In short: MAGIC MARATHON In full: Ran the Chester again this year after bagging my PB here in 2012 - and it was as good as ever. Inspiring start at the Racecourse, brilliant course, stirring support out in the villages, over the Welsh border, amazing finish. And spot-on organisation as well as well-stocked drinks stations and very supportive marshals.... What's not to like?? Even the sun came out. If you're looking to run your first marathon or targeting a PB look no further - Chester's just the boy.
In short: Superlative! In full: I ran the Sunday race with my amazing daughter Hollie - the 1st lady home!! - and loved it to bits. The sun shone, the Derbyshire countryside sparkled and it was headlong from start to finish. This is the ultimate feel-good race. We started in waves to avoid congestion - it worked a treat - and compared to the road the trail was so much easier on the legs. We had to watch out for an army of cyclists and dog-walkers - and even tree-cutters! - as the morning wore on. But I've got to say that after years of racing all over the UK and dozens of races this is right up there with the very best. Bring on next year, we can't wait! Date of review: October 6, 2014
In short: Excellent. In full: A good up and down course with plenty of climbs and real character. The marshals were superb, the scenery pretty and the organisation totally flawless. Hot and sunny on the day but we had regular water stations with even smiling tots handing out bottles and cheering runners on! All in all a complete triumph and a genuine feelgood race.
In short: Beautiful but brutal! In full: A real marathon runner's marathon - loved it. Ran Snowdonia on the day from hell back in '08 - and this was tougher. Hill after hill and glorious sweeping views of Bodmin Moor on top before dipping down and climbing again in the last few miles. The ascent from 24-25 seemed to go on for ever and scrape the big blue Cornish skies!! Thank God for the plunge into Pensilva to bring us all home. Gorgeous day, fantastic marshals, villagers and cyclists. The hot pasty at the end was the best I've ever tasted and a big thank you to the ladies who dished out tea and warm words at the Millennium Hall. A brilliant hoodie to boot and all this for half the price of the boring big city marathons. A pleasure and privilege to run in the Cornish, it's up there with the best in the country for me - a genuine gem, a treasured secret! Date of review: November 23, 2012
In short: Starting and finishing at Chester Racecourse, a superb day out at the races! In full: We runners deal in numbers, stats and figures - so 10 out of 10 to the Chester Marathon. Super-slick organisation, very friendly people to deal with, excellent marshals, good value for money - and a top course to boot. Winding through historic Chester before heading out into the countryside and over the Welsh border was spot on for me. Mix in a cracking flat route, a gorgeous autumnal day, a super goodie bag and top-notch technical long-sleeved top and this must be one of the best 26.2-milers anywhere. Fantastic start and finish at the racecourse, one of my best running days out ever - and I smashed my PB by 4mins to hit 3:34!
In short: The OlymPicnic - harder than anything you could do in the actual Olympics! In full: Savage and sadistic, brutal and heartbreaking!! I feel so proud of myself for completing such an epic run - and fast walk! I've done the Langdales, the Beachy Heads, Snowdonias, White Peaks - but this was tougher than all them lumped together. The hills were Himalayan. But it was the giant steps that got me every time. I hated them - and don't want to see another bloody step until 2013... The last set in the last mile almost did for me - they were just evilly cruel. But so many positives to draw from this race and this whole experience. Dr Rob - a living long distance legend. My fellow runners - magnificent. I've never known such camaraderie as I experienced yesterday. Runners high-fiving each other out on the trail, shaking hands, urging everyone else on - truly heartwarming stuff. The marshalls - fantastic....incredibly supportive, always cheerful, relentlessly upbeat. I thanked each and every one of them on the course and I'll thank them again now for going above and beyond during many many hours out on the trail. You were all truly brilliant. This was a heart-stirring inspirational test of mental and physical strength for all true runners. The OlymPicnic battered me to the limit and beyond - thank God I made it. I'll treasure my beautiful medal and iconic T-shirt until the day I die!
In short: The racing day from hell but fantastic crowd support. In full: Every runner who started this race, never mind finished it, deserved a medal. The weather was as bad as Snowdonia in 2008 - and that was horrific! We had to fight huge winds, torrential rain and freezing temperatures. It was so wet that much of the course was under water - with some runners insisting on trying to tiptoe around puddles. Fair play to the organisers for managing to put it on when other regional races, such as the Shakespeare Marathon, were cancelled. But, on the negative side, we queued for ages to crawl into a pre-booked spot at Furzton Lake car park only to be told it was shut. We had to speed off to emergency parking across town and walk about a mile to the start - getting there soaked and frozen and just in time to run. Highlight of the race for me was the incredible number of locals who came out to support us and cheer us on - they were brilliant. Well done to the marshals as well who did a good job in the apocalyptic conditions, handing out drinks and marking the route. I was looking forward to the finish in the MK Dons Stadium but it was a complete damp squib. Storming into the ground wet through I couldn't see where the finishing line was for the life of me. No arch, no banners, no gantry - all very low key, a massive anti-climax. We were handed a pretty ropey goody bag, funnelled back out of the arena and left to wander around. It then took me 30 minutes to find my wife, who had my clothes, food and energy drink. By then I was seriously cold and starting to suffer hypothermia. A miserable end to a tough old day. This race certainly has potential and 10 out of 10 to the people of Milton Keynes for taking us to their hearts. But the organisers will have to learn serious lessons from this year's event - which was shambolic at times - if they are to make this a successful annual 26.2ml spectacular. Date of review: May 1, 2012
In short: Excellent race, top day out In full: Flat, fast and friendly. All half marathoners should race the White Horse! It's got to be just about the best half in the whole country - long may it continue! Date of review: April 2, 2012
In short: Real tough test, battling up pretty big hills into gale force winds! In full: I'll sleep well tonight! A good challenging course with tasty hills made much harder by huge winds. Fighting up the hill at 8-9 into the teeth of a gale certainly made you breathe a wee bit harder. Just managing to stay on your feet was a major victory at times in such brutal conditions! This is a brilliantly organised race backed up by special marshals along the entire course - a big well done to you all. You did us all proud on a tough day. Date of review: January 22, 2012