In short: A lovely 10k Road Race In full: Putting the very wet weather a side, I thought this was a cracking 10k road race around Aldridge. It could possibly benefit from one or two more toilets and there was also quite a walk from the car park I used (by the medical centre) to the start. Very friendly marshals and superb organisation - well done to ARC and everyone who stood in the rain allowing the race to take place! A coin / medal, pen, banana and plenty of Revive juice drinks awaited each finisher. I'll definitely put this on the calendar for next year! Date of review: June 7, 2009
In short: Potentially a great Marathon In full: Not sure what was harder; running the marathon or writing this review whilst being honest and subjective.
I have to say that overall I enjoyed my day. It was a hot and tough race and although it was largely downhill / flat, the heat put pay to an ultra fast race. The route was largely outside of Edinburgh, which was a shame, but was nonetheless, a lovely course. A good mix of scenery from city, to parkland, to village, to coastal road, to promenade, to stately home – this had it all it seemed. The printed material prior to the race was excellent, although it was a real shame that proper baggage labels weren’t given (London is a good example of what to do – plastic bag and race number sticker). Chip timing is a must for big races and this one had that. The start was centrally located and very easy to find. There were plenty of baggage lorries (including a late arrival lorry), marshals handing out Vaseline and sun block, free Lucozade drinks and clearly marked out starting pens. The race was looking good…
Unfortunately, now for the negatives. The toilets at the start were totally inadequate for the number of runners (although they were quiet at 7:50 am). A lot of men, myself included, went in the hedges as the toilet queues looked to be about 45+ minutes long! There were no marshals controlling who went in each pen – I was in yellow and there was allsorts of colours in there! I don’t really remember seeing mileage markers at every mile, but the ones that were there all appeared to be slightly out and I measured the course at 26.49 miles (Garmin does have a margin for error though, but even so, this did seem long). All minor criticisms so far, which you’d be prepared to put up with I think.
My first major criticism was with the water; why couldn’t larger bottle have been used? London gave out 500ml Vittel bottles in 2008 and this seemed to work well. This would have removed the need to take two bottles, as you can run and sip from the 500ml bottles – I felt thirsty after drinking only 250ml, it simply wasn’t enough for hot the conditions. And then the whole hoo-hah about running out of water and people having to go without is, from a H&S point of view, worrying to say the least! Regardless of the so called ‘water theft’, the number of 250ml bottles ordered V total numbers of runners V the forecasted hot weather, just didn’t stack up. There appeared never to be enough. Larger bottles would have helped mitigate this I think. Having said that I was lucky to not go without, although at drink station 7, I was told “it’s one bottle per runner as we’re running out!” I felt very dehydrated at this point and needed more than 250ml to keep on running, so I resorted to looking for water bottles on the road – not good! I’ve never seen so many good runners walking before, and so many runners collapsed at the side of the road. The carbo gels didn’t work for me – not enough fluids in my system so they made me feel sick. But there was only one given out anyway, as the second station had run out! I think from memory there was enough Lucozade to go round though.
I wonder why there were no wet sponges or run-trough showers planned for this race? I would have thought that a fire hydrant and hose system could have been utilised at short notice to provide a refreshing shower on such a hot day.
The finish area was one of the most confusing and poorly organised that I have come across so far. The run in was weird as you ran along some plastic ‘lego-like’ mats, that had been ‘clicked’ together. In several places, these had become ‘un-clicked’, so represented a significant trip hazard. The run in also was quite narrow and had a left hand chicane in it, which provided a false finish on the horizon, when the real finish was much further on. I don’t remember seeing any 800m, 400m, 200m countdown signs either. Brilliant roar from the crowd though! Once across the line, it was very, very hard to navigate the finish area – it took me ages to find the exit and I never found the meeting point. Fortunately my supporters saw me! The traffic away from the race course was a total nightmare – so glad we drove and I didn’t have to sit on a bus in that heat!
So to sum up, I enjoyed the race, which like most, have some organisational issues. The trouble with this race is that the bits of organisation that they got wrong, were so bad it was untrue and in the case of the lack of water, potentially life threatening. Would I do it again? Well that’s a definite maybe. I loved the medal (which had a place for your name and time to be engraved on the back), the t-shirt, free beer and goody bag. So there are some positives to report at least! Date of review: June 5, 2009
In short: Another year; another great 10k race! In full: This is my second year running in the 10k race and I wasn't disappointed (despite the horrible wet weather)! This year saw a slightly changed route, again with some cheeky little hills to raise the pulse. Support from the marshals was superb, especially considering the rather heavy rain that fell during the race! A medal, t-shirt and Cadbury's chocolate bar were the spoils for the race, which was also chipped timed. A really nice touch was the text message result within a few minutes of finishing. Seriously, what more could you want from a race? And after all, we all ran to benefit the very worthwhile Cure Leukaemia charity.
My only negatives were about the walk from the car park (car park was changed from 08 and was further from the start / finish) as it wasn’t sign posted very well and we got lost. It was also a shame that the live band and DJ were missing – that provided great atmosphere last year. I know the weather is outside of anybody’s control, but what a pity it wasn’t a nice sunny day like in 08!
Regarding the comments about not getting a medal or t-shirt – maybe these should be given in ‘goody bags’; one per finished runner. Just a thought...
I’ll definitely be back next year and I’ll be hoping for a nice dry sunny day!
In short: Another great year for the DK10K In full: A popular, well organised, enjoyable, mid-week 10K road race through the country lanes around Wall Heath and Enville. Mostly flat, but with a couple of cheeky hills.
A real bonus this year was the recently rebuilt changing facilities at the rugby club. It was a nice surprise to get a hot shower and be able to get changed in comfort after the race!
An engraved wine glass and bottle of water were the spoils for completing the course.
Not much left to say, certainly no negatives, so well done DK for another great race - see you next year! Date of review: May 8, 2009
In short: An enjoyable Half Marathon, if not a bit expensive with a poor finish... In full: I've not been back to Stratford since running the full marathon in 1997. I decided to only run the Half Marathon this year as I'm saving myself for Edinburgh instead at the end of May!
I must say that I enjoyed the race and was very impressed with the silky smooth organisation by Stratford's Rotary Club. I liked the improved race start with the lap around Stratford's town centre (rather than round the playing fields by the finish as it was in 97). It was a shame however, that there wasn't some form of 'starting pen' system, as some of the faster runners could get boxed in around the town. Was the chap on the tannoy system from local radio? He was just background noise for me as I was focused on my race, so I didn't notice him being condescending. I did have to jump over the barriers for a last minute toilet stop though - so a good job there were public conveniences handy!
Parking by the finish was convenient and cost £3. There were some porta-loos there, although there was a 5 minute'ish queue to use them. I didn't use the changing facilities, but there looked to be a big queue for those. There were lots of toilets on the course though, something that other races seem to neglect. The course itself was nice and although there is one obvious hill, there are also several other inclines. The big hill is just enough to give you at least one slow mile, jeopardising a PB attempt. The Greenway was nice and there was lots of supporters on there, especially the Macmillan crowd. And generally the support from the locals was very uplifting - even the poor souls trapped in their cars watching the runners going past appeared supportive (even if a little pee'd off with the delay). Plenty of bottled water on the course, but only one energy drinks stop that I saw. All the marshals were very friendly, professional and supportive (as they were in 97, when it was cups of water and orange squash).
It's all positive except for a couple of gripes. The cost was high for a half marathon, possibly because the half and full marathon were priced the same at £23. Logic would suggest that a half marathon should be cheaper than a full one, maybe not half the price, but definitely cheaper. The medal received was excellent though - totally relevant for the event's Shakespeare connection. But I was expecting a little more than a medal, banana and bottle of water at the finish. Admittedly I didn't want a bag full of junk, but a race t-shirt would have been most welcome along with the medal, water and banana (as was the case in the Birmingham Half Marathon costing £20 last year). I understand the charitable aims of the race, but even so, £23 is a lot of money for a half marathon.
I found parts of the course very dull, especially the bit between mile 7 and the Greenway. Even though you are running down country lanes, there is nothing of any interest to look at once you've taken in the green fields. I'm just so pleased that I wasn't going to have to do another lap this year!
Also, the finish was very restrictive from the bit where you come off the Greenway onto the road, which was coned off with an area two runners wide to run down. I found myself having to go around the cones to over take slower runners. Then the turn onto the single runner-width footpath a complete bottle neck with no overtaking. This was very, very frustrating as there were people walking in front of me! Once into the park by the river, it was possible to overtake and power on to the finish line. In my opinion, this was one of the worst finishes to a race that I have ever done as you were totally restricted by other people and could not run freely to your own ability.
On the whole, it was an enjoyable, well organised race with a superb medal. I am sure in the future, when I look back on this race, I'll forget the negatives and just remember a nice sunny day in Stratford. I am sure that I'll enter again in the future, especially when my 2010 London Marathon application is rejected, again! And I am sure that I'll moan about the price again in the future too... Date of review: May 5, 2009
In short: Superb Half Marathon that makes you dig deep for the finish line In full: My second year running the Ironbridge Half, and I still thoroughly enjoyed it. 5 mins off my previous time and a PB for the distance is always good! Scenery is lovely, the organisation fantastic, marshalls very friendly and supportive and there are four logically placed drink stations. It's largely traffic free with great crowd support when you go over the Ironbridge. The goody bag was a very useful shoulder bag (perfect for running to the swimming pool for example) which I will use again and again, a bottle of spring water and a Mars bar. Not a single negative and a bargain race for £12. Well done once again Telford Harriers! Date of review: March 23, 2009
In short: Another good year for the Action Heart 5 In full: Well organised and well attended 5 mile run, around Pensnett and the outskirts of Dudley. Starts and finishes at Russell's Hall Hospital. Plenty of parking, baggage area, water at end, good marshalls and nice t-shirt. Didn't think the toilet facilities were as good as before (no port-a-cabin loos) so used the ones in the hospital, as did many others. Dread to think how long the toilet queue would have been if the hospital was out of bounds for runners! Date of review: February 24, 2009
In short: Another great year for the Wyre Forest MT 8 In full: My second time around the forest and I still thoroughly enjoyed the race. Same route as last year, although it was much muddier this year - definitely one for the Inov8's!!! Tough race with the mud and hills in the second half, but it's lovely to run through the forest. Shame it wasn't as sunny this year - last year was stunning! Friendly marshals and a great medal (with a Mars bar too). Only slight criticisms were about the car parking - no where near as good as in 2008. And also the announcements at the start could not be heard. Date of review: February 16, 2009
In short: Great 10 Multi Terrain Race In full: I enjoyed my second Stagger, but it felt tougher this year due to the wintery conditions. Definitely one for the off-road shoes! I bettered last year's time, so was pleased, but those hills are tough! A nice coaster as a momento - looks good in my office. Well done Stourbridge RC - you only need to purchase a megaphone now for the start of the next race! Date of review: February 9, 2009
In short: Fantastic Six'ish MT Race In full: A really good friendly race, through plenty of mud with some challenging 'hills' (or slopes to be exact?) and a stream. Was good fun and I'd definitely look to do it again next year. Date of review: November 17, 2008