Indeed congrats on all the PBs everyone and sorry to hear the stories that didn't go so well, but there's still loads of time.
Yes Jacquie, I managed a PB at Chester this weekend (11mins, but at the slower end more time seems to get knocked off each run than for the faster people). I'm not sure what I'm more chuffed about - that I finally cracked the 4hr barrier (3:57:40) or that I ran a relatively consistent race (for me) with 'only' a 3min positive split and 10km splits of 55/56/56/58 witht the final 2km at the same pace I started at. And obviously also pleased as it improves my Comrades pen seeding for next year . I didn't manage to spot anyone at Chester, must have been 'in the zone' for most of the day.
Fido2Dogs - you'll have to let me know good Comrades long training runs in the area? I've found some lovely places to run, but they are flat along the river or canal. And the hills are really only suitable for mid-week hill rep sessions rather than incorporating on long runs.
Ally - I was voluntering at EHM and saw you finish, but you didn't look very happy so I thought you must have had a bad run. Rather you must have just been knackered after achieving a PB.
SD - good to hear the positive review of Bournmouth, I was debating between that and Chester this year but decided to go with the established (and slightly cheaper) event.
Not being as fast as most of you to run GFA, my other news is that I secured my first ever London place in the ballot for 2014 (although this year unfortunately it doesn't fit in nicely a fortnight after or before other UK marathons/50k that I'm interested in doing as part of Comrades training).
Ah, I've now moved to Oxford so going to miss training in Richmond Park May have to get the bus over for a few long runs.
Lots to catch up on here - glad to see so many names from last year and lots of new ones.
I've booked into Belaire Suites as it was a good price (cheaper but same location as Blue Waters I stayed in last year), and saw a few others of you will be there too. I'll leave flights until 2014, still need to finally decide on the final details of my trip/holiday afterwards.
My tuppance worth for runs/'races' in the build up - I used marathons/50k for training runs as they are a lot more enjoyable than running on your own all the time, and water is organised for you too. I was following the book by Don Oliver (http://www.kalahari.com/Books/Make-Sure-of-Your-Comrades-Medal_p_40081853;jsessionid=E597A499C1F3795A68F9F3611BEBEB5E) which recommended 2 marathons and 3 ultras I think, or 3 marathons and 2 ultras (I did x2 marathons, x2 50k and a 27ish miler/3 forts marathon). I didn't 'race' any of these (although my 'racing' is not as fast as most of you), except for Paris marathon I did attempt to break 4hrs. As usual the wheels fell off around 20miles, but as it wasn't my 'A' race and I hadn't been specifially training to break 4hrs, I didn't push hard at this point and jogged it in for a PB (of still over 4hrs).
I have Chester in a couple of weeks, which I'm hoping to use as my qualifier. I see quite a few others on here will be there too - I'll try and wear some comrades gear around, so maybe get to say hi to a few of you.
Other than that I'm going to take a bit of time out until Jan 2014, plan to just tick over maybe playing with some speed work/maffetone training. A big aim will be to try and start some quad strengthening exercises and get into a regular habit of doing them. I'll also start to plan the big events to do as training in 2014 - any suggestions welcome...currently deliberating over longer but flatter events like the new forest 50k and pony express compared to shorter hillier events on the same days like charnwood marathon and three forts.
Minni - as Becca said, I found it wasn't so much the gradient of the hills, but how long they went on for and consequently the percentage of the whole run that was some sort of up hill incline. But as a novice last year, I have no useful insight into hills on the down run (I'm going to treat the down run in 2014 as a novice again).
And in terms of times, from a slower runner point of view - I have a marathon PB of 4:08 and managed to finish in just under 11hrs (I think my half way split made my time overall similar to faster runners that I read on here post-race = double + 30mins ish) . With my marathon time I knew I was never going to be able to make sub9hrs for a bill rowan medal so there was no point in killing myself, I would much rather 'enjoy' the experience as much as possible (the bronze medal time bracket is quite big). But also I thought I had an outside chance of sub11hrs rather than a 12hr finish (considering sub5hr marathon is the qualifying criteria), so I trained for and set off at 10:45ish pace for my dream goal of sneaking a bronze medal and then as for everyone also just aiming for a finish overall. Other, faster runners may have different thoughts/strategies for medal boundaries further up the field...