer whilst I waited for news with my money being some miles away in the car! No-one was hurt and all sorted in the end.
If I had one gripe it would be the sporadic KM markers. Myabe I wasn't paying attention but I only noticed signs at 14, 17, 18 & 24K in addition to knowing the feed station distances from the course map. It does make it hard to calculate pace unless you wear a Garmin etc. I also would have expected timing chips for the price paid.
I probably wouldn't come back only because of the slog to get up there from home and the timing of it falling between the spring and autumn marathons (this will be the only year I try to race 3 of them!). But if you enjoy trail/fell running and know what terrain to expect this race would be a highlight of the year. Date of review: July 5, 2011