In short: Trail-ier than expected In full: Really should have checked the course profile beforehand, and worn trail shoes. This was a KILLER. Measuring a bit long didn't help either. Nor did my lack of preparation.
But, the marshalls were glorious, there were more loos than last year (seriously. I did not have to queue for the loos! Amaaaazing!), and the scenery was really nice and varied. Loved running through West Wycombe Park, and the woods, and the winding roads. Did not enjoy the very last mile at all - it was not as pretty as everywhere else. Plus I was knackered.
Will be back next year - it's excellent value compared to some races I've done, the goody bag was great, the tech top is BRIGHT and it's near my parents' place. I love this sort of race - with hills, and trails, and varied terrain (see Farnham Pilgrim and Leith Hill Half for something similarly tough and slightly more scenic). Date of review: July 23, 2016
In short: When can I enter 2017? In full: This is utterly my favourite half. Tough? Not as hard as I feared the first time round. Brilliant organisation. Lovely lovely people. Jelly sweets! Really encouraging marshalls! And a challenge. It doesn't matter how fast you are. It matters that you make it. And then there's a cooked breakfast at the end (which lasted me all of 3 minutes. I was hungry.). Date of review: March 8, 2016
In short: Glad it started a bit late In full: Once again, there weren't quite enough loos, leading to a delayed start - but this played into our favour, as we got stuck in an awful traffic jam on the M1 en route, and just made it to the start at the anticipated gun time (and I didn't have my chip attached at that point).
Course had suffered from the recent rain, with some really epic puddles to barrel through - you want trail shoes for this one if you've got them. It was ankle deep a couple of times - skirtable, but given the dank conditions generally, not worth skirting round.
It's crowded to start - if you want a PB, you'll have to be right at the front, as there's a bit of a bottleneck but it opens out quickly enough. Some of the route is single track. No problems with mile markers this year, and simply excellent marshals. And I mean excellent: there was a major medical incident going on at mile 11.25 when we got there. The marshals got us past with no major fussing (and managed to get the people who made a wrong turn at that point back before they'd gone too far down the canal). We really hope the runner's safe (it looked very serious). Date of review: December 14, 2015
In short: Did the half marathon. Loved it. In full: Entered on a whim on the Friday before the race, rocked up half an hour beforehand, fantastic organisation of bag drop and registrations. Could have done with a few more loos (but couldn't every race).
Course was fantastic: superb views, lots of variation, some mud, some sand (that was challenging), lots of single track, hills that looked scary on the race profile but were nothing compared with the Leith Hill Half. Lots of marshals, and I managed to not get lost (I feel sad for those who did - I did spot a marshal pelting to a corner, perhaps to sort that issue out, but I can't remember where on the course I was, and I'm a little confused by the whole thing). Did trip up a couple of times on road furniture/kerbs, but no damage done. Definitely doing this one again - lovely atmosphere to wait around in at the end as well. And cakes. And a brass band playing Flashdance - What a Feeling! Date of review: September 14, 2015
In short: Loved it. Well. Apart from that hill... In full: Lovely race, beautifully organised (a few more loos wouldn't go amiss), lots of different scenery in the half marathon. Sponges! (I LOVE me a sponge!). The marshalling was excellent, the water stations well organised (cups), the route challenging and so many people cheering from their front gardens on the way. Definitely doing this one again. Brilliant goodie bag - one of the few where I've been able to eat everything edible in it! And an excellent medal and tech top. Date of review: July 13, 2015
In short: Loved the celebrity starter! In full: Brilliant start by Matt Miller he was really loud, enthusiastic and led us through a lovely warm up stretching session. Shame the race director was so quiet by comparison - no-one could hear her (perhaps a hand-held tannoy next year?). Boiling hot day destroyed the chance of a PB for me, but there was lots of water and finish line goodies. Measured a tad long according to Strava for me and others. Date of review: June 28, 2015
In short: Better than last year In full: I'd rather not have a medal, and have a cheaper race, than the laughable medal they hand out. Other than that, they've sorted out all the organisational problems that blighted the race in 2013/2014, and shouty man is there to encourage you at the end (I love that. My husband hates it). Date of review: January 7, 2015
In short: Water really was an issue in 26 degree heat In full: I wouldn't have made it through this without my camelbak - the water stations were somewhat shambolic. Too far apart, dreadful pouches instead of bottles (ended up inhaling quite a bit of it instead of drinking it, and cut myself as well), and they looked to be running low absurdly early in proceedings. Didn't manage to get an energy drink at all - just saw the evidence of them on the floor (and I was on course for sub-2hours. My only aim was to finish without stopping or walking)
The start pens were also disorganised: and the start was delayed, meaning that we were waiting in full sunlight without explanation.
The last three or four miles had no shade at all, and the number of runners collapsing was shocking. I could see one guy about to go, more-or-less-caught him on the way down, and went into first-aider mode rather than continuing to run. Thank heavens there was a handy shady wall so we could get him out of the heat at that point - a mile further back, and we'd have been stuffed. The paramedics really couldn't keep up at all: they did a fabulous job at getting runners back in the land of the living. Could not fault them. Would fault the organisers for not having enough paramedics on call - they sent lots of emails warning us about the weather: people get stubborn when they're running (and stop thinking when they're dehydrated) and they dropped like flies.
It was also one of those dog-leggy-final four miles (bit like Run to the Beat 2013), purely put together to add distance at the expense of speed. Very disheartening at the end of a race.
Course was gently undulating, no complaints from that point.
Probably wouldn't do it again - but I've not ruled it out completely.
In short: That hill.... In full: The marshalls were excellent, the water stops a godsend (and that they managed to remove the lids of the bottles was superb! No need to worry about slipping on bottle caps). Boiling hot day - and there was no shade on the course, so a fair number of people flagged en route.
Slightly confusing course, particularly when the 10k runners were peeling off in front of the 1/2 marathoners. But the marshalls were clear, and there were lots of spectators cheering and small children handing out jelly babies. Nearly fell over a dog, but you can't have everything.
Really, really, really would have appreciated something more than water at the end: banana, mars bar or sports drink. Didn't enjoy doglegging about to get to the finish line, and I missed a PB by six seconds (which is annoying). Date of review: March 10, 2014