In short: Great atmosphere, but a little chaotic! In full: Good points: Nice flat course - great for an early season PB attempt. Fantastic atmosphere, enthusiastic crowds and marshals. Basic organisation - loos, bag drop etc seems to function fine.
Bad points: As some others have pointed out, the race may have reached it's capacity. The start area was very congested and the hall was full to bursting. I'd hate to be doing this race in bad weather.
For an event with 2,500 runners it was a shame that a lot of it was on open roads i.e not closed to traffic. The marshals did a good job of managing side traffic but far too often I had to check behind me to ensure there wasn't a car coming up my ass! Towards the end they were telling us to run on the pavement, but this often meant overlapping with spectators. I realise it is not always possible to fully close roads but it was a shame. Date of review: March 23, 2016
In short: Bit chaotic, good fun, nice route In full: Have done a few events with Energized Sports now and they generally have the same format.
Slightly chaotic start/finish areas (but they start on time which is most important)
Quick, open air bag drops. Good if you are in a hurry. Not so much fun if it is raining though.
Lots of enthusiastic marshals. Good at cheering you on. Not always the best at dealing with traffic - although to be fair that can be a hard task when dealing with London drivers!
Plenty of stuff given to you at the end.
This race was no exception. Course was a mixture of pavements and towpaths. Roads weren't closed but wasn't too much of an issue as most pavements fairly wide. A few back streets but these were generally quiet. Thames towpath is the main draw of this race. As always it gives a great view although as a few have pointed out and I agree with it was a bit bumpy in places. Puddles were fun though!
All in all a pleasant race and not bad value at £24.
In short: A nice new park for London In full: I've not been to this part of town since the Olympics so this was a good chance to see what they have done with the place since that heady summer of 2012!
It's not the largest of parks but the organisers have just about managed to squeeze in a 3 lap 10K route in. Fairly fast too albeit with a few undulations and tight turns. Therefore if you are looking for a real rocket fast course to set a PB I'd still suggest one of the many races in Regents or Hyde park as a better option. All things considered though this is still a very nice place for a run.
Not the cheapest event, £18 via RW (or £17 direct) for a 10K. However it is well organised with all the basics done well. You also get a decent amount of food and stuff given to you at the end. Plus, as it is a series you can save a fair bit of cost by entering more than one of the races. Date of review: November 2, 2014
In short: Top race for London In full: Whilst there are plenty of small races dotted around the M25, a city the size of London is actually somewhat lacking for "big race" half marathons. The only choice you have is the Royal Parks (too crowded, almost impossible to get into if you are not going via a charity place) and Run to the Beat (interesting course, but overpriced, too corporate and poor organisation - also now changed to a 10K!).
At nearly 5,000 runners Ealing has a valiant attempt to try and fill the gap. They make a good job of it too. Organisation was slick, and helped by the fine weather there was plenty of local support and everyone seemed to have a smile on their face.
As somebody has already mentioned, the course isn't bestowed with landmarks or an abundance of leafy parks. Most of it is on residential streets. I do understand why though. With this volume of runners you are restricted to roads, certainly in the initial stages. London has a number of races that run through the parks or along the Thames with spectacular scenery but they would never be able to handle this volume of people. It does have some ups and downs that mean if you are looking for a flat course PB it may not be ideal, however they are not too bad and the last 3 miles are flat.
Overall a great race and one I would definitely recommend. Date of review: September 28, 2014
In short: Pleasant with some challenging hills In full: For the race itself, not much more to add to the reviews already posted. Up and down course, scenic and well organised. Rather humid so not super fast, but compared to the furnace that was last year and the fact it it July, conditions for running weren't too bad!
Only thing I want to add is that unfortunately numbers were well down this year, almost by half. Much of this I think was due to the fact that although he race started at 9am, the earliest train from central London didn't arrive until 8.35am. With a 15-20 minute walk to the start from the station, plus the fact you needed to pick up your race number from the venue, travelling by train would not have been a practical option for most people. I realise that this problem arose from SouthEastern Trains pulling their usual nonsense of never ending weekend engineering works over the summer months and can't be blamed on the race organisers as such. I caught the train last year which had a good crowd of runners on it heading to Dartford. Therefore I can assume that a lot of people would have been put off this year (I don't live too far away so was able to find a bus alternative - took a lot longer though). I'm not sure how much the organisers were aware of this, maybe they knew and I'm just stating the obvious! However if they had been able to push the start back a bit, even if just by 30 minutes then the race would have remained a viable option for a much larger group of people.
In short: Great Friendly Race In full: This race attracts a broad range of runners, from complete newbies through to hardcore "100 marathon club" types. This made for a wonderful friendly vibe with plenty of opportunities for interesting conversations on route! Kudos to the guy doing something like 40 marathons in 35 days (with his fastest one being the same as my PB!!).
The race itself was exactly as billed. Mainly off road around the edge of Richmond Park with some nasty short sharp hills thrown in. Combined with the toasty temperatures made for a truly challenging race.
Organisation was top notch for a small event. The marshalls did a great job of managing the traffic, no easy task considering how busy the park gets! Kudos to the cars and bikes too who generally seemed quite happy to stop (bar one t****r who decided to drive at full speed across the centre of a roundabout - still, there's always one I guess!). Everything else seemed to run smoothly. If I have one slight quibble, a couple more signs where the trail forks would have been helpful. It's not so bad early on when people are more clustered up, but by the last lap when your brain is turning to spaghetti I found myself getting confused.
Overall though a great race and one that I would definitely want to come back and have another crack at. Date of review: May 19, 2014
In short: Not bad considering... In full: Hopes initially weren't high.
Course was changed at the last minute (still don't understand fully why - start is nowhere near the boat race??). This meant the scenic riverside route was replaced in large part with nondescript residential roads.
My 3 mile warm up jog to the start then became a bit of an ordeal as the heavens opened meaning I was well and truly soaked when I arrived.
Use of a local youth hostel was handy, however as the previous reviewer has mentioned there was a lack of toilets meaning I made the start with about 30 seconds to spare!
The race itself though was a big improvement. Yes, the course was less scenic but as the organisers promised it was fast and flat. Kingston at 9am is not a busy place and despite the race not being on closed roads most of them could be run along without worry. There was one moderately busy road that needed traversing but the marshals did a good job of managing the crossing points. The marshals in general were very keen and enthusiastic which was a nice plus considering the weather. Plenty of snacks and drinks at the end too! Date of review: April 7, 2014
In short: Good fun! In full: If scenery is your thing then Greenwich Park is pretty much the best you are going to get running in the capital. Mother Nature too was smiling down on us yesterday which was a nice bonus.
Of course, being Greenwich Park the route is not flat. Despite the park being only 2 miles round the edge, the organisers just about managed to squeeze the route into 2 somewhat zigzaggy laps.
Organisation was fine. Everything seemed to work OK. Goody bag had a nice selection of treats in it. Date of review: November 11, 2013
In short: Brilliant! In full: So on my third attempt, I have finally managed to run a marathon without grinding to a halt at 20 miles. A massive PB and Chester 2013 will always have a special place in my heart.
When the biggest criticism I can think of it that the 24 mile marker was a bit early, you know this is a well organised race. From the arrival at the race village to one of the two organisers shaking your hand as you crossed the finish line everything ran like clockwork.
The only (albeit slight) markdown I have given is on beginner friendliness. This is only because, for somebody new to the distance, having a course where the only real ups and downs are in the last 2 miles seems a tad cruel. Not a major issue though and to be honest the amazing crowd support at that stage of the race more than made up for it.
In short: Lovely Run! In full: Clearly there is something in the air around Tonbridge/Tunbridge Wells that makes me run fast. For the second time this year, a run in the pleasant rolling countryside around there as allowed me to take a good chunk out of my PB!
Actually both races have quite a bit in common. Organisation is second to none. Being able to use a large building such as a sports hall or college as race HQ (in this case the K College) is a big benefit. Toilets, changing facilities etc were all readily available.
The course was classic Kent countryside with lots of pretty little villages and tree lined country lanes. It was split about 50:50 flat, undulating. How hard you find this I guess is more a matter of individual preference. I actually thought the course was a bit harder than Tunbridge Wells which basically has one massive hill in the middle but apart from that is largely flat meaning you can plan for it. I found the ups and downs between miles 9 and 12 on this course harder on the legs.
On course support was brilliant. There was one place, Leigh, where it felt like the entire town had come out to cheer you on. The water stops too were entertaining. The local kids were competing with each other to hand the water cups to the runners and they would cheer and whoop wildly if you took theirs. It all added to the great, friendly atmosphere on the day. Date of review: September 23, 2013