In short: Forget about running around industrial areas or housing estates - this is what running is all about. In full: Brilliant race and this should be a race that all runners run at least once in their life. Forget about uninspiring routes around drab industrial areas and housing estates (Kilomathon organisers are you listening?) this route takes you across one of the most stunning (and potentially dangerous) landscapes in the UK. It isn't dangerous of course because the organisers have taken care of everything. It's well marshalled, the route is well-marked. There are frequent enough water stops and the coastguard are on-hand if anything does go wrong. A nice medal this year in lieu of a t-short (good decision in my opinion.)
We came up from Cheshire en masse this year (18 of use) and we all had a great day out. The glorious sunny day helped in this respect and even the queue on the M6 south afterwards couldn't dampen our spirits.
Many thanks to the organisers and volunteers for another fantastic race! Hopefully see you next year.
In short: Highly enjoyable race. In full: This was my first go at the Marlborough Downs Challenge and I found it to be a well organised and scenic event.
There was plenty of parking at the start and the toilets facilties at the nearby leisure centre where registration took place seemed more than adequate.
The route was extremely scenic and for the most part very runnable. The checkpoints were extremely efficiently manned by very helpful and friendly volunteers and had a choice of water or squash and a variety of biscuits and sweets. They seemed sensibly thought out too. I think the biggest gap between them was 10k though the marshalls gave m eplenty of warning about this at the stop before. Most gaps seemed to be about 4 miles which felt just right.
Marshalling was low-key as you might expect on a 33 mile race, but the marshalls who were on route were extremely supportive and did an excellent job. Navigation was made easy by a combination of comprehensive pre-race directions (which I would heartily recommend runners take with them) and signposts at critical points.
The finish was slick, with a nice earthenware mug for all finishers. The post-race meal was the nicest I have ever eaten. The veggie option was a cheese and pasta bake with side salad and it went down an absolute treat!
Overall, this was a thoroughly enjoyable race and one I would very much recommend particularly if you are new to ultra-running or even if you are a more experienced runner looking for a quicker time or an enjoyable day out in the Wiltshire countryside. Date of review: May 16, 2011
In short: Unique. Everyone should do this at least once in their life. In full: There are several things that make this a unique event, not least having a great opportunity to run across Morecambe Bay. An area of outstanding beauty but also one of great peril.
Race organisation seemed to be very smooth. Adequate toilet facilities at the car park and at the race start. The bus journeys went quite smoothly - although the three of us from my club who made the 160 round trip were a little disappointed to be allocated three different buses because of our race numbers. There were plenty of water stops, more than enough for the weather on the day but it was good to see that the race organisers had planned suficient water for if the weather had been significantly hotter than it was. The route was well marked out and marshalled. The mile markers were slightly inaccurate as the race organiser had pointed out before the race and the race distance was a third of a mile shorter than a half-marathon. So sorry all you people who thought you had run your first half-marathon but you haven't - not unless you ran back to the car park afterwards!
The course itself was tough as you might expect. The sand underfoot varied from extremely wet and slippy to hard as nails and akin to running over ploughed fields. Water crossings were plentiful including the River Kent which was about 50 feet wide and nearly waist deep on me.
The goody bag was nice and included a reasonable quality cotton t-shirt (meh), a small water bottle (useful), some chocolate (I got a double decker - superb!) and a small bar of Kendal mint cake (bleurgh) and a bottle of water. There were also free cups of tea or coffee and biscuits at the end for runners.
All told, a great run and a unique experience and one which I would definitely do again. Date of review: June 8, 2010
In short: Brilliant in every way. In full: Honestly, this is pretty much the most enjoyable race I have run yet.
Yes the course was tougher than a road race, but you'd expect that, right? There is a large hill at mile 4 which I imagine most people except the frontrunners ended up walking. We like hills. Running on the flat is boring.
The views at the top over Halifax were stunning. As were the bluebell lined paths through the woods. The river crossing near the end was hilarious fun and very well marshalled.
The marshalling throughout the race was *by far* the best I've come across. Where did they get them all from? Half the town must have had yellow vests on that day. From the moment I approached the race HQ in my car before the race, marshalls were everywhere directing me into a suitable car parking spot with consummate ease. Number collection was quick and easy and I was given plenty of pre-race course advice. Marshalls en route were hugely enthusiastic and supportive. There were two water stops both well manned and the first one has to win the award for best located water stop ever! (Right at the top of Troopers Hill when you most need it.)
The roas was virtually all off-road, there were some road crossings but these were well marshalled, traffic was held-up and you didn;t feel in any danger whatsoever. I ran it in off-road shoes but really it could have been run in road shoes, though it had been very dry leading up race dry. I imagine the course would have been much trickier had there been a few days of rain beforehand.
The goody bag contained a nice hand towel which personally I much prefer to yet another cheap cotton t-shirt. There were also several chocolate bars / flapjacks etc.
Brilliant race overall! Well done Stainland Lions! Date of review: May 3, 2010
In short: Brilliant organisation, challenging course (and weather!) Excellent value for money. In full: The organisation was nothing short of superb. Registration was painless, parking was well signposted and free, the race was expertly marshalled with regular water stops. The free Cornish pasty at the end was delicious and very welcome - and there was a vegetarian option too which I really wasn't expecting to see - well done on that!
The course itself was scenic, but tough. The hilly section really got to me by mile 23 and the seemingly endless ice cold headwind destroyed what was left of my will. By mile 25 I was an emotional wreck. But, nobody said running a marathon was easy right? :D Date of review: March 8, 2010
In short: Enjoyable race, some minor organisational issues. In full: Positives first, a very enjoyable race along a well marshalled and scenic route. Nice medal too. The marshalls were friendly and supportive. The little bit of mud and water made the race far more interesting. It's November in North Lancashire for goodness sake - what kind of weather were people expecting?
Next year, I would suggest starting the race on the track so that runners can organise themselves into places appropriate to where they are likely to finish. Starting with a lap of the track would allow the field to spread before it gets to the narrower tracks where overtaking is more difficult. If you want to address a field of 600+ runners in the open air you will need some kind of decent voice amplification, otherwise most people will not be able to hear you and will not be aware of the one minutes silence. Being a Billy no-mates I had no one to talk to anyway, but I'd have been horrified if I'd unwittingly talked through a rememberance silence. A few signs from the leisure centre car park to the start of the race would have been helpful for those of us who don't know the area. I suspect the receptionist in the leisure centre was a little cheesed off at having to answer the same question so many times.
In short: Really enoyable race with immense crowd support. In full: I'll definitely be back for this race again! Challenging route with a couple of tough hills. Nice medal, t-shirt and plate which was a nice touch. Brilliant crowd support, longish decline to finish and a big loud crowd along the finishing stretch made it a very memorable finish. Date of review: June 17, 2009
In short: Tough but enjoyable run. In full: Tough but enjoyable route. Small field. Superb, very supportive marshalls. Hilly in parts - who says Cheshire is flat? Very well organised, regular water stops. Plenty of car parking near start/finish. Goodybag and s choice of water bottle, cup or t-shirt for all finishers. A definite race for my calender next year. Date of review: May 10, 2009
In short: Pretty average all in all. In full: As other people have commented it was a disorganised start, with many runners not knowing where the start line was and then being pushed to one side minutes before the start in order to let some cars through.
I registered on-line a few weeks before the race but was still given a handwritten number - which was a bit disappointing as I keep them as mementos. The t-shirt was ok, if you like one-size-fits-all-as-long-as-you-are-huge t-shirts. I would personally prefer a medal or something similar though.
The pre-race could do with some refinements. I imagine the registration desks, toilets and changing are ok to find once you know from previous years where they are. But if you don't then expect to wander around a huge leisure centre for some time trying to find them.
The course itself was ok, nothing special in the way of scenery. Some parts of the course are on roads with both traffic and parked cars.
Parking was good, here seemed to be plenty of parking available across the road form the leisure centre on the Uni campus. Date of review: February 1, 2009
In short: Pretty good race all in all. Great cause. In full: Great weather. Well marshalled course. Not many bottlenecks which made the going quite quick. Slight criticisms are that it could have done with some more toilets at the start and I'm not a big fan of mugs as mementos. Date of review: January 26, 2009