In short: Tough but good In full: Due to the downhill parts being short (and me being out of shape after xmas!) it felt like it was all uphill at times! Not a bad thing though; a very good race to burn off some festive cobwebs. Nice to get a race-branded memento and a good range of handouts at the end. Considering that and the use of the impressive race track stadium (though sadly not the showers), it's a good value race. Some parts were very slippery so it's well worth bringing shoes with plenty of grip. Overall a very enjoyable, tough but not extreme, race Date of review: January 6, 2014
In short: A short, hard and happy race In full: Pros: great atmosphere, wonderful views (even in horrible weather) and it really does feel like the toughest 10k in the country. Also a good selection of goodies and a nice medal help justify the price.
Cons: Very disappointed to only do 6km but I assume the weather caused that, and to be fair it was good to have a race at all. Date of review: January 1, 2014
In short: Good race on a pretty flat course. Nice t-shirt! In full: Nice enough route which is certainly flat enough to try for a PB. There are flatter routes (the whole of km 8 is downhill which shows how much steady climbing you've done) but they tend to be at the mercy of the wind, this one is sheltered enough and still mostly flat. Good marshals, and some spectators too so a nice atmosphere (especially at the end). I like the t-shirt instead of a medal (and it came in a good range of sizes) and the goody bag was pretty reasonable too (most smaller 10k's I've done don't have one anyway). I did prefer a the syetm they used to have when shirts were actually given out pre-race but at least this way it proves you're a finisher! Results available on-line later the same day is also good. Overall a nice, well run race that's well worth doing. Date of review: September 22, 2013
In short: Well organised trail race with excellent start/finish on runnnig track and facilities In full: Not a massive event but well ran and an enjoyable route. The start/finish at the K2 running track gives both really good facilities pre and post race and the chance to have your very own "Mo moment" battling for position in the last few hundred meters! Course is broadly uphill for the first half then back down again but with plenty of short climbs and dips along the way. Not a massive field but it is right in the middle of a very popular time for events. Well worth doing though: good value, a nice route and (gun) results available pretty much straight away via printouts. Date of review: September 15, 2013
In short: Very good race, deserves to get bigger In full: Plenty of drinks stations and excellent marshals (the most marshals I've seen at any non-big city marathon). Also well done for putting bins for plastic cups at least a bit past the drinks stations, so we can drink and not litter! Overall a pretty challenging and very scenic course with some great views and the fastest last mile of any marathon I've ever done. I like the two lap layout and although not a fan of 'out and back sections' both are short. Quite possible to run in road shoes though they will get a bit muddy! Passing the half-marathoners gave a good atmosphere which can sometimes be lacking in 'smaller' events. Occasionally an "excuse me" was needed to get by but everyone seemed very nice. Also the spectators that were there were vocal and supportive. Nice tech t-shirt and a minimalist medal which is quite classy. Can't comment on the post race food and drink (I don't feel hungry straight afterwards) although the queues did seem quite long. On the other hand plenty of toilets so no queues for them! Overall a good race at a nice venue which should get bigger year after year. Personally I prefer either very flat or very hilly courses but can understand this being many people's favourite marathon. Date of review: September 8, 2013
In short: Pretty flat and fast, good organisation and a good counterpoint to London's "other" marathon! In full: Well stocked food stations, good marshalling (thanks as always guys) and the fastest (mostly) trail marathon course I've done. If you hate road running but want a PB this is for you!
Likewise if you love running next to water this is a good bet. (If you don't mind them getting dirty, road shows are a good bet; though on a wet day trail ones might keep your feet drier.) I'd guess about 70% of the course is on trails with the rest on tarmac and similar. An out and back course with the first 5k beig flat or downhill. The rest is flat (very slight climb up to halfway) until the final 5k where you climb back up through Richmond Park; tough but it gives you a chance to pass people who have started walking; always a good motivator!
The only downsides were a pretty hopeless PA system at the start, having to dodge people on the bridge at halfway and parking on the road that meant a (potentially) long walk to registration (and having to dodge runners on the way home). None were big issues though and the good price, nice range of food during and after, available showers and very nice medal all more than compensate.
Very few spectators but there's plenty of big races if you want crowds, and kudos to the ladies cheering at halfway and the finish line: great atmosphere!
Bins 200m after drinks stations would be good so we can dispose of cups while running having drunk properly, and personally I love a '400m to go' board at the end, but overall a good event that's well worth doing. Proof that you don't have to get lucky in a ballot to run a good marathon in London! Date of review: August 25, 2013
In short: Killer route, so much harder in reality than on paper! In full: Apart from lack of signage for the carpark and which queue to join when collecting the numbers the organisation was very good for a first time event. Well marked course (and it needed to be) and the best marshals I've encountered. Looking up your name and cheering you on individually was a lovely touch. Also the food stations were very well stocked (again just as well!) Also the route was the most attractive runs I've done in the UK. The views from Solsbury Hill alone were wonderful.
But... it was extreme in places. I like 'tough' but I do see marathons as running events and there were places which I just counldn't run; whether due to super-steep climbs or even steeper descents. Of course this could just be me coming up short, but I did the South Downs marathon (technically more climbing but possible to run all of it) in June and loved it; this one took 40mins longer but didn't feel as satisfying as a challenge. However that's personal preference really (though a route with less severe descents would be much nicer IMO). If you like them tough, this should be on your list. Just don't expect to run it all, irrespective of fitness.
Very nice goody bag with a (slate) mat and mug. The route came up long on my Garmin, but they're not 100% accurate people. However I really am sure that the gap between the 26 mile board and the finish was a bit long. Still, at least it was flat!
Not sure if it's the sort of race I'll do again, but for those who like ultra-steep ups and downs it's well worth trying. Date of review: July 28, 2013
In short: Hot & Hilly In full: Friendly marshals and a route that after the first few miles becomes nicely challenging. Seven water stations is a good idea for a summer run, though plastic cups can be harder to get a good drink from while running. Also kudos for getting the results done so quickly; why can't more events do this? Only real downside to event for me is that the tech t-shirts, while nice, were identical to last year. I like the badgers, but how about adding the race date next year at least? Date of review: July 14, 2013
In short: Well organised, with good support for runners in the heat. Decent but there are nicer routes In full: Apart from putting a sign in the overflow carpark showing where to get timing chips could really fault the organisation. Route was fine, undulating with late hills. Wasn't blown away by the scenery. It was generally (at times pretty narrow) trails with the occasional view of the lake; other trail runs offer more imo (next week's Badger Half in Dorking for instance) but each to their own. Very good marshals and plenty of (much needed) water late on. Can't remember seeing a field that seemed to be made up of so many club runners before; but a friendly race so that isn't meant as a negative. Overall I felt is was a well-run, nice event over an unusual distance; but have to admit it was decent rather than fantastic. However it was fairly good value and had a slightly above average goody bag (though no t-shirt or similar souvenir) and a nice bespoke medal. Date of review: July 7, 2013
In short: Scenic, tough and satisfying. A great change from PB-chasing on the road In full: Marathon: Lovely race in superb weather. Tough running on hard stony trails but then muddy ones would have have been worse and it's part of the challenge! Starting as a single wave seemed to work fine. Was surprised so many people walked up the hills, but there did seem to be a lot of ultra runners there; maybe you guys are more relaxed/pragmatic about run-walking than us shorter-distance types! Overall a well organised and good value race. The goody-bag wasn't exciting but no worse than many more expensive events (though mine seems to be second-hand). Nice to get a choice of shirt sizes. Really would be helpful to have bin bags for drinks further along from the stations; it was hard to drink enough before passing the rubbish point. Two big thank you's: one to the marshal who ran after me and returned a gel I'd dropped (the marshals were excellent all round) and one to the runner who kindly stopped to check I was ok when I fell running downhill in front of him: hope I didn't affect your time too much! A very satisfying event, but be warned: it can start you thinking about trying to find even tougher off-road marathons! Date of review: June 8, 2013