In short: Fun, despite the cold, but a race of two parts In full: I'd signed up for this with a mate from work. He chickened out (apparently a 3 line whip from his wife to attend the school christmas bazaar took precedence) so I was there on my own in the car park, with the dashboard showing -2...
Cheerful atmosphere in the pre-race area, mostly seemed to be people doing it for fun - and first timers. Maybe this is one of those runs that you do once for the hell of it (sorry)? A fair number of people in fancy dress, again just for fun rather than obviously as a charity fundraiser.
Totally horrendous situation with the portaloos - not enough (as usual) but the flush system appeared to have frozen solid!
Bag check in was swift - a good thing as everyone left their warm gear on right until the last minute.
Then we were off - trecking through woods and heath land on decent tracks. Every now and then the route would veer off up or down a steep, sandy incline - causing inevitable bunching up and the pace slowed to a walk. Fine for getting your breath back, but I imagine that serious runners would be irritated. The route wound around the common for about 8 miles of this - all very pleasant but nothing unusual.
Then came the 'Bog of Doom' - and everything that we'd suspected was true! A trench, about 20m long, filled chest deep with freezing water. This just seemed to bring out the good cheer in everybody - lots of arms around shoulders, cheering from the crowd and smiles all round. Then a succession of steep scrambles, another couple of pools to wade across, and half a mile or so of soft sand to really test your strength. Nice run in to the finish, down a well made track, left us all on a high.
I'd happily do it again, but it did seem slightly lower key than I'd been lead to expect. Not sure what to make of it as a race though - the bunching up around the various scrambles meant that it was difficult to maintain a steady pace. Date of review: November 29, 2010
In short: Well and truly 'beasted' In full: OK it *had* been raining a lot in the days prior but I really hadn't got my head around how muddy it was going to be.
A very friendly crowd, with a real sense that we were all 'in this together' as we skidded and slid our way around. Plenty of cheerful marshalls around the course did a good job of keeping spirits up. Date of review: March 1, 2010
In short: My local circuit - so I'm biased! In full: My local circuit - the route goes right past my house - and I like it for the mixture of road, farm track and footpath.
One footpath section is a bit tricky and can be slippery when its wet (and it has been most times the race has run) but you wouldn't want to run only on roads in this part of the countryside. Date of review: October 12, 2009
In short: Great chance to run along some classic London vistas In full: My second ever half marathon, and a lot of fun. As everyone found, the queues for the loos were horrendous, and you had to collect your own goody bag from the 'sponsors village' - but the upside of that was that I had a fresh cup of tea and a slice of toast and marmite in my hand within 10 minutes of finishing!
I really enjoyed the route - although the endless loops around Hyde Park were a bit frustrating, the first half of the run had some pretty special moments - running into Parliament Square with Big Ben right in front, running up Whitehall into Trafalgar Square with Nelson's column right in front, running down the Mall towards Buckingham Palace - and all without having to do 26 miles of the London Marathon. Date of review: October 12, 2009