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
In short: November better than October! Keep improving! In full: Many of the problems of October have been sorted out: the course is now the correct distance, the start and finish on the path. There were bananas(and biscuits) at the end, and a really welcome return from the encouraging man with the megaphone at the end of the race (he says sprint, I sprint...I wish I had him at every race to encourage me, and I really missed him last month!).
Unfortunately, the problems with the hub haven't been ironed out (it opened late), there were massive queues for timing chips still - and no clear indication as to which queue to stand in if you already had your number. The race started 15 minutes late because of the hub's closure, which was fine: but it would have been lovely to have been told this by regular megaphone announcements rather than by word of mouth among runners. Date of review: November 3, 2013
In short: 2013: Boiling! In full: Hilly (but don't say they didn't warn you), lovely scenery, lots of loos (yes, there were queues, but they were good natured queues). The queue for baggage was a bit long, but I've seen far worse.
They need to re-do the race brochure. It's essentially a copy of the BUPA 10K brochure slightly re-written, and cups of water rather than bottles is disconcerting (and hard to drink from).
Stunningly lovely enthusiastic cadets as marshalls round the course.
I had a mega asthma attack, so didn't enjoy this one as much as I might have. Apart from the final straight, which was magic. It was definitely a challenge - and I'm glad I did it. Date of review: October 7, 2013
In short: New organisers: bad! In full: I've been running this series, winter and summer, for 3 years now. The winter series has just changed organiser, and, oh, I hope it gets better in November.
The price went up by 50%. For this, we got a course that was too long (this was obvious - there is a loop near the boating pond that needs to be cut off on one lap in order to make the correct distance), there was no clock, no lap timings, the pads to record times were on grass, not the path (that was kinda damp in October), the start and end was shifted 20 yards further down the established course so there was a junction of paths just as you're getting into your final sprint (dangerous). No bananas at the end as in previous races, no enthusastically yelled encouragement as we approach the finish, no clear directions about which side to run on if a finisher/doing another lap, a course director who felt it was acceptable to face away from the runners to talk to us, who mumbled through the megaphone, and who didn't bother to apologise for the late start. Yes, it was only 6 minutes or so late (and to be expected if the Hub hadn't been opened early so we could use the loos/store bags in lockers, but that's not the point).
The only thing that's keeping me going back for the next one is that I've paid for the whole series - like I usually do. Plus, they might just learn from the experience. Date of review: October 6, 2013