In short: Testing scenic run, difficult to get a rhythm In full: This remains very much a low-key, friendly, pleasant and not too testing run from a pretty Sussex village out into the undulating wooded wet claylands of the Weald and back.
There was substantially more road running than last year because the second half of the route, instead of going east through Ardingly College, now heads SE along the Ardingly reservoir road and along a busy B road to get back to Lindfield. This road section is followed by a long trek across very bumpy grass fields, not a good or pleasant running surface at all.
Contrary to what a previous reviewer says, the course does contain significant muddy and slippery stretches in its first half, plus a series of kissing gates and stiles that caused long queues for the runners.
Overall the course was short this year - 5.9miles.
The marshalling however was very good. However, although there was a water table at halfway, there was no water table at the end, and no mementoes. The race doesn't have a UKA licence so doesn't have to adhere to UKA standards. I noticed runners who would be underage for a licensed event. Not many club runners.
Doubtful will do it again next year. Date of review: May 27, 2009
In short: Massive fun run, not a race suited to the average club runner In full: This is a mass start race on a flat out-and-back seafront road course. Only sub-40 minute runners get a separate pen at the front that allows for a relatively unimpeded start. Those of us in the 40-50 minute category, which would include many club runners and vets, were forced to stand jammed together like sardines next to men in gorilla suits and the like awaiting the off. When the start did come it was well over a minute before I was able to move forward at all. The next 2 kilometres were mainly occupied with trying to make forward progress, weaving around masses of walkers and joggers often forming a moving roadblock, jumping on and off pavements, and dodging behind tram shelters. It took me 7 minutes to reach the 1st km mark! Despite the flatness of the course there's little PB potential as your progress is severely hampered by the congestion at the start. Nor could I see where the start line was to take a more accurate time from my own watch. This is much more a fun-run than a race: it doesn't have a UKA licence, so it allows boys & girls aged under 16 to take part and there is no certification that the course is accurately measured. It's well-organised, though for car parking the organisers offer no guidance whatsoever. It's essentially a friendly, welcoming, good-humoured fun-run with a lot of noise and vocal roadside support, all of which helps to take your mind off the rather grim-looking promenade and seafront you run along. Date of review: May 11, 2009
In short: Enjoyable well-organised off-road 10K In full: Pleasant, well-organised 10K. Comprehensive, good, friendly marshalling. Potential for a fast 10K time. Distance markers this year were more accurate (though our Garmin GPS measured the 6th km as 0.9km); the course overall was a pretty accurate 10km. The course crosses roads in Southwater at 3 points, which are well marshalled, though I was disappointed that I was obliged to wait over half a minute at a pedestrian crossing on the exit from the village because marshals were forced to let a long queue of traffic through. The organisers may wish to consider involving the police in controlling these road crossings, and/or - given the amount of traffic around Southwater - starting the race earlier; starting even half an hour earlier could make a difference. Date of review: March 29, 2009
In short: Beautiful testing run, but significantly short of advertised distance In full: This was a well-organised run over hilly terrain in lovely surroundings. It was pleasantly relaxed and low key, and everyone was nice and friendly. Yes the course was - as the organisers acknowledged afterwards - significantly short - 4.9 miles instead of 6.2 allegedly because "dog-walkers" had interfered with the signage (no doubt the organisers will learn from this and next year check the course immediately before the race). But this did not detract from what proved to be a really enjoyable run. The facilities at the Charterhouse sports centre were excellent and parking was very good. Altogether a very successful inaugural race -we very much look forward to returning to do it again next year (hopefully over 10K!). Date of review: March 22, 2009
In short: Lovely setting, start could be better organised In full: Parking a big problem & caused the start to be delayed by 15 mins. Start poorly organised. Didn't hear any starting gun/noise. Congested narrow start meant it took half a minute to cross the start line and for minutes after that was blocked by slower runners. Organisers need to think about a wider start and getting runners to line up according to their expected finish times. Results slow to appear - still not available 24 hours later. Despite lack of results prize presentation was made after the race, but race director managed to insult veteran female runners by suggesting the O55 winner was still out on the course! In fact the woman concerned - a former UK veterans XC champion - was in front of him waiting for her prize! Lots of fun runners, not many club runners. Nevertheless, this remains an enjoyable race over an undemanding multi-terrain course in lovely surroundings. Course no longer short - now seems an accurate 10K - so well done for that. Date of review: March 16, 2009
In short: Well-organised fast urban road race, not scenic In full: As ever this was a slickly organised race by the 26.2 club, and congratulations to them for all their efforts. This is a fast, mostly flat road course with PB potential on suburban roads, and good marshalling was necessary to protect the runners on roads and at junctions, but it's not scenic, and the last 3 kms through Chessington on pavements and avoiding street furniture are uninspiring. Disappointments for me were the organisation of the finish funnel, where the marshals allowed two runners to jump ahead of me after the finish line, which I suspect will affect my result; lack of good food and drink after the finish at the new Race HQ; and (a minor point really) a couple of iffy km markers, with the 3rd seemingly long by 90 metres according to our GPS, and the final km short by 54kms, and the whole course slightly long (if you believe GPS is reasonably accurate). Overall, a very good race that I would recommend to those who like to run fast as they can concentrating on the road ahead of them and on the competitors around them rather than to whose who would prefer simply to admire the passing scenery. Date of review: February 15, 2009
In short: Well-organised, hilly 10K In full: Hilly 2-lap road 10K with plenty of variety in a lap of two halves - urban on the downhill half, and rural on the long sometimes very steep uphill half up Palesgate Lane from the ford. Well-organised, very well marshalled, race HQ with good facilities. The two site set-up (start/car-park located about 15 mins away from finish/race HQ) is a bit of a nuisance but at least you can get from one to the other along a well-signposted off-road footpath. One suggestion: would strongly urge toilet facilities are provided at the start as well as at the race HQ. Date of review: December 1, 2008
In short: Testing hilly scenic XC run in Sussex countryside In full: This is a low-profile, friendly, well-organised (with comprehensive marshalling and signage) fun run. 6.7 miles long on GPS, it starts from the pretty village of Lindfield and heads out into woods and fields of the Sussex Weald. Varied running surfaces from tarmac and hard paths to grass footpaths and ploughed fields, and constantly varying scenery. Very up and down. Very muddy in places. Many stiles and kissing gates - too many to count - so all in all no PB, but the run itself compensates. Negative points are tardiness in putting the results online (they're still not there as I write), and meagre refreshments available at the end. But overall everyone I saw had a good time, inspite of inclement Bank Holiday weather. Date of review: May 30, 2008
In short: Challenging multi-terrain race in beautiful surroundings In full: Very attractive setting for a challenging multi-surface race that was run, this year, in brutally hot, energy-sapping conditions. The race takes place entirely within the deer park surrounding Knole House. It's undulating with seemingly more ups than downs, and even in cool conditions it would be challenging. This year the route has been changed: after a flat 200m start, a hairpin followed by a steady climb sets the tone for the rest of the race. The route later goes round a loop twice at the end of the park, including a short sharp climb that reduced most people including myself to a laboured walk. Not a PB course then, but the lovely scenery compensates amply (though on Sunday the lack of tree cover to protect runners from the sun was noticeable - but you can't have everything!). Much of the race reminded me of Surrey league cross-country runs in Richmond Park, although one difference is that at Sevenoaks the route takes in a range of surfaces - not just grass, but quite a lot of asphalt, rough concrete paths and well worn, uneven tracks. In the dry conditions, flat running shoes rather than cross-county studded shoes were definitely the best choice. The race overall was well organised. There was comprehensive, friendly marshalling. The two water tables with helpers handing out cups of water and wet sponges were very welcome in the hot conditions, though for me, wilting in the sun from the off, a water table earlier than 2.5 miles would have been nice. Finally, congratulations to Sevenoaks AC for getting the race results online so quickly, within a few hours of the race ending - other race organisers please note! Date of review: May 12, 2008
In short: An enjoyable, low key, attractive 10k multiterrain race. In full: I really enjoyed this race. It was well organised, well marshalled, scenic, low key and stress free. It starts and finishes in the imposing Victorian quadrangle of Christ’s Hospital boarding school, which is situated in attractive countryside south of Horsham. There is ample car parking at the school close to the start (and the train station is close by). The course is essentially out-and-back, rural, and multi-terrain, combining ashphalt surfaces in the school’s grounds and in the village of Southwater (the turnround point) with the compacted gravel of the Downs Link and a very short stretch of grass field.
The outward leg first took the runners along a tarmac drive along the southern edge of the school grounds before joining the straight and flat Downs Link (a disused railway that’s now part of the national cycle network) and followed that for several kilometres to reach Southwater. Here the course looped through the surprisingly hilly Southwater country park before we returned along the Downs Link to finish with a short sprint along the school’s central avenue into the quadrangle. It’s a largely traffic free course; there are two or three road crossings to negotiate in Southwater, but the capable and friendly marshals helped us to negotiate these safely.
The wet weather of recent weeks had made the surface of the Downs Link very wet and in places very muddy. After a short time I, like many others, gave up avoiding the pools of water and mud and plough on regardless – so lots of muddy legs at the finish! While I suspect such wet and muddy conditions might be unusual for this course, trail or studded cross-country shoes were on the day definitely more suitable than flats.
The race caters for a wide range of standards of runner. I liked the nice goody bag at the end containing banana, chewy bar, bottle of water and commemorative mug – a partial compensation for the rather steep entry fee (£12 on the day). After the race you could go to the leisure centre (race HQ) to have refreshments in the coffee shop.
One minor issue I found was the kilometre markers – I’m not sure they were all there, and some of the ones that were there didn’t seem correctly placed when later we looked at our GPS records (e.g. the final kilometre was a long kilometre, and that’s not a comment on the way I was feeling at the time!).
Overall, a really pleasant and enjoyable race which I hope to do again next year. Congratulations to the organisers, Mel’s Milers.