In short: Plenty of ups and downs with this course; thankfully the organisation and weather were two of the ups I liked! In full: A testament that races organised by running clubs are general better that their commercially operated counterparts.
Distance markers every mile and sufficient arrow markers to ensure you never felt lost. Regular drink stops, enthusiastic marshals and official race cyclists to accompany you.
No medal at finish, but this was more than compensated by a quality hoodie and a hot pasty.
The rest of the goodie bag though was less impressive; 2 small chocolate bars, a balloon and an apple, and as such was bit of an anticlimax after the hoodie. But hey, a minor gripe when considering the value of the entry price.
The only other observation was that some of the roads were very narrow making it a challenge for the odd car to pass us, though most drivers seemed to thankfully pay due respect.
In short: Like the course itself plenty of ups and downs. Sadly apart from the cadets mainly downs In full: No toilets open at Skyes Lane car park and after a long walk to the start, no toilets there either.
With mile markers at only every 3 miles and no evident course marking, there were occasions where I wasn’t sure I had gone the right way or that the people I was following hadn’t gone the wrong way.
Unbelievable number of cattle grids to cross, many you had to cross as there were no open gate next to them.
My relief after finishing was soon replaced by disappointment in that I along with others received a goodie bag that didn’t seem to match the Herculean efforts we felt we had put in, then over 30 minutes waiting for the bus transfer back to Sykes Lane car park. It would appear only one minibus was in operation.
In all I agree with the other comments posted here, especially regarding the only real positive element; the support from the enthusiastic cadets.
In short: The first and last miles were pleasant in road shoes In full: Some of the grasslands and fields, albeit hilly in places were ok. And the disused railway track in the latter stages wasn’t too bad either. But elsewhere, aka the quagmire, road shoes were definitely not the footwear to use.
Ok, my fault, but I don’t do many trail races, so never really felt the need to have trail shoes before.
However, en route I never felt lost thanks to clear and regular signs marking the route, even on the rare occasions I was alone.
Drink stations were every few miles or so, and despite each one feeling like an oasis in a never ending desert, they gave you the opportunity to chat to friendly marshals and fellow runners also taking a breather.
I actually enjoyed the steady walk back from the finish to the car park, but then it was on lovely unwavering asphalt. And next year I think everyone should be forced to wear road shoes so that they can share the character-building experience I had. ;)
In short: Challenging course with great scenery, but not-so-great organisation In full: I agree with the comments by James Russell 20. Though I did the full marathon, much of James’ comment held true for that as well. I also agree that much of the negatives can be easily resolved. What I would like to add though is: a) The hill section after mile 3 out of Tenby that takes you up to mile 4 and the Ridgeway section of the course is particularly nasty… I mean “challenging”! b) The strong camaraderie between runners was superb and certainly helped to keep me going, especially in the latter stages. c) More drink stations, especial ones with isotonic drinks would have also helped, otherwise on a very hot day I could see there being some serious hydration issues. d) The views from Manorbier over the coast were breath-taking. Shame I had little breath left by then to give! e) Yes, the roads were closed, and in most part this held up. Though to be honest, some of the roads were narrow single track, which would have made things interesting if there was traffic on them. f) The finish had red carpet; almost Ironman style. Shame the finishing clock wasn’t on the overhead gantry (ok, a minor point), but at least the welcoming crowds were there to make it all worthwhile. g) 3 days after the event and the results are now available, but still not the full results. Not sure why it is taking so long when many other events offer provisional results the same evening or following day.
In short: A challenging & scenic race, full of camaraderie & great marshalling; spoilt by some cyclists & a flimsy timing chip In full: An undulating event mostly on gravel tracks with a couple of tough hills, but with some nice downhill sections to recover on. Though crowd support was thin, the marshals (including the guy in the gorilla suit) and other runners (including those not actually competing) provided much encouragement and support. My main gripe was the fact we had to share the paths with some cyclists who clearly didn’t have any respect for other park users; a few times I nearly got clobbered by them. Even the motorists seemed to behave themselves, though in most part down to the efficient marshalling. Not sure how well the event was advertised, but it did seem a lot of the other park users weren’t initially aware of it. My only other gripe is the timing chip; mine broke off just after 9 miles, and although I carried the remains of it with me for the rest of the race, not sure if I got an official time. If you’re going to use deposable timing chips, the type that is affixed to your race number works better from my experience. Date of review: May 21, 2012
In short: Out-and-back like the old route, but now undulating and more scenic In full: I’ve done the old Purbeck 10k a few times; a flat and fast out-and-back route. This one though is somewhat more undulating, and because of that actually felt more enjoyable. Norden Park and Ride was the ideal location for the finish and start nearby. But for me the highlight was at 7km seeing Corfe Castle in the distance. Date of review: May 21, 2012
In short: Top notch race with plenty to offer, organised by people who care In full: Did this last year and was so impressed by the attention to detail and helpfulness of Ines and the team at Gillingham Trotters that I had to come back and use this year as my 100th marathon. Considering there was a choice of marathons I could have gone for on the same day or in the proceeding weeks (including London, which I did do this year) and the fact it is an undulating course, I don’t think I could have picked a better marathon for my 100th. As well as totally agreeing with the other positive comments here, I enjoyed the free full-fat beer at the finish line, the support of the crowds, marshals and fellow runners en route, and the technical T-shirt (not one-sized cotton as in London). Date of review: May 7, 2012
In short: Interesting Race Let Down by Some Organisation Issues In full: According to the race instructions my start time was after midday; I had entered late and I guess I was given a high bib number for my ‘entry tardiness’. However, I arrived an hour earlier and was told I could go anytime I wanted. If I had know this before I would have certainly arrived earlier to avoid the midday heat. As it was, I ended up overtaking slower runners, but my thanks to them all for being so considerate and courteous in letting me through, even in the dark tunnel! The marshals did a great job encouraging everyone on, but one sadly did send me in the wrong direction at a bridge. It wasn’t until I saw runners on the other side of the canal did I realise this mistake and made a hasty return to the other side via two locks! It was nice to see that there were plenty of drinks en route even for those of us who started later. I also agree with the other comments regarding finding the baggage reclaim and goody bag collection area; FYI it was behind the Malt House Pub, a bit of a distance from the actual finish. Date of review: July 3, 2011