In short: Great race well done! In full: I hope there are many more comments on this brilliantly-organised race.
First thanks are due to Race Director Andy Blundell, those who took responsibility for the race, those who helped on the day and the marshals. All of these all gave up their day so that we could take part in a race.
This was the second time I've done the Tonbridge half marathon. The first time was good; this was even better. Perhaps I'm looking through rose-tinted spectacles, as my time was way better than I expected.
There are a few hills: my Garmin made the gross climb 119m (last year it made it 138m); for those who've done other local half-marathons, this is a lot hillier than Paddock Wood, and a lot flatter than Tunbridge Wells. The weather was hot for the time of year and still, which suited me well, or perhaps I should less badly than it suited others.
The roads were closed which was a great. The course was a pleasure to run. K College is a great venue. My impression is still that this race could get much bigger. The course could take a lot more runners. K College seemed unstressed with the numbers. I'm not so sure about the car parking, the exit seemed to be closed when I left, but that seemed OK too. The race HQ is very close to Tonbridge train station, which helps. Unhelpfully, though, engineering works prevented trains running between Wadhurst and Tonbridge on the day.
The whole day was brilliant. Last year the prize-giving was a shambles. This year it was excellent, if a bit late and a bit lengthy, perhaps because it was also Kent Championships half-marathon. It's a great idea to have representatives from the sponsors to present the prizes. This time the announcer gave the times of the prize-winners too, which I rather like!
I do think those people who give up their time to help produce the prize winners need a bit more help, perhaps from runners who've finished. I'd certainly be happy to help, though I'm not exactly the fastest runner there.
The chips seemed to be more reliable this year, and I heard of only one person whose time failed to record. That said, it seems to me that chips on the race number are inherently likely to be less reliable than chips on the shoe!
The support in Leigh was fantastic! Date of review: September 29, 2014
In short: Great race, but no cover! In full: Thanks to nice work for organising this. Thanks especially to the marshals for standing out in the rain and the other organisers, who were really friendly and helpful.
All was good, this is not a fast course, the total climb was 228 metres according to my my Garmin. It's very scenic and a pleasure to run.
When the weather is bad, as it was on the day, the lack of shelter is quite a problem. Overall a great race, though! Date of review: August 30, 2014
In short: Epic race, not as tough as people say In full: Thanks for Istead and Ifield Harriers for organising this event. Thanks also to the marshals for giving up their day so that we could enjoy this marvellous race. I don't think I've ever seen so many marshals in a race.
For those who like statistics, one of my Garmins made the course 30.12km, the other made it approximately 30.4km. The gross climb, as measured by the first, was 490m.
My impression was that the 28th km, as marked on the course, was rather short. My Garmin had been well ahead until that point, as it usually is. However it was close to spot on at that point.
Enough of statistics, this was a great race, quite hard work to run, quite hilly, quite hot and sunny on the day. However I think that's only to be expected, given that it's a cross-country race in the North Downs in late June, when warm weather is indeed possible. Some people did wonder if an earlier start would be better.
From what I've read of the feedback I must be one of the few who actually ran this race a lot quicker than expected. I'd expected to get round in 3:30 to 4:00, but managed a bit over 3:03.
A note for those who, like me, start towards the back and hope to catch up later. After the first km, when overtaking is possible, it's quite hard to overtake for much of the next few km, as they include a lot of narrow paths and gates/ stiles which caused queues and walking for quite some time. That's not a problem, of course, but one needs to be aware of it.
The water, oranges, tea, coffee and cakes (all free) at the end were excellent and most welcome.
I think this race deserves its excellent reputation and I hope to be back in 2015, if I can get to the start by the start time (I can't drive, so rely on a lift or public transport). Date of review: June 27, 2014
In short: Great race, why is there no feedback? In full: Thanks to the St Edmunds Pacers and the marshals for giving up their time on the day and before and after.
Make no mistake, this is a great race to help prepare for a Spring marathon. I came, the night before!, from Kent, as our usual 20-mile race, the legendary Thanet 20, was not happening in 2014.
All seemed good beforehand, parking was easy, the hall at the school was fine, though the notices could have been clearer, and I had to ask approximately 20 people before I found the start!
The race was great, pretty flat, 156 metre climb in 32.43km according to my Garmin. The marshals were great, and needed since there were any number of ways to go wrong. The scenery was classic Suffolk countryside, which I love. My first job was in Bury St Edmunds, a few miles West of the race, in the 1970s, so I knew what to expect on that score.
Why weren't there more runners? Search me! 237 in the 20-mile race and 187 in the 10 mile race. The course could take far more, though the race HQ might struggle with that number.
Well done St Edmunds Pacers, I wish we had a pre-Spring marathon race like this in Kent! Date of review: March 12, 2014
In short: Quite fast, dull course, well-organised In full: Thanks to Kent AC for organising this. Thanks to the marshals for being there to keep us on track and being so supportive.
There's no doubt this is not a beautiful course. It's three loops of suburban Sidcup, but fine if you like that, which I do. I don't think it's quite as flat as my Garmin suggested (34 metre climb over 16.27km). The first km includes a nice downhill start, but my Garmin suggests it's neither up nor down!
Organisation beforehand on the day and until the end of the race was great. The prize-giving was, as often seems to be the case, not so good. The results weren't put up anywhere, so no-one could check them. The generous club tried to present the MV50 to an MV40. Someone tried to present the MV60 Kent Champs to the wrong person, when the MV60 overall winner was from a Kent club. Not all the prizes were presented on the day. As a runner I'm very grateful to those who give up their time to administer races, but I do sometimes wonder if this aspect would be better done if results were posted before the presentation and one or two runners were asked to help.
This doesn't detract from a great race, well-organised! Date of review: March 12, 2014
In short: Great race! In full: First thanks are due to Chris and Andy of Active Leisure Events, who organised this great race. Also many thanks to the others who took responsibility for the race and the marshals, who all gave up their day so that we could take part in a race.
This was the first time I've done the Chester marathon. It will be the last, I fear, as it's far from home and I plan to cut down on marathons.
It's not flat; there are a few hills: my Garmin made the gross climb 180m, which is not as flat as Brighton, but flatter than Kent Coastal (Thanet), both of which I've run before. The weather was pretty good; pretty still and warm, but not hot.
The roads were closed which was a great. The course was a pleasure to run. Chester race course is a great race HQ. My impression was that this race could get much bigger; indeed given its excellent reports I was surprised there weren't many more runners. The course could take a lot more runners. The racecourse seemed unstressed with the numbers. I went by train so missed the car park delays some have referred to.
The whole day was brilliant. The chips don't seem to be as reliable as one might hope and this could cause some problems. Also the mile 24 marker was a few hundred meters too early which momentarily raised in my mind the possibility of what would likely have been an unique achievement.
Overall these were two fairly minor drawbacks to a great race. The support in the villages was excellent! I really recommend this race.
In short: Great race. In full: First thanks are due to Race Director Andy Blundell, those who took responsibility for the race, those who helped on the day and the marshals. All of these all gave up their day so that we could take part in a race.
This was the first time I've done the Tonbridge half marathon. I hope it won't be the last.
There are a few hills: my Garmin made the gross climb 138m; for those who've done other local half-marathons, this is a lot hillier than Paddock Wood, and a lot flatter than Tunbridge Wells. The weather was pretty good; pretty still, warm, not hot, but little or no sun.
The roads were closed which was a great. The course was a pleasure to run. K College is a great venue. My impression was that this race, which filled up this year a week or two in advance, could get much bigger. The course could take a lot more runners. K College seemed unstressed with the numbers. I'm not so sure about the car parking, but that seemed OK too. The race HQ is very close to Tonbridge train station, which helps. Perhaps the organisers could think about raising the entry limit a hundred or two for 2014?
The whole day was brilliant apart from the prize-giving, which was a shambles. It's a great idea to have representatives from the sponsors to present the prizes. Unfortunately too many of the prizes and trophies were either awarded initially to the wrong person, or just not awarded at all. I was talking at the end to the man who had won the MV60 trophy in just over 1:30, beating all-but-one of the V50s. A fantastic achievement, but one which went unrecognised, as the prize givers seemed not to be aware that there was a prize and trophy. The MV70 prize and trophy were also not awarded at the prize-giving ceremony. I like it when the announcer gives the times of the prize-winners too. A small point perhaps.
The chips don't seem to be as reliable as one might hope and this could cause some problems. For example the leading V50's chip did not seem to have worked, so I don't think he was awarded his prize or trophy on the day.
Overall these were two fairly minor drawbacks to a great race. The support in Leigh was fantastic! Date of review: September 28, 2013
In short: Marshalling error spoilt an otherwise great race. In full: First thanks are due to Thanet Roadrunners AC, those who took responsibility for the race and the marshals, who all gave up their day so that we could take part in a race. TRAC run a lot of races. A heartfelt thanks from me.
This was the first time I've done the Kent Coastal marathon, though I've done the Thanet 20, an ideal warm-up for a Spring marathon, a couple of times before.
To judge from the website, this race dates back to at least 1988. Interesting to note that in 1988 13 runners beat this year's winning finish time and 47, including no fewer than 7 from TRRC, which I guess is an earlier name for TRAC, beat 3 hours. This year 3 runners beat 3 hours, though I guess 4 or 5 more would have done but for the marshalling error. Truly humbling to see how fast people were 25 years ago; I recognise at least a couple of the sub-3 hour 1988 finishers in this year's list. Good for them! I was also interested to see that 5 of the top 30 finishers were v60 or v65.
I may have a rosy view: I intended to run 16 miles of this as a marathon pace run for a marathon in a few weeks' time, aiming to cut my pace for the last 10 miles. However in the end after the marathon pace bit I changed my mind and decided to race it. Fortunately with a good result, so I might have a sunnier view of this race than some.
There are a few slight hills, almost all in the first half: my Garmin made the gross climb 214m, which is low in my experience for such a long run; not much hillier than Brighton Marathon, the only other marathon I've run. The weather was pretty good; warm, not hot, but little or no sun. The wind, which I am told nearly always blows in Thanet, was quiet today, except for a horrid short patch in the third quarter of the race.
The race started nearly 7 minutes late, due to long toilet queues. There are of course never enough toilets at the start of a race, but this wasn't great. Apart from that others have written about the marshalling error. I heard about it from a couple of team-mates who weren't pleased either. It's a shame this spoilt the race for those affected. I wasn't fast enough to be affected, but it's clearly a serious issue. The error took place at probably the worst point for a marshal to be missing, since it was a turnback point and there is no way the runners could have worked this out. Clearly a sign to back up the marshal would have helped.
Enough of that. This is a great Autumn marathon for those who live in Kent. I hope to do it again.
For those thinking about doing it next year, the first half is quite busy, as the half-marathon runners add to the numbers. The second half can be quite lonely. For a few km, from about 23km to 27km, I could see practically no-one in front of me. I was worried I'd taken the wrong route, but I hadn't. For much of the race the runners share the route with walkers, dogs, joggers, people drinking tea, etc. Most of these were very supportive, as were the marshals. For some reason for the last 10km I was running very close to others, which I prefer.
Please keep it up TRAC. I think you're great, but do think about marshals and signs for 2014. Date of review: September 2, 2013
In short: Great race, well done to the organisers In full: Thanks to Wadhurst Runners and Nice Work plus those who helped on the day, from the bag drop, to the car park wardens to the marshalls who stood out in the heat for hours to help and encourage us round.
It was a great race, what a great idea to run around this well-known local reservoir and I can't wait to get back next year. I've run this three times now but never run another 15 mile race, so it's perhaps not fair to mark it low on personal best possibilities, but I think most people would agree with me. Whilst the scenery is beautiful, the race is largely not on roads, though much of the last five miles is. I find it hard to run as fast on trail-type surface, even when, as this year, it was as hard as bone.
Enough about PB possibilities. After about 3/4 mile down a steepish hill, this race is pretty flat for the first ten miles, then it goes on-road, and there are three hills, the last of which reverses the initial 3/4 mile, which is quite hard at the end. My garmin made the total climb 198 metres, which is not a lot for a 15-mile race. However it does feel harder than that, especially when, as today, the temperature was high and the sun out. The reservoir does seem to create some breeze, and the trees do provide shade in many places, but generally not on the three hills in the final five miles.
It was quite hot, 23 Celsius according to my Garmin Connect records. Quite a few people were walking up the hills at the end, so no-one should feel any shame about that!
I agree that providing bottles of water at the stations was very helpful on such a hot day. Personally I'd favour an earlier start, as it can be quite hot in July, even in England, but I guess I'm in a minority.
Finally I must repeat my thanks to Wadhurst Runners who are I think quite a small club in numbers, but large in achievement and ambition! Date of review: July 14, 2013
In short: Great race, a must run. In full: As usual the first point is to thank the organisers and marshalls for giving their time. The marshalls were very supportive. In my view this is a really great race for Spring marathon preparation, though for me it's best treated as a training run rather than a race. The scenery is highly varied. Overall the course is interesting but pretty flat.
Thanks to TRAC for organising this. The effort put in by clubs like yours is greatly appreciated. Also thanks to whoever decided this was a Kent Grand Prix event. The same again next year please!
The club I belong to sent 20 runners on a 120- mile round trip, leaving at about 06:30, which shows what we think of it.
Even the weather was good, with little wind and some sun.
I heard a lot, none good, about the short cross-country bit. I didn't mind it, but clearly I was in the minority.
I'm not bothered about goody bags. For me some water, a momento and some chocolate is more than enough. For me the important features are marshals, to stop me getting lost, and water stations.
If I can avoid injury and get there I'll be there next year. Please run it again! Date of review: March 6, 2013