In short: My best running event to date In full: The Purbeck Marathon uniquely combines magnificent scenery on a big country tour, with a warm personal touch: there's intensity of being alive when you initially forge West along the coastal path from Durlston Head, then pass through the splendid Dorset villages such as Worth Matravers, Kingston and Corfe Castle, with people out cheering and applauding - a kind of Jubilee atmosphere - which reaches its climax towards the finish as you are welcomed back into Swanage by the onlookers and meet a refreshing sea breeze and sight of the waves, the Mayor (?!) in full regalia and ringing a bell as you go past. Having walked extensively in this area 10-20 years ago, the route took me to new places and vistas e.g. high up along the fringe of the army firing range. To enjoy this scale of scenery you would otherwise need to engage fell races and possibly suffer the effects of much steeper descents on the knees, potentially much harsher mountain weather. The Beachy Head Marathon at end-Oct is also great albeit nowadays a Council-managed, mass participation event, while the organisers at Purbeck are succeeding to keep this a friendly personal experience; officials and the director were always helpful and spoke to me warmly at the finish. Who needs the South of France or the Maldives when you can enjoy such a beautiful country tour then relax on the lawn overlooking the bay in good company, enjoying a proper ice cream! The reviewer below me here unfortunately had a bad day of it; I would say I found the marshalling and water/snacks support very good indeed; there was only one genuine moment of uncertainty that caused two runners in front of me to stop and wonder, shortly before the descent into Corfe Castle: up on the hill there was a choice between a stile or open gate, with no arrow or where lower down in the course a marshal would definitely have been in place. Otherwise the route seemed well-marked and people encountered were supportive and instantly made space anywhere narrow. I carried no water or food and found the supply plentiful; the flapjacks and seedy-carob energy bars around mile 17 (?) especially good, so thank you to whoever specially supplied those?! Mind this race seems in reality longer than 26.2, the 26 mile marker came on the trail well before any road and it felt like a good mile thereafter; but I reckon it's still within grasp for a first marathon (with proper hill training) because you can take your time and walk sections; enjoy! Date of review: September 16, 2014
In short: Glorious rolling hills, woodland, fields and paths In full: Splendid setting from Polesden and a well thought-out route which stays completely off-road. A good variety of terrain, nothing hazardous. Despite the miserable media weather people the conditions proved just right: some sun and cloud to enhance the scenery, temperature just right for running and a breeze but no strong wind as you were largely protected by the trees. I can't appreciate why some runners seem concerned for distance markers or whether the route is exactly 10km; does that really matter, why not just let go and enjoy the running/scenery? The route is fine! Date of review: June 24, 2013
In short: Splendid (near) autumnal Surrey woodlands In full: Were the hills so hard, as suggested? I found the route well chosen in that respect, to mitigate ascents that can be *a lot* harder in the area - such as Box Hill! Altogether a very good half marathon if about half-and-half tarmac and trail, so not quite what a pure country runner would prefer - but then the challenge is to create a 13 mile + route from Denbies which is a glorious location with the grapes hanging in early October.
The raucous music at the start/finish can bash the ears, OK for some Freddie Mercury at the start and a snatch of Frank Sinatra at the end, however most of it was jarring than feel-good - new DJ selections please! Date of review: October 7, 2012
In short: Glorious balmy November (?!) weather, atmospheric canal paths and woodlands In full: As a trail runner I'd wondered how much joint bashing would be involved on the tarmac canal paths - but it wasn't a problem, the atmosphere along the canal side was delicious with all the pretty boats, a few fishing rods and sweeping Middle England countryside. Then some variety with a good uphill (not too taxing though!) and into magnificent Scots Pine woodlands with a few roots to keep you alert. This has to rate among the most unique of off-road events, finishing time/position becomes less of an issue - just soak it all up and enjoy! Date of review: November 19, 2011
In short: Sweeping scenery, scots pine forests and lots sand! In full: Among the best events in the Southern autumn cross country calendar: big open spaces, pine forests, challenging sands - comforting on fast descents - with painted/masked faces on the marshalls (and a few runners) adding to the fun of it all.
Only downside is no social facility to have a cup of tea and a natter afterwards, out of the finishing drizzle, most people tend to retreat to their cars, portaloos provided though (or indoors for wimmin!) Date of review: October 31, 2011
In short: A proper bit of cross country In full: Well divided into 5k, 10k and 15k options, according to how many laps you do - because it's certainly challenging! Steep, exciting terrain which throws you about to keep in balance at times. The ascents/descents aren't as long as the Box Hill Fell Race, but it's that kind of event - fast firm ground, and lung gasping! Sandy bits, the odd gully and tree roots, add to the variety and challenge. The 15km race is all about having grit for lap 3, as 2 can feel quite enough - but then you overcome fatigue to keep the throttle open, which is what cross country is all about.
Good to see various older runners determinedly completing the course. Although there wasn't a water station at the finish you were handed a bag with a refreshing ginger-fruit drink.
This is among the best cross country events in the South: a fine, challenging woodland route also good facilities with hot showers. Date of review: October 23, 2011
In short: Fine new fixture for autumn cross country running In full: Very good organisation with plenty of dutiful, Halloween themed marshalls along this fine course which is an attractive distance variation from the typical 10ks. The sand makes it interesting and comfortable if a bit heavy going in places. Fine autumn scenary with light yellows contrasting against the green heather. Plenty of effort had also been put into markers and Halloween decoration along the way; however the distance markers appeared to vanish after 6 miles or maybe I was getting tired, so it became a bit uncertain as to pace. Unfortunately the rain around finish time compromised much socialising. The running field also spreads out considerably, so you can be running quite alone. But overall a fine autumn cross country run, well devised/organised, worth entering and returning for. Date of review: October 31, 2010