In short: The most well organized event I've run In full: I'll start at the start, which was a bit congested. I suspect that this was through no fault of the organisers. Rather, it seemed more the fault of some of the runners lining up just behind the 1:30 marker when they were aiming for 1:45, despite the clear markers! The surface on the racecourse is hardly ideal for running, but it doesn't last for long and what the racecourse start does allow for is lots of portaloos - hardly any queueing, which is unheard of at most events.
It is a little difficult to judge pace for the first two miles, being up, down and up again. 7:20 for the first mile, 6:29 for the second, so if you like to print out pace armbands, you'll need to take this into account. Then it's very gently undulating to about halfway - on average gently uphill, but barely enough to notice.
Good to see energy drinks at the halfway point (though I had taken my own) and timing mats at 10k and halfway (and later at 20k). Then it's flat or downhill almost all the way back, apart from a little bridge over the motorway. I say almost, as there is that evil little hill in the last kilometre. The upside, though, is a town centre finish which is a more than fair trade off in my mind. Besides, the hill in the last kilometre adds, in my mind, to the character of the course.
The finish seemed very well organized with a decent medal, running top and other goodies.
All in all, well organized, friendly support and, despite the last hill, a pretty fast course. (Well, I have to say that after getting a pb right on one of my goal times - 1:30:00. I'm very glad the organizers didn't add the traditional one or two seconds to my watch time when calculating my official chip time!) Date of review: May 14, 2013
In short: Not very rock 'n' roll In full: On the positive side, the course was good - challenging and made more so by the weather - and the drinks stations provided not just water but isotonic drinks (at about 4 and 9 miles) and apparently gels too. The isotonic drink containers weren't the easiest to drink from and tended to spill, but at least it wasn't cups. Water was in bottles - good. Timing mats at 10k and 10 miles were a welcome addition.
On the negative side, access to the starting pens was not easy - it appeared that lots of people had to enter via corral 1 and make their way back through the crowds of runners. The atmosphere on the course was a little lacking - especially for a 'rock 'n' roll' event. While one can't blame people for wanting to stay out of the wind and rain, there also did not seem to be as many bands on the course as advertised. Then, at the end, there didn't seem to be any goody bags - that is, we received water, isotonic drink, power bar, banana, crisps etc. but no bag to put them in!
Finally, with the headline act cancelled, this can't have been much fun for spectators at the start/finish. Not very rock 'n' roll! I'm glad I didn't need to pick up baggage too.
Okay, so it was windy, so some of this can be forgiven. However, the wind had been forecast pretty accurately and one would expect the rock 'n' roll franchise to be experienced enough to be able to handle it. Date of review: April 15, 2013
In short: Good, though some room for improvement. Very windy! In full: The organisers have had no luck with the weather - postponed in 2010 due to ice, howling gales in 2011 and even windier this time around. However, they've done a pretty good job with the organisation of this event.
There were a couple of irritations though. The showground gate nearest the Premier Inn was locked again (seemingly just for the event), necessitating a fairly lengthy diversion. While I was prepared for this after last year, a warning to first timers would be useful. (Last year, we had to run to the start!)
The lineup at the start was very busy and it was difficult to see the 'estimated time' signs to work out where to line up - I had to jump and I am six foot. Making the signs a little taller (and perhaps further apart) would help. The result was a somewhat congested start, with runners of different abilities more mixed up than usual.
Having said that, I still found it an enjoyable race, despite the atrocious wind. After the rather chunky medals of the last two years, this year's was great - perhaps the best of my collection. I expect to enter a fourth (and maybe fifth and sixth) time! Date of review: November 29, 2012
In short: Well organised and scenic In full: Both water and isotonic drinks were in bottles - much better than cups. The bins at each mile post were also very handy - not everyone takes just one sip at each station! (First marathon for me - so a PB!) Date of review: October 12, 2012