I completed the half marathon for the first time in 2018 and enjoyed it so much I have signed up for the full marathon for 2019. Don’t get me wrong, it was a tough race but also a very rewarding one. Llanberis was delightful and well worth making a weekend out of it!
Posted on 21.07.18
This is a small race hosted by Staines Strollers and Runnymede Runners.
Ok, let’s be honest. It’s an open road 10k around the suburbs of Staines so it’s not the most beautiful. However if you’re looking for a good, well organised, flat and fast race you can’t go too far wrong for the price. There are a couple of pinch points although I personally wasn’t affected by them.
There was good local support for an event of this size. One family were running their own unofficial water stop which was a lovely touch (and really helped me) and plenty of friend and family support at the finish line.
1 water stop at 5.5k is fine. Water stop at finish line had tiny cups but they were ready to refill multiple times so not too bad.
Medal and t-shirt as momentos which for the price is good. Overall a fun race for a Sunday morning in May.
Posted on 14.05.18
This was my first Woodhouse May Day Challenge despite the event being in its 10th year. It’s a small, chip timed race with about 600 entrants split between walkers and runners across the hills and lanes of Charnwood in Leicestershire. It’s slightly more than a half marathon and comes in at 13.5 miles with a variety of terrain but mostly trail. There are two notable tarmac sections, one long uphill inside the first 2 miles and then the long tarmac path that crosses the beautiful Bradgate Park.
Getting to the event has to be done by road and there is ample on street parking or you can park in a field provided by the organisers, a short walk from the start. The event starts at the Woodhouse Eaves village hall which is also where you collect your race numbers on the day. Tea and coffee is available for the runners before the off and there is a friendly atmosphere all round.
The walkers set off at 8:30am and the runners at 9:30 which means the fastest walkers and runners are coming in at similar times. The organisation was excellent and extra water stops had been added to account for it being the hottest May Day on record. As well as water and juice, there was flapjack, jelly babies and most usefully, buckets of water with sponges in you could use to cool yourself down. The martials were all excellent and allowed us to efficiently cross the few roads that we had to and worked really hard out in the sun all day.
The closing stretch of the 13.5 mile course has you climbing up hill back into Woodhouse Eaves and circling around the edge of a field behind the village hall. This is where most of the spectators are and as you cross the finish line they call in your name over the loud speaker: ‘representing Shepperton Running Group, number 17 Jonathan Ashdown’ etc which is a nice touch.
There is no medal for this event but there is always a momento, in previous years there have been tshirts, this year it is a soft draw cord trainer bag. Personally I prefer this. Bling is nice but I like getting other things I can actually use. Anyway, the bag is only the start!
Staggering weary legged back up to the village hall about 100m from the finish, all competitors receive free food. This year it was a delicious chilli backed potato! There is also an enormous spread of free sandwiches and hundreds of homemade cakes, biscuits and fruit. Tea, coffee, water and squash is all complimentary... but that’s not all!
Comllimentary massages for all competitors is a really nice touch and something a lot of people take up. I had one and it was brilliant. They ask if there is a certain area you want them to work on (I had hamstrings) and then they work on each person for 15 minutes or so. There are collection buckets for local charities in the tea room (separate from the massages) but you are under no pressure to donate. There is also a pay as you go BBQ for non competitors which is very reasonably priced.
For £18 you struggle to find a better value for money race. It was friendly, fun and a great way to spend the May bank holiday! My thanks go out to the organisers! Highly recommended!!!
Posted on 09.05.18
Overall I absolutely loved the Brighton Marathon. It was tough and there are a few small hills people don’t tell you about.
I did a late registration and I did think it was a bit expensive. I don’t think it’s too bad if you sign up early.
wverything about the day was great however they don’t post race numbers so you have to be in Brighton either the Friday or Saturday before the race which is a bit of a swiz. Sure it’s just a way to make people spend more money. The race numbers don’t have your name on which is a shame as it means you don’t get as many calls from the general public. The support from the public was incredible though. Thousands upon thousands of people lining the streets in support.
The race t shirt sadly felt a bit cheap compared to similar Run t shirts but I don’t really care as I have so many.
As I said, over all I loved it, even with it’s inconveniences. So much so I’ve signed up for 2019 too!!
Posted on 08.05.18
This is a great half marathon and seemingly very fast.
Literally only 2 negatives as far as I can see;
1. The bag drop is a long way from the start and is at a very narrow part of the sea front which results in a big bottle neck and a lot of people racing to try and get forward into the correct starting gate close to the off.
2. No t-shirt/ poor goodie bag which in itself isn’t a problem as I’ve got bloody hundreds but this is quite an expensive event and there wasn’t much at the end other than the medal. I understand it costs a lot to close roads etc but I can’t image it’s more than the Oxford Half and they have always had great end of race perks.
I must say the local support was excellent though! Really, really good!
Posted on 28.02.18
This was my first Tadley XMas XC 5.3 miler and I absolutely loved it!
Getting there: Very easy to find and excellent parking facilities. Only 1 toilet so get there early.
Registration: I registered on the day which was easy enough to do. The only negative was the cost. It was £14 in advance which would have been a very fair price however it was £20 on the day (dispite the website saying £5 more it turned into £6) which did seem a bit expensive for an event not run on roads, no feed stations (cup of water at finish) and no medals (very fetching mug though).
The start: Getting to the start from the registration hall involves a 10/15 minute walk/light jog along roads and paths, some of which were quite muddy in their own right. I actually quite liked this as it was a good opportunity for a warm up jog which was definitly needed as it was already sleating and the wind was occasionally gusting. The event director gave a qucik talk over a megaphone which was sadly lost in the wind for anyone standing in the back two thirds of the pack. The snippets i did hear were basically 'it's muddy, be careful'. He wasn't wrong.
The race: The course was a lot of fun and starts with a run across a field and then a quick descent through some woods. The terrain was varied: mud, wet mud, sticky mud, slippy mud, grassy mud, deep mud, shoe sucking mud, really deep mud... you get the idea. All this mud was interspersed with stream crossings, all about 6ft wide and 1ft deep so fording them is unavoidable (not that you'd want to, all part of the fun).
The first 4.5 miles are actually fairly easy going, no big hills but thats what lulls you into a false sense of security as remember the steep decent you made at the start? Yep, thats right, get back up it. Only now its had a few hundred runners on it so its even more... muddy. Its actually not so bad, only about 100m of ascent and is very close to the end, just got to dig in!
Finish: Sprint/grimace/limp your way back across the field and across the finish line. Here you get your fetching mug and a cup of water. The field is open to the wind so you probably wont want to hang around for too long or you'll get cold. Instead head back along the footpaths and roads (at this point it had started snowing and was lovely) and get back to the registration hall where you are greeted with a VERY welcome cup of hot homemade soup. It was delicious. Pat yourself on the back, chat to other runners, go back for seconds, have a coffee, clap for the winners, thank the marshalls and then home. Showers are available and people did make use of them (hot water!). Sadly i forgot my towel. Spare clothes goes without saying.
Overall: So if i had paid in advance for £14 i would have felt as though every penny had been well spent. At £20 i thought it was a bit expensive for a 5 mile XC race. However, the actual race, the course, the marshalls, organisation etc was all excellent. It was such a fun route and was full of nice people. I will definitely be back next year (i'll just buy in advance!)
Posted on 10.12.17
What a fantastically organised event with a nice fast route and excellent facilities. There really isn’t anything negative I can say. It’s a fun friendly event with a lot of clubs represented. Runners of all abilities present And it was undoubtedly great value for money! T-shirt & medal for £14, doesn’t get much better. Sign me up for next year!
Posted on 03.12.17
I have previously completed the Oxford Half in 2014 & 2015 and although I had initial reservations when I heard Virgin Sport had taken over the running of the event from Vitality for 2017 my fear were unnecessary. If anything I would say this is the best organised event so far.
In terms of organisation everything went well, the start was seamless. Each runner put into a starting pen due to their expected finish time. The road immediately opened up allowing plenty of space The the inevitable weaving that takes place early on. The water stations were excellent and the finish brilliant too. The course was very flat and very fast which when coupled with the simply astounding local support made for a fantastic race atmosphere.
Oxford is a beautiful place to run around and I will definitely be back next year!
Posted on 08.10.17
Registration: I signed up about 2 weeks before the event and had no problems, race pack arrived promptly about 5 or 6 day before the event.
Arrival: Blenheim is always busy at the weekends so is worth allowing plenty of extra time to cue to get in and then park up.
Positives: Blenheim is a beautiful place to run around, the course is challenging with a few decent hills to push up yet still offering an excellent even running surface. The support from other Blenheim visitors was nice and I thought the atmosphere was excellent. The finish of the race is spectacular as you cross the bridge and sprint towards the palace with a lot of support cheering you on. A lovely way to spend a morning.
Water station at 5k was good and I thought the course marshalls all around were excellent and very encouraging. There was also a free tech t shirt which you don't always get these days. I didn't bother getting one as I never use them but plenty of people did.
Negatives: The start pen was an undeniable problem. It was far too small for that amount of runners. There was a huge cue for portaloos (although no cue for the inside loos which weren't sign posted sadly) and by the time I got back the pen was completely full. I could see pacers for 70 minutes a long way ahead which was concerning bearing in mind I wanted to do it about 20 minutes faster than that. This meant that for the first 2 miles there was A LOT of bobbing and weaving and not just by me, I'd say 50% of the people I started with all were pushing to get further up the field. This was made worse by the fact that the path was about as wide as a single track road. It was tricky but after about a mile and a half I seemed to be with a group doing similar pace and we started to overtake people less frequently. Although not a huge problem it was annoying and could have simply been solved with more pre race organisation and proper time pens rather than everyone mixing in together.
The medal was undoubtedly a bit cheap too, shame it makes no mention of the event it was from but worse things have happened.
Also worth noting that on Strava it only came out at 9.8 or 9.9km.
Overall I definitely don't feel as cheated as the other 2 reviewers here. It was a lovely race with beautiful surroundings. It's a bit congested and could benefit from better organisation but overall a very pleasant run. Not a good one for the bling hunters and if I were to run again (which I may well do) I would just ensure I got there much earlier and got to a more sensible place in the start pen (or maybe just in it at all). No problems parking or getting out afterwards. All very smooth for me.
Posted on 01.10.17
The Half - first time runner of the Half which follows the last 21km of the 40km & 60km course. This means that the water/aid stations are incredible. Full spreads including crisps, cheese, sausage rolls, water melon and much more. Not that I ate any of it on the Half but it was there should you have been so inclined.
In terms of the route it was quite simply spectacular. As you summit Holmberry hill and later Leith Hill the views are simply astounding. So much so I even stopped to take a photo which I can't say I've ever done on a road race before! The terrain is mostly good footpaths, a fair amount of which are through beautiful woodland, but there are some steep ascents and decents that need attention and I was very happy I was in trail shoes rather than road runners.
The only slight negative would be that the start of the Half course is very congested as the first few hundred meters are on a narrow footpath with fences either side. This means it's single file and to make it worse there is a style. However it very quickly opens up and is a tiny price to pay for such a spectacular route. Overall it can't have slowed me down by more than a couple of minutes anyway which on a course like this is nothing.
Overall it was probably the friendliest race I've ever done, ended up having good chats with 5 or 6 people along the way. Probably because it's not a race where you'll get PB's so it take the pressure off and everyone just enjoys it. Well signed, great atmosphere and a stunningly beautiful course... couldn't ask for anything more!
Posted on 26.09.17