In short: Hot but great scenery In full: First time doing a trail race and really enjoyed it, even though it was hard work in the heat.
Pros - Well organised and plenty of parking. - Small number of people in each wave (not sure what the max. capacity was for each wave) so quickly into running stride. - Fantastic scenery running through the forest. - Some shade from the heat. - Good marshals. - Packed goody bag.
Cons - Who put that hill at the end?!? - Small waves meant few runners were visible as you ran round the course, which may not appeal to everyone.
Would I recommend it? At the Early Bird price, definitely.
Would I do it again? Roll on 2015... Date of review: June 9, 2014
In short: When the race is this good, who cares about your PB? In full: First time doing this event and really enjoyed it.
Pros - Excellent organisation (bus transfer, number pickup, baggage drop and just about enough portaloos!). - Scenery is superb as you make your way along the river. - Marshalls and volunteers were very encouraging and enthusiastic. - A better-than-your-normal medal at the end.
Cons - As other people have stated there are a few pinch points at the start of the race, so unless you are right at the start of the wave you'll end up walking at some stage. - Watch your footing on the different surfaces, as I managed to roll my ankle by mile 3 (though at least it's more interesting than a pure road race).
More waves could solve the pinch problem (though people were still going off in the wrong coloured wavse yesterday). Or a lap of the field to thin the runners out a little (though then you have to fiddle with the course)?
But, don't less these minor cons put anyone off doing the race. Fantastic scenery, great route and an excellent example of why people run.
I will definitely be back next year. Date of review: July 29, 2013
In short: Excellent race In full: Second year doing this race and really enjoyed it again. The organisation of getting people to the start and into their correct pens was superb, and there were more than enough toilets to keep everyone happy.
I was in Red 'B' and the only real congestion point seemed to be at the first corner of the Mall and after that seemed a good spread. Hoever when I was running back after the 6kms mark looking at all the Green/Blue runners I could see how this could be more of an issue if you were in a wave behind people with 'optimistic' finishing times...
Goody bag in fine (and not really why I turn up personally). Atmosphere and support excellent. Marshals as good as ever. Plus it's not every day you get to high-five Mo Farah as you jog round London...
Will definitely be back... Date of review: May 30, 2013
In short: Great race and support but park and ride needs sorting out... In full: My first Hastings Half and I really enjoyed it, despite the freezing weather.
Pros - Incredible support and atmosphere. I was amazed at the number of spectators who turned up across the vast majority of the course to not only cheer and shout but also play music (including a DJ in his own garden after 6 miles!) and hand out Jelly Babies, oranges and water. As always a massive thanks go to the marshalls as well. How they stay warm for that long I'll never know. - The Park & Ride on the way to the race worked well, with that and other parking options well signposted. - The finish along the waterfront was great and would have been even better had the sun shone! - Good to have a different medal and I think it works well that if you want a souvenir t-shirt etc. then you can buy one after rather than pay a higher entry fee and get one in a goody bag.
Cons - The Park & Ride on the way back was shambolic. There was only one bus and it was taking around 20-30 mins to do a round trip. I waited for an hour in the freezing cold, which is less than ideal at any time, let alone after a 2 hour run. I felt sorry for the people who also had children with them. This needs to be sorted for next year (particularly if the weather is better and there are less drop outs), otherwise people will opt to drive to the start instead.
However, even after the annoyance of getting back to the car the overall day was excellent and I will definitely be back next year. Date of review: March 26, 2013
In short: A good first effort. In full: Overall a really nice run, though very cold.
Pros - Lots of parking within a few minutes walk of the start. - Good warm-up (though not at 0930 so a lot of people were standing around for a while). - Wide section just after the start line to allow runners to spread out. - Very flat route (just one small climb) so PB potential. - Medal, drink and Mars bar (and T-shirt sent in the post) so good value.
Cons - Very exposed for most of the route, so on a cold windy day don't forget your gloves and hat. - No support around the course, but this isn't too important for a 10k.
And obviously when I say 'no support' this isn't counting the marshalls. My appreciation for the volunteers increases tenfold in the conditions yesterday, so a massive thank you to them for standing around a lake and fields for a couple of hours.
My only concern would be how well this would all work if the maximum limit of 1000 people turned up, rather than the 350 this year...
But overall, would definitely do this again. Date of review: February 25, 2013
In short: Great race, shame about the start... In full: Overall this is a really good race, but the start let it down a little.
Pros - Nice, flat course (except for that climb at 7km) so definite PB potential. Indeed you get a 'free' hill as you have to walk up one to get to the start. - Well supported. - Good selection of goodies at the end (Kit Kat, chocolate wafer, Jaffa cake, water). - Nice clubhouse with bar and food afterwards.
Cons - The start was a bit of a disaster. Delay of 10 mins meant the pen system didn't work so the first 2kms were spent dodging round 3-a-breast runners in narrow lanes. - No clear signing on where to get timing chips from (I guessed it was where the long queue was and unfortuntely was correct).
In fairness to the organisers they did announce that runners should start making their way to the start at 1045, but the queues for the toilets and timing chips were too long for that to happen (and also people were still turning up).
However, I will still be back next year as I'm sure the organisers will get it right... Date of review: February 4, 2013
In short: Watch out for those hills... In full: Pros - Lovely scenery: country lanes through the woods and fields. - Enthusiastic marshalls and supporters: given the temperature, full marks go to these people for standing there for so long cheering us on. - Nice and easy first 5k.
Cons - All that downhill in the first 5kms comes back to get you in the second half of the race! Challenging hills, but great training.
Really enjoyable race, though I wasn't thinking that between the 7-9km markers...
First time I'd done this race, but definitely won't be the last. Date of review: January 14, 2013
In short: Well organised and great scenery In full: Second year I have done this and some tweaks from last year made a definite improvement e.g. more toilets, better marking of the off-road section for the 10k runners, better t-shirt. Medal is still a generic 2012 BHF one, so if the medal is important to you then you'll be disappointed (though you could get it engraved for £4). There are indeed a few hills on the course, but this is more than made up for by the scenery as well as the support (though this is clustered around the palace really).
Overall a really good race and will definitely be back next year. Date of review: October 8, 2012
In short: Some teething problems... In full: Negatives - Long queues for the bag drop. - Timing pens didn't work as well as they could. - Very crowded for first couple of kms especially through the zoo and where the footpaths are narrow in the park, so some 'off-roading' required. - Minimal support once you get outside the zoo.
Positives - Zoo entry fee included in the race fee. - Very flat course, so good potential for a PB. - Plenty of room at the zoo car park to avoid last minute rushing/panicking.
Overall an enjoyable race, but a lot of time lost on the first section. Perhaps next year they can release a few waves of people just to space it out a bit more at the start (even though it was only 800 people). Nice to warm down by walking round the zoo afterwards though. Would probably do it again, but more because I have a 2 year old who loves going to the zoo rather than for the run itself. Date of review: September 19, 2012
In short: Great race, well supported and well organised In full: Really enjoyed running this as part of the orange wave. Good crowds all the way round so many thanks to all those who come out to cheer and clap strangers. Well organised and a goody bag at the end that's bursting with snacks to help you recover. T-shirt is a bit dull as is some of the scenery, but would definitely recommend this to new runners.
Looking forward to 2013 already. Date of review: May 21, 2012