In short: Well organised race In full: My 2nd time running this race and I enjoyed it. The venue is good with plenty of facilities and shelter from the bitterly cold wind (although no heating). Parking was easier this year - a short walk as the venue is so huge. Heard of problems getting out but we stayed around for a long time afterwards so did not get caught up in the queues to leave.
Race is 2 laps through country roads and villages, with some stretches on closed main roads. Nice scenery. Didn't feel over crowded and good mix of runners (we were pretty near the back!).
Marshals were really excellent and very encouraging, they must have been freezing standing about in the cold for hours yet they still had a smile on their faces.
Drinks were water in cups and 1 stop for Gatorade (also in cups).
The goodybag was nice as it had plenty of food in it - always good! There was also an energy (Red Bull-style) which wasn't great for immediately after running but perfect for the long drive home when feeling tired). Medal was very nice and chunky :) Massage available afterwards for a donation to charity.
No PB for me as was running with 2 friends quite new to running so stuck at their pace but I would say this is a pretty good course for a PB (last year I got a good time here).
Will probably do it again in the future but it is quite a long way for me to travel so probably not every year. Date of review: November 26, 2013
In short: Really tough - steep hills and miles of cross country In full: Just before you go thinking this is just a hilly road marathon – be warned it's brutal!!
About half of the full marathon is off road including deep mud, wet woodland trails, uneven footing. If it rains take it as a cross country trail run and don’t even think about a PB. Plus very hilly. There is virtually no flat and both the climbs and descents are very steep.
Difficult to get a pace going as as soon as you reach the top you are on the way back down before doing it all over again a mile or two later!) As for Helman's Tor, you almost need hiking poles - one point I had my hands out in front holding onto rocks in front!! Mind you, once the sun came out you get fantastic views from coast to coast of Cornwall.
If you like this sort of thing, this is the race for you. For everyone else, it's an amazing race to add to the bucket list. It was my 5th marathon and I wanted to have a go at a trail race. If you just want to enjoy the beautiful scenery and have no worries about a PB then it's a great one to do (add 25-50 mins to your normal road time to give you an idea!).
The marshals were amazing and kept me going - with the small field of runners many were very spread out and if you were near the back like myself they were the only people you might see for hours at a time. They gave out ups of water and at some stations sweets including jelly babies and chunks of Mars bars. They seemed to know just what runners needed and this is because many are runners themselves from the excellent St Austell running club. They asked me how I was getting on and were very encouraging. The marshal/runner at the back who was looking after the back of the pack runners was great (I was among the last for the first 7 or 8 miles before catching up some others!!) – good to talk to and got us going at a decent pace.
The only drawback was there was not much information given out beforehand. Unless you read last event’s reviews early on you may have not realised that the full marathon really is a trail race (more road/tarmac for the half). For example we received race packs several weeks prior and only then did they recommended wearing trail shoes (which are a must!) - however if you have not bought and worn in trail shoes you may have a problem! Also, they mentioned in the info pack about a cut off time for marathon runners (you had to reach the half marathon/full marathon spit point by 1 hrs 50, which is 7.5 miles). If you got injured and were unable to reach this point in time you were told you would have to take the half route and get a half marathon medal instead. HOWEVER when at mile 7 and about to reach the split (which we did, in time) I was told the full marathon ALSO had a total cut off time of 6 hours. I am sure this was not in the race pack. Re-reading it I see the following “We are enforcing a time limit on the marathon” but it only goes on to talk about the 7.5mile point/1 hr 50 min time limit. 6 hours might sound generous to many but such a tough course means that slower runners would struggle – my last road marathon was just over 5 hours but I was close to the limit here in 5.48 and one or two did go over 6 hours. I am not sure if they got their medal – I do hope so! – but they were included in the results so looks like they classed as official finishers. I just wish that 6 hour limit was stressed well before hand – i.e. when first signing up!! If you are a slower runner and not used to trail races you may wish to confirm this with them next year as it would take you considerably longer than a flat road marathon!
The Eden Project was a fantastic venue, easy to get to and park and they had dedicated one of the main buildings for changing, bags, first aid etc. No showers though so bring a whole pack of baby wipes as you are expected to change before entering the public areas.
Perks of the race included a big medal, tee-shirt (cotton, in various sizes), hot pasty in meat and veggie options, a pint and free entry to the Eden Project for runners and supporters.
I am not sure I will do this one again, purely because it is a long way for me to travel but I really recommend giving it a go at least once, it is tough but well worth it. It’s a great, friendly race where you can just go for the sake of running and just enjoying the Corning countryside rather than chasing a PB. Date of review: October 22, 2013
In short: Good route but poor organisation In full: Have to admit I was surprised at the poor organisation of this race, as I have just taken part in the Blenheim Palace and London Triathlons, which along with RTTB are all organised by Challenger World. The triathlons are first class events, brilliantly well run. So not sure what seems to be the problem with RTTB.
Poor way-finding, over-crowded, expensive, 30 min queue for baggage, no food/snacks/foil blanket at the finish line, unhelpful marshals. Maybe they should stick to triathlons.
I hear they are changing the venue HQ to Greenwich Park this year which may ease some of the problems at the O2 but who knows. I've signed up again as once you get running it's a great course with a brilliant atmosphere - loads of supporters out which just about justifies the £50 entry fee. Fairly fast - got a PB last year. However, I'll be coming "ready to run" so I can avoid the baggage queues and making sure I leave plenty of time incase I get lost trying to find the starting pens again!
If they're using the same Nike tee-shirts as the previous 2 years, they come up slightly large, by the way. It has your number printed on it, so if it doesn't fit, you can either cut the tee-shirt up and pin the number/logo bit on your own vest, or join the long queue for a regular bib on the day. Date of review: August 6, 2013
In short: Best. Race. Ever! In full: What can I say that hasn't been said before! I was so lucky to get a place in this extraordinary and it was worth every long, tough mile in both training and on the day. The crowds are magnificent, the scenery exciting, the atmosphere electric. My first VLM and I would love to get a place again some year. London truly is the world's best city for running. Date of review: July 22, 2013
In short: Great scenery but tough course In full: Reading reviews from 2012, looks like this race has certainly improved it's organisation. All seemed to be fine and I had no problems.
Course was far more challenging than expected. The 20 mile race was 2 identical laps. Not really a road race at all - most was on track with some road and there was about 3-4 miles per lap through mud, boggy marsh and scrub. If it had been dry it probably would have been fine (just hilly) but there had been a lot of rain the week before. It was very tough going here and most people just walked/squelched through these parts. It was also alongside the dual-carriage way so noisy from the cars. I was hoping for a 4 hour time but despite feeling strong I finished in 4.15 as the mud really slowed everyone down! A rather hilly run – both long, shallow uphill climbs and short, steep hills. Not a PB course! Mind you a lot of people were training for a marathon and we all agreed that it was excellent training and hopefully the roads of London/Brighton etc. would seem easy after this!
The race was small, about 150 runners for both the 50K and 20 mile race which took place at the same time. (The half started later, at 2.30pm).This was a surprise as the website gave this impression it was going to be a lot bigger – a whole weekend festival of running. It did feel more like club run though. There was a brief before each distance/race and then we made our way to the start line. They did wait until everyone was on the start line before mentioning iPods though – which were allowed but keep them low-volume and be careful on the roads (if they had banned them at the last minute, I’m not sure what the runners (myself included) would have done with them as there was no time to go back to baggage!!). All the runners were a very friendly bunch, and everyone said hello as they passed, or chatted, and helped each other round. But there were times when I was the only runner in sight and if there was not a marshal for a while I was running completely alone. With the freezing weather, strong biting winds and the open landscape it could at times feel a bit on the lonely side! Marshalls were friendly and supportive and there were a new on bikes as well. Well done to them as they were out there pretty much all day in the cold, in the middle of nowhere! They were pretty much the only spectators though. As there were 2 runs going on in the morning (50K and 20Miles) with the possibility of some runners not finishing when the Half started in the afternoon, they did not put out distance markers. I’m sure they could have managed this though perhaps with different colour boards for each race. I did not find this too much of a problem though but did ask a few people wearing GPS what our distance was. You could roughly work it out from the water stations and the fact that there were 2 laps of 10 miles each. However the marshals didn’t seem to know how far we had left, so with over a mile to go I was told by one guy the finish line was “just around the corner!”, well that and a bit more!!!
Seemed fine at the water/feed stations. 3 stations per lap, with plenty of water. One of them also had snacks – Clif Shot blocks, jelly babies, jelly beans, Clif bars and Macvities Chedders. They always asked how we were feeling and if we were warm enough.
Received a medal, cups of water and jelly babies at the end. The goody bag was basic but you got quite a nice tee-shirt, also a Clif bar (always good to get food) and a £5 Sweatshop voucher which was a nice bonus.
The site was a camping ground, which was very difficult to find. Not really any public transport so car is really the only feasibly way to get there. But there was onsite parking (although muddy) and showers, and a pub! One guy did seem a bit stressed out trying to sort the car park out though! Considering it was meant to be a festival, there wasn’t a lot at the runner’s village – the registration desk, a small Sweatshop tent, cafe marquee and massage. As it was so cold many people sat in their cars with the heater on. I would have gone to the pub afterwards – bet it was lovely after the cold run – but I had a 2 hour drive ahead of me. Chatted to the half marathon runners who were just about to start, had a lot of fun warning them about the mud and hills! Mentioned they might want to wear trail shoes if they had them!
Overall a tough but good weekend, glad I did it! Might do this one again but it was a long drive for me (100 miles so very early start!) and difficult to get to so probably would only do it if I was in the area. Date of review: March 11, 2013
In short: Excellent race, brilliant atmosphere but expensive In full: Really enjoyed this race, mostly due to the huge crowd support. Really made my day - spectators along nearly all of the course and 3-4 deep in some areas. The two laps were fine and it was exciting to watch the elites come past on the other side of the road. Organisation seemed fine, I did not have to queue long for anything such as baggage drop or chip removal. Only thing was that the little information booklet mentioned a Sunday Church service in the runner's village yet no'one seemed to know where this was help so i missed this. Great course, mostly in the city but some quieter areas out of the main roads. Only issue which probably slowed a lot of faster runners was the orange start line was huge and did not have any "sub-pens". Those nearest the start were simply the people who got there first, not the faster orange runners. Probably a lot of later arrivers getting slowed down by people in front! Plenty of drinks (lucozade sport orange 350ml bottles and water, 330ml bottles) although it was a bit frustrating that if you were running the first lap, you were not allowed a drink from the station on the other side of the road where the 2nd lap runners came through. Can see why they did this, but saw a lot of thirsty runners get refused a drink because it was "2nd lap runners only!". Goody bag was nice, the tee-shirt was a large one-size cotton. Medal is a nice smart one. Also got a space blanket, lucozade and water.
I think perhaps get there early as I did as, as it did appear to get very busy later on.
Expensive but well worth it. It was nice to have 2 nights in Bath and I recommend going to the thermal spa afterwards!! Date of review: March 8, 2013
In short: Electric race! Do it at least once! In full: LOVE this race. Big crowds, celebs, the Red Arrows, televised live on the BBC, fantastic fun whether you're going for a PB or just wanting to do your first half. It's a big race, very big - about 45,000 runners, but it copes well (you start on the motorway), plenty of space, facilities (not too long to wait for the loos, no queue for bag drop). A long wait before you actually get over the line, though, but there's plenty of anticipation.
The route has some great parts, such as over the Tyne Bridge (early on - after a few miles) and through some of the nicer residential areas, but a lot is on motorways and dual carriage ways, and through industrial areas. Somewhat undulating, but nothing major.
Best bit is mile 10 onwards when the crowds really come out and depending on your time the Red Arrows are doing (another) display which you can see a long way off. The final mile is amazing, a nice downhill and then flat along the seafront in front of huge crowds.
Finish area is very well organised, with spacious areas for collecting drinks, goodie bags, tag removal etc before entering the Charity and Runner's village. Only drawback was some of the baggage buses were unable to get through to the finish due to the emergency services needing the road so some of the bags were late (I had a bit of a wait for mine).
If you are travelling and staying over, make the most of the Saturday to watch the City Games and enjoy the kid's race, expo and pasta party - the city is practically taken over by the Great North Run! If you get a hotel in the city centre, most hotels will lay on minibuses to the start, or get a taxi if you don't want to walk there about 2-3 miles. The walk from the finish to South Shields is easy and takes about 20 minutes, but beware the very long queues for the metro, and don't expect to be able to sit down on the rammed-full train back to the city centre!
I think everyone should do this once, and if you love crowds, try and go for it more than once, it's a lot of fun! Date of review: February 3, 2013
In short: Fun end-of-year race In full: Enjoyed this one, it was 2 laps of the course. A killer hill halfway through each lap - you knew it was coming the second time round! Small race, about 120 or so runners but friendly. Scenic route, particularly through the villages. Good for a PB if you can pace yourself up the hill (you can make up for it on the way back of each lap!). Date of review: February 3, 2013
In short: Tough but very well organised In full: Very well run race, organised like clockwork, pacers, traffic free, nice scenic course. The hills were a lot tougher than I expected! Fun finish in the park in front of the crowds. Be nice to have a medal, you get a nice tee-shirt but being unisex they rarely fit us ladies! Date of review: February 3, 2013
In short: Well organised, fun race for Boxing Day In full: Good race - 2 laps round the town centre. Well organised and nice atmosphere. Flattish for most of the route however there was a short but steep hill - run mostly on cobbed pavement! A bit of a shock the first time but at least you know it's coming on the second lap. There's a bit of a delay with some of the results coming out, but hopefully they'll be out soon and this was the only minor hiccup. Decent santa medal and water at the finish, plus a £2 voucher for the pub. I travelled about 30 miles each way for this and glad I did - I expect I'll be back next year too. Date of review: December 27, 2012