In short: Good Race, but could've been so much more In full: Lets be clear, this race includes a small part of Hadrian's Wall, certainly far less than the advertising would have you believe. I hate to be down about the event, but it gave me expectations that it did not deliver on.
Roads, for one. There were lots of them, too many. There was more than one stretch on a very busy road, which as several large lorries past by, made me feel very uneasy. Despite the briefing being clear that people should run on the same side as the markers. They persisted to run on the right into oncoming traffic, even on blind bends. An extremely dangerous endeavour and I saw more than one near miss as a result. There was no fruit, whatsoever, other than the odd banana. Added to that far too many sweets. They refused to fill water bottles at water stops (oddly named checkpoints, when they did not checking). Food was good, but unfortunately seemed to be themed. Thus for me I ate at the first and last Pit Stop and couldn't stomach the stuff at the rest, where as some I ran with for a while had the opposite problem. If they'd have had it all (in less quantity) at each stop, it would've been better for everyone. Called 'The Wall' I think in total we saw about 5-10 miles of it, which out of 69 miles seems a little light. Mileage marking was thin on the ground, what there was woefully inaccurate. I'm not sure if it was intentional, but it merely succeed in angering people.
All this said organisation was pretty sound otherwise. Although my bags were in 2 different places in the room at the end. Marshals were exceedingly friendly, helpful and encouraging.
The T-shirt is fantastic, the medals ok. The feeling of achievement - priceless.
I doubt I will do this again, although I know there are plenty that do. It's a race worth doing, just perhaps don't make it your dream event. Date of review: June 28, 2016
In short: Fast course, by the sea In full: Really flat course, showing off some of the best of the city. Really lovely running the second half right on the prom. Great support from the locals and an abundance of marshals. Slightly annoying queue at the end for the goody bag. But finishing in the city centre, gives so many pub options!! Date of review: June 28, 2016
In short: Rural racing at it's best - in fact any racing at it's best In full: I have done many White Star Events in the past, but not this one. I think they are all fantastic, but some of the routes tend to link with races I have done before. So I turned up to Giants Head, with a little bit of scepticism. That was quickly blown away. This race is an absolute jewel. If you haven't done a White Star event - you must do one. Perhaps leave this one until last, because nothing will ever compare again.
Set in a beautiful Dorset village, you feel so welcome from the outset. It feels like all your family and friends have turned up for a party. As you head out, that feeling rarely, if ever changes. The challenging hilly route drifts by with stunning views and friendly smiling faces and wonderful regular aid stations with plenty to keep you perky.
I could go on and on and on, but you really need to find out for yourself. Even a heavy but brief rain shower couldn't wash away peoples joyous spirits.
Come the end and you're hand an awesome medal and fab T-shirt. The queue for the worlds biggest ice cream.
One word of warning however, don't leave home without insect repellent. Even the horseflies are friendly....too bloody friendly! Date of review: June 28, 2016
In short: VLM watch out White Star Got You Licked In full: I really can't give enough praise to White Star Running. If I were to organise a marathon, 29 miler or half this is the way I would do it. As a runner, you truly feel centre of attention, you've paid your money and they want you to go away feeling it was worth every penny. The scenery is fantastic. The aid stations are brilliant. No that is unjust, the aid stations are awesome, the Lovestation is, well, cracking. Which ever distance you choose, the Larmer races are a day out with friends. Racing is there, in fact like I said it is whatever you want it to be. You wanna crack on and win a great, hardcore trail race - go for it. You wanna chug along, for some training and sights - brill. You wannna social jolly with friends, with fun, cake and alcohol thrown in - you are well catered for! If you haven't done this race, you must, no choice put it in your calendar and make sure you're there next year. You probably ain't gonna manage a PB, but you will have the best day I promise. Date of review: March 16, 2016
In short: If Carlsberg did races. They'd give up because this is better In full: Hot, aggressive foliage, undulating ground verging on really hilly, rutted fields. It all sounds like absolute hell. Do not be fooled. This is how it should be! Every runner, every marshall, every spectator, every aid station, every sarcastic sign are all there to make it feel special. No PB's are not on the cards, but who cares. This is a running event to be savoured and enjoyed and most importantly to be achieved. As a runner you are so well looked after and the encouragement and support in many ways is better than a million people in the centre of London.
If you are looking for a 1st or 101st marathon to do or any other number sign up to a White Star Running one. I did the Larmer Tree in March and came back for this one, both completely blew me away. I've done London, Abingdon and Yeovil!!! Among others, but this is my favourite. Date of review: July 20, 2015
In short: Challenging course but not a killer, with plenty to look at. In full: Really well run and organised, the fuel stations were plentiful and well stocked. The signage was great (although some idiots at the front got a little lost, which was amusing for us mid packers when they came running back to the proper course!!). The Marshalls were numerous and helpful. The scenery was a nice distraction, the course is undulating and a challenge, but not so much that you feel you should have packed hiking gear. There was a little more road than I was expecting, but the vast majority was on trails. It was a little crowded in the first mile or two. This was an issue for me as I was running with a dog and it made it near impossible to overtake. It also meant I was spending time making sure the dog didn't trip anyone.
They are my only (slight) crumbles. This is a fantastic set of races and I would strongly recommend giving it a go at any distance. Plus the after race food (free btw) was superb and plenty to choose from. Date of review: March 18, 2015
In short: Really hilly, great views and warm welcome In full: Not a chance of a PB, but a brilliant (mainly off-road) picturesque little route. Especially good as a short sharp after Christmas beating. Helps alleviate some of the guilt. Date of review: December 28, 2014
In short: Shambolic organisation this year, please improve quick! In full: I will try to avoid ranting. Before I start my review of the 2014 race, I want to be clear that OHM charge £32 for (affiliated) entry putting it at mid-high price bracket. It has also been running for 4 years, therefore teething problems should be sorted by now.
Entering through the website was very straight forward, although if you are affiliate athlete make sure you know your number. Entry pack arrive in good time with everything you’d expect. So start day arrived, an early start I arrive in Oxford outside the Kassam Stadium at 7:50. There is an option to park at the stadium for a prior charge. I had not paid the charge, but stupidly put the wrong postcode from the pre-race leaflet in my sat-nav. I re-checked the leaflet, and followed the new directions the 2 miles or so to the Park & Ride. This journey (according to the nav should take no more than 10 minutes). (Not a complaint at this point, my own silly mistake). I got to the ring road and with in ¾ mile of the turning with in about 5 minutes. The rest of the journey took 1 hour 10 minutes. With only one Park & Ride, the majority of runners appeared to be heading for it from 3 different directions converging on one entrance. The obvious result was a huge tail back in all directions. I then joined a massive queue for a bus. I would seem that the buses had to come in the same way of the cars! Thus they were sporadic at best. Hundreds (I am not exaggerating) of runners were still queuing for buses as I finally boarded mine and we set off for the start. We were dropped, not at the advertised drop off but, at a housing estate a short walk away. The time now being 9:35 (scheduled start was 9:30). Rumors spread that the race had been put back, this was confirmed as we arrived at the ‘Runners Village’ by some of the marshalls. We were told until 10am. So I went to find a cubical to relieve myself. However, the one toilet had only one (male) cubical, which had run out of paper! I later saw some porta-potties, but by then it was too late. So I went put my bag into the secure tent, the attendant was very helpful, taking my bag and pointing out where to pick it up. I, along with many others, were then hurried to the start. I arrived at 10am, however, the vast majority had already been sent on their way (over 10 minutes before, I later found out). For those that have not raced Oxford before, it is not the most picturesque . The majority is on roads around the more industrial areas, there is very little (if any) of the more inviting sights of the city centre. I was prepared for this, but I think the flat course and good spectator along with a lovely few miles along the river Thames, help make up for that. (Although passing is difficult along the side of the river). Oh and not to forget the Bannister mile, though not a wonder to behold, there is something very uplifting and nostalgic about treading the hallowed ground. The website claims it is a ‘traffic free’ race. Well, I would dispute this comment; there is traffic along long stretches of the route. I do concede, however, that there is a section of road coned off for runners so the is a safety gap. Marshalls are enthusiastic and do a grand job, although they are a little sporadic at some points. Water stations could be more regular too. This is only a minor issue though. So to the finish, which is at the Kassam stadium. It’s a great place to end because it means friends and family can cheer you in on the (plentiful) covered seating. As I walked to the through to the goody bags I realised it was the same organisers as at Bath half. The medal was fine, but the T-shirt, what can I say, very basic white cotton with an awful design. Why can’t they do a technical T-shirt (like 2 years ago) or at least put some effort into it. Perhaps do something different, like a towel, pullover, mug or something. The goody bag, as well, was nearly empty save some leaflets and toothpaste?! I had got a PB, by chip-time although nowhere near by the gun! I wandered through the runners village, a total of around 5 marquees and ventured to the line waiting for the buses. Things hadn’t improved! The line was so long, once again no buses, I decided to walk back to the car (roughly two miles). I left Oxford feeling thoroughly disappointed, despite the PB. For an event that is in it’s 4th year, at the price they charge, it really has a long way to go in the organizational stakes. But, the one thing it has to sort is the Park & Ride. That can’t happened again. My suggestion would be to have two locations (at least), it would certainly relive the traffic, which would enable the buses to run more efficiently. There is nothing more frustrating than not being there for the start of the race. I know some people didn’t even make it across the start line. I do want to love and recommend this event, but I can’t.
In short: Expensive, but good fun.T-shirt issue sorted! In full: Had a great time despite the no so great weather. The crowds really made the event, cheering all the way and more jelly babies than you could eat in a month! Slight grievance about being stood around waiting in a long queue to get medals and goody bags/ T-shirt. The goody bag was fantastic though, with plenty of food and drink. Shame the price is so steep, but worth doing at least once, with a really quick course! Date of review: March 5, 2014