In short: A great, challenging trail half. Well worth a go. In full: This is as close as I get to a home race, so surprisingly my first time at this event. I've got to say, having run though these woods hundreds of times, I don't recall it having that many hills! I'm low on training so it was hard going for the time I was aiming at but was well worth it.
The race itself, 13 miles through some lovely Lincolnshire woodland with all you'd expect from a good trail run. Varied ground, hills, mud, excellent stuff. Considering the size of Bourne Woods it's natural to expect a loop or three but given the woodland this isn't a terrible thing. Organisation is minimal but very encouraging stewards and good directions. Regular water spots (cups but hey ho) and a nice friendly atmosphere. The run is a good challenge for anyone, I'm so glad I did it and will be back again and again. Date of review: June 11, 2012
In short: By no means easy, but well worth the effort In full: My brother invited me to this as he lives nearby, I checked the route and thought why not it looks a good, short (7.25M) but probably a bit steep course with a bit of novelty mud and river crossings for a laugh. In the end I would say I was guilty of rather underestimating it.
It's down towards Exeter so you know its going to be a bit hilly. But I saw the hill from a good few miles away. Race was a downhill for half a mile and then it just climbed and climbed through some road, then a lovely bit of sludgy woodland, then a seemingly endless ascent through more mud, rocks and woodland. The views off the hill were phenomenal scenes of rolling English countryside. Just when I crested the hill and descended the view was breathtaking, then abruptly turned off and we went straight back up the hill again. Very tough going, but good, gritty fun. The ascents were tough, the descents were also steep and tricky and led straight to the first limbo through a massive, muddy puddle. Then a lovely descent through farms, narrow country lanes, orchards and a lovely flower lined lane.
Then the last mile or two with a handful of turnstiles, some banking and two and a half river crossings before a final sharp hill to the finish.
Exhausting, challenging, awesome. I had a smile on my face for about 3/4 of the race. If you've got a good level of fitness and love a bit of messy racing you will love, and I mean LOVE, this. Don't come for a goody bag or a fancy medal, come here for the pure love of great countryside, a bit of comedy getting soaked and muddy and most importantly some good, challenging, cross country running. I'll be back next year, no doubt. Perhaps with a bit more hill training before the next one...
In short: Fantastic support, well done Brighton In full: First and foremost I have to say what great support this race got. The crowds were phenomenal along the waterfront on the three passes the Marathon takes. The last stretch of two miles or so was superb. The course from my perspective, organisation was excellent with frequest water stations with clever water pouches rather than bottles flying everywhere. Some vocally supportive bods handing them out, thanks so much. Energy crinks, gels in abundance, sweeties etc. The coast road was fantastic, wide and easy to run abetted by some lovely weather (perfect for running). Good course with a few ascents to test the will, nothing crazy and quite a fast course (my second faster Marathon time).
At the end, a nice medal, t-shirt, fruit and goodie bag plus a kindly steward wrapping you up in a space blanket. Excellent.
Now the constructive criticism: There were some London Marathon level queues for the toilets and not so many on course, as a bloke I could nip off into a hedge but not so lucky for others. More bogs please! The loop out round the power station is ugly, smelly and unpleasant. Running through a factory yard is plain peculiar especially after 20 odd miles of coastal air. I liked the rest of the course (even drab Hove)but it would be excellent if there was an alternative to the power station bit. Mile markers out a bit, but that could be garmin / zig-zagging. I had 26.45 on my garmin at the end.
In short: Beautiful scenery, challenging in a good way. Well worth it In full: Definitely a bit of a challening one, certainly on the upper end of undulating to the point of being hilly (especially the middle double loop of the island bit). Was hard work but scored a PB by 4 minutes of which I am extremely proud. The support was great from the locals, runners were friendly, and showed off Rutland Water and surroundings in their full autumnal splendour. Definitely hilly, but in a good, challenging way that will make you proud to finish it. For a small, off the beaten track race it has friendly marshalls, locals and supporters in the right spots.
Downsides, It is a bit of a pricy race for the organisation and goody bag. It's a good 20+ minute walk to the start line from the car park (surely a route reshuffle to iron that out is possible?). My deep antipathy to water cups at the drinks stations instead of bottles too. The distance markers every three miles were pretty far out if my garmin is to be believed. I was generally under for every marker up to 24 miles, where suddenly I was half a mile over, then finished with my garmin saying I was under again.
These are little logistical issues though, all in all I would recommend this to anyone. Just be prepared for some testing 'undulation'
In short: Terrible organisation, nice views, odd course In full: I went to Edinburgh with high expectations and was a bit disappointed. The race only spent a few miles in Edinburgh (a beautiful city, seems such a waste not to take in some scenery on the run). Very windy this year so probably less PBs, but all sorts of issues. The route, while on the sea, is picturesque and smells great (sea air and all that). But seems to meander out to nowhere and start dropping in cone turns, it just seems to lack imagination. The mile markers were seemingly random, I can only imagine I missed a load as I ran most of the race trusting my garmin. The road surfaces were very patchy in some areas with potential for twisted ankles, that back road after the first loop specifically. The worse part was the ability of people to watch the race and support the runners. Alot of it is out in the middle of nowhere so precious little support. With a cruel headwind on the way back this was sorely missed. It got better but the end was a shambles. My supporters couldn't get into the finish area to cheer me over the line as the stewards were not allowing entry, and by god did I need a pep by the end. The grandstand was deserted and it was a painful long walk through to get the medals and a rather stingy goody bag, considering the entry fee. Trying to get through to the reunion area was a total logjam of people. I ended up climbing over a wall and through some woods to avoid standing there for 30 minutes. The reunion area was a bit disorganised, I think another beer tent may be needed to quench us poor knackered runners quicker! Getting out of Musselborough was even worse. My legs weren't fond of the 30 minute walk to the station to get the once hourly train to Ed'boro. Gladly avoided the massive queues for the buses. All in all, it felt like a bit of a lonely run. I think the route and location needs a big old rethink if this is to be the Edinburgh marathon. It should start and finish in Edinburgh at the least, in terms of logistics it was a pain in the bum. Until the route/organisation changes I wouldn't do this run again. Shame, as those sea views and running round Arthur's seat were great. THere's a huge castle and alot of other lovely buildings to see and they're wasted. The success of London is partly built on the historical landmarks you get to run round. Edinburgh should do the same. Date of review: May 23, 2011