In short: Nice scenery in the middle In full: I ran this because it had recieved rave reviews on RW previously. I'd say that it is a better than average road half marathon, but I wouldn't rave about it. Organisation was good, with lots of marshalls on road crossings - although there could have been more in the final busy town park, where I had to take evading action to avoid running over a toddler who had sprinted out of a junction into the path. Marshalls were very entusiastic. Water points were a liitle oddly spaced - every 2 miles in the fist 6-7 miles, then only one in the second half, where runners are likely to need water (especially on a day as hot as this one). Scenerry was mixed - a couple of miles of housing estate at the start and finish, but lovely kentish country lanes in the middle. Course not particularly flat, but not particularly hilly either: the "big" hill at ten miles is longish, but not steep.
Atmosphere was mixed - as often seems to be case on road races: lots of friendly chat or at least smiles, but a noticeable minority who insist on wearing headphones (against race instructions), oblivious to those around them, or barge through elbows flying when overtaking. If you're in the middle of the field, does it really take much effort to smile and thank the marshalls? - they've given up their Sunday morning for your benfit, after all. Date of review: July 24, 2012
In short: A bit hilly - but massively muddy! In full: First time I'd done this. Entered on the day despite some reservations about the weather. Glad I did - great atmosphere, very enthusiastic marshalling and lovely scenery - woods, downland and poppy fields. Not as hilly as South Downs or Greensands, but a few shortish but sharp hills - made much harder by the additions of very slippery mud (admittedly outside the organisers' control). Might be relatively fast if the ground is dry.
Very narrow path for firts 3-4 kms, with limired overtaking after the starting bit round the playing fields, so racing snakes might want to push ahead. Bit dubious about some of the distance markers, especially the last km (I hadn't slowed down that much), but a very enjoyable race. Date of review: June 25, 2012
In short: No flat bits! In full: 26.2 miles of either up or down - a verticle mile of ascent. Beautiful Surrey Hills scenery, wonderful enthusiastic marshalling, lots of nice organisational touches (including a full english breafast at the end - which I have to admit my stomach wasn't in a fit state for) and the usual Trionium madness (singing "Jerusalem" at the start).
Mainly on forested tracks, often narrow, with a lot of tree roots and lose stones, so keeping an eye out on the path is a must. Third quarter particularly painful - the downhill from Leith Hill is very welcome afterwards, although not so the sharp climb onto the Nower less than a mile from the finish! Date of review: October 24, 2011
In short: Beautiful location - a few niggles to iron out In full: Glorious Kent scenery on the edge of the North Downs, enthusiastic support and marshalling and a nice technical T-shirt at the finish. On roads and pavements all the way, mildly undulating (up/down hill a lot) until 10 miles and then downhill most of the way back. A pleasant way to start a crisp autumn day.
A few areas with room for improvement: postcode for registration was wrong (I wasn't the only one driving round in circles on the wrong side of Maidstone); parking at the venue was a bit of an unnecessary palaver; footpath for 2 miles alongside the busy A20 was very narrow, making overtaking rather more exciting/suicidal than I'd like; and finish slightly marred by having to weave through cars trying to drive along the road. Address those issues and you've got a near-perfect event. Date of review: October 18, 2011
In short: Does what it says on the tin! In full: Turned up 25 mins late for the start due to horrendous London traffic, but very kindly allowed to start anyway - and about 6 miles later was wishing I'd stayed in the carpark. I should have been forewarned by the Knacker Cracker (many familiar hills), but I'd thought Dr Rob was exaggerating when he claimed that this was Britain's Toughest marathon - how wrong I was! Hills, steps, more hills, more steps, (a total ascent equivalent to 1 and 1/2 times up Ben Nevis) a few river crossings and no more than 5-6 miles of flattish trail in the whole course. My slowest marathon ever by a very long way - but one of my real favourites.
Views superb. Magnificent, enthusiatic marshalling all the way round - the best I have ever seen in a race. Quite how some of the marshalls managed to keep up such vocal support for nearly 7 hours is beyond me - I assume some of them were voiceless come Sunday. Lots of mutual support from all the runners as we passed each other. A truly magnificent, agonising, fun (!) event - although it;'s a good job it's only every two years. Date of review: June 20, 2011
In short: Lovely but challenging low-key marathon In full: One of my favourites. A great event, considering it was the first time it had been run. Three and half laps around Richmond Park: one short loop, followed by three long loops (with a couple of longish biggish hills on each loop). Mainly gravel track/dirt trails, but surprisingly fast going after all the dry weather - might be a bit slower going if wet (especially on the hills). Dodging other park users an added challenge!
Water every 2/3 miles. marshalls very supportive and enthusiastic and, with only 300 runners, a great, intimate and friendly atmosphere. Price very good value for money - T-shirt, medal and mug at the end.
I hope that this event continues (although, as others have pointed out, once word gets out, this event is going to fill up fast). Some slight areas for improvement (on a good start for a 1st time race) would be a bit more signage at some of the more confusing track junctions and ditching/toning down the BMF warm-up before the start (I spent 13 years being shouted at by Army PTIs and could have done without it while getting mentally prepared for 26.2 miles of pain).
However, all in all, an excellent new event. Long may it continue. Date of review: May 16, 2011
In short: Surprisingly scenic - but also surprisingly muddy and hilly. A good intro to ultras In full: 50km around SW and NW London, about half of which was through parks and greenery and a third was on mud! Didn't know this part of London very well, and the varied scenery (park, river, canal, Richmond, Harrow and lot more besides) was a delight (, although I was surprised by quite how many (smallish) hills there were in an area I thought to be fairly flat.
Good as an intro to ultras, although you needed to keep your wits about you crossing busy roads (no marshalls except at the water points) and spotting signs: I'd guess that nearly everyone took a wrong turn at least once, and I had to rely on helpful "they went thataways" from friendly passers by.
Could have done without having to traipse back and forth across London to pick up race number the day before, and thought 40 quid was a bit steep for a medal and 4 water points. A running top would have been nice, and most comparable events seem to be able to stretch to this. Date of review: February 22, 2011
In short: Glorious scenery - biggish hills (for SE England) - what more could you ask for? In full: First time on what is clearly a very special race. Lovely run up onto the North Downs and back again. Almost all on trails, some of which are very narrow (making overtaking, particularly on some of the steeper sections, a bit difficult). 3 biggish hills, with a couple of steep sections.
Enthusiastic support, good atmosphere and excellent marshalling: particular thanks to the marshall who need nearly mown down trying to slow down a very bad-tempered driver on a back country lane.
Slightly expensive for a 10k (but it is in a good cause), and the technical t-shirt is good. Some slight room for improvement on the admin side: I wasn't the only runner who wound up in the fun run, rather than 10k, finish lane due to confusing signs and a route map/course profile at the registration would have been useful for first-timers. Parking is obviously a problem, and an arrangement that doesn't require driving out amongst the finishing runners would be good.
But, overall, a beautiful jaunt over the North Downs. Date of review: February 6, 2011
In short: Lovely - with a lot of hills! In full: Glorious scenery, even on a grey Bank Holiday, lots of water, plenty of enthusiastic support and marshalling, relatively traffic-free, but not PB territory. A lot of hills - at around the 1-mile point, I heard a spectator shout "only 20 more hills to go" and, like a fool, I thought he was joking. A course profile would be interesting, because I don't remember any truly flat sections: in fact, if it weren't for the fact that the start and finish were at the same place, I'd swear that there was more uphill than down... It's a good job that I actually like hills.
One minor area for improvement: the registration tent was a bit chaotic, and I, along with a few others, didn't realise that we were meant to collect our memento (mug) before the race, rather than at the finish line (as I'm more used to). However, once I'd asked at the end, one of the organisers very obligingly fetched everything.
All in all, an enjoyable, and testing, race Date of review: June 1, 2010