In short: Bolton 10K - taming the psycho-path! In full: Different course this year, and the infamous climb up Radcliffe Road was nowhere to be seen. Instead, a two-lap course almost entirely contained within Leverhulme Park provided the setting for the Bolton 10K.
It wouldn't be a race in Bolton without a tough hill somewhere, and the hill was quite steep but short. I felt the course was quite fast and flat, but the changes in surface (track to trail to cobble to tarmac etc.), the relative narrowness in places (especially turning into the only residential section of the course down a few steps) and the somewhat wet conditions made it somewhat tougher. Still, it seemed far easier to me compared to last year at least.
The calling out of names when coming into the finish was a nice touch and the more compact nature of the course meant there was more support all the way around. Also, the finish was well-organised with T-shirts, sweets and timing chips being given / taken away. Last year there was a bit of rummaging through boxes, so credit to the organisers for working on this.
As I said in the reviews last year, this is my local run. I think they've improved the organisation, but the new course is an acquired taste. It is fast and flat and a bit more dependent on the weather conditions in terms of really making a good time. If I hadn't had a problem with the chip ties I felt I could have ran very close to a personal best (did 46:03, so just under 45 seconds away).
Still, it's a good-value, accessible and most importantly fun event. It doesn't try to be anything else and long may it remain so.
See you on the starting line next year. Date of review: April 29, 2012
In short: Orme-inous! In full: This was my first half-marathon and I summoned up the will to do so after reading the reviews for last year. Also, it gave me enough time to prepare reasonably thoroughly and gave me an excuse to get plenty of hill work in, as the Great Orme is a tough test with two miles of pretty frequent climb.
It's said to be one of the most scenic half-marathons. Undoubtedly. We got lucky with the weather but the views out to sea were splendid irrespective of the direction. Coming back down the Orme was breathtaking with the whole estuary out in front of you.
Marshals were encouraging and there were people most of the way around. The course is obvioualy dominated by the Great Orme, but changes in surface also posed a challenge - especially the gravelly and sandy cycle track from Deganwy to Llandudno.
Finish was well-organised with water at the finish line, and the t-shirts and medals were picked up quickly (very nice medal). The copious supplies of chocolate biscuits afterwards was a nice touch. The only glaring organisational weakness was the relative lack of portable loos.
As this was my first half-marathon I was happy just to set a time and beat it (just, I aimed for 1:45, and got 1:44:11). I don't think it's PB material though as the hills and surfaces can slowly sap it out of you.
Time permitting, I'll be back next year, and can only recommend it to others. Date of review: November 20, 2011
In full: Went into this race hoping for a new PB and was advised not to try for it due to the crowds. As it happened I just sneaked one by eight seconds (45:56).
This race is not a cheap thrill by any means, but money alone doesn't explain the thrill of being in the middle with the crowds just cheering and roaring everyone on. That is priceless and the best bit.
The course is very flat and the biggest problem was weaving. I was probably a problem for the good club runners even though I got around in under 46 minutes so if you overtook a shortish guy in a blue T-shirt and white shorts in the orange wave, then apologies!
This is less of a run and more of an event with the City Games and the Salford Swim. I'd urge everyone to do this run at least once. I'll see you at the line next year, hopefully! Date of review: August 13, 2011
In full: This was my first 10K with chip timing. The course was quite twisty and undulating, but only a problem if you flew out too fast early on. I did, and struggled up the second hill in particular around Radcliffe Road.
I don't think the course is that difficult (I live locally), but it does require reasonable judgement of pace so it is a good test for a beginner, but not one to be fearful of. Will definitely be back next year. Date of review: August 13, 2011