Cat Johnson

Cardiff, United Kingdom, United Kingdom
Member since Oct 2017

My Completed Races

2018
ABP Newport Wales Marathon
2018
British Airways Run Gatwick International Half Marathon
2018
St illtyds Trail Race
2018
Brooks Snowdonia Marathon Eryri
2018
Dixons Carphone Race to the Stones

My Latest Reviews

Completed in 2018

4.7

My Favourite 10k

This was my second year of completing Vitality 10k and it was just as enjoyable as last year, so is now my favourite 10k race.

Easy to register for the race, loads of email and social media updates too.

Love the course, running through the centre of London and starting and finishing at Buck Palace is always going to be amazing when you don't live there (even if Liz didn't invite me round for tea!).  Great crowd support and music all the way round, which makes it feel more than just a 10k race.

A little bit of a bottle neck trying to get to the pens from Green Park this year too but nothing major, not even a gripe as it's such a big event. Organisation is fab, pens clearly marked, lots of signage.

They trialled paper cups at the first water stop this year and as much as I'm up for cutting down on plastic bottles, most runners threw them on the floor in front of them, so I can only imagine by the time the last pen came through, the floor may have been covered in them.... plus as usual I didn't drink much as I tipped it down my front whilst trying to sip from them, (any tips on drinking from a cup whilst racing greatly appreciated!).  The bottles at the second water stop were smaller too (which is great, as they were enough for a few sips and to tip some down your back as it was a schorcher!).

Again a great finishers medal and good quality New Balance tshirt (last year's tshirt was adidas and I'm still wearing it now as they were such good quality).

They changed the finish this year, so we had to walk a bit further to get our medals, rather than them being in the goody bag itself (which was another good one... Face cream, Water, Lucozade, Crisps, a herbal tea and a protein bar).

Toilets were a bit packed as you expect but as long as you don't mind paying 50p, you can use the loos in Green Park tube station, although when I finished the toilets were empty so got straight in one.

Only downside was that as I had finished, I wanted to walk round to the mall to see our other runners finish and cheer them on the last 200 meters or so but I wasn't allowed, so waited in Green Park for them. 

The activities in Green Park post run are great too, so no need to rush off after the race.  Music, a physio, a treadmill challenge, so we all stayed and had a picnic in the park post run. We stayed that long they were taking the deckchairs off us to pack up!

Next year I'll be coming earlier to enter the Westminster Mile too! 

Great day out, value for money and definitely worth the travel from Wales

 

 

Posted on 31.05.18

Completed in 2018

4.5

Brutally Beautiful

St illtyds Trail Race

Not sure where to start on this one as it was my first ultra... but what an ultra to pick!

In the race briefing Nathan mentioned that this was one of the hardest ultras in the UK, so that cranked the nerves up a bit before I started!

On one of the hottest days of the year so far, we all ventured out onto the course, which starts at the yacht club, so a beautiful view before we even climbed.  First few miles are flat.... don't let that lull you into a false sense of security.  With elevation of 1295m (only 50m less than Ben Nevis), the views were incredible. 

Great idyllic route, through fields of bluebells and a fair bit of mud and cow pats,  marked out by the St. Illtyds signs and tape (some of which had been removed by locals and I did get lost twice... luckily not too far out though).  

Great company at points on the route as a lot of the racecheck crew I hadn't met before, apart from Twitter were there too, so great to put faces to twitter names.  Amazing support crew action from Kat & crew, who we could hear cheering and whooping for everyone round the course.

The volunteers were amazing, so helpful and cheerful at the fully stocked checkpoints, never has an orange segment tasted so good, as at the last checkpoint with around 12k left to go. The halfway point (up a hill, for a change), was a welcome sight, with the helpers refilling our bladders in our camo packs, handing out vaseiline and suncream (did I mention how hot it was?).

Nathan and Tori did an amazing job of organising and were stood at the finish, noting down your time and handing out the amazing medals (so big you could eat your dinner off it) and tshirts.  The bonus being a bar at the yacht club, so my first post race drink was a pint.

This is not just a physical challenge, its a mental one too.  I think I went through every emotion possible out on the course.  

Am I going back again........ more than likely, great value for such a beast of a race.

Posted on 09.05.18

Completed in 2018

4.9

Newport 262 did us proud!

ABP Newport Wales Marathon

As this was the inaugural Newport Marathon and being a proud welsh girl, it had to be done as my first ever marathon outing. 

Run4Wales always put on a good race (Cardiff Half being one of my favourites!) and they didn't disappoint on this first marathon either.

Big bag drop in the car park, which eveyone got through quickly, LOADS of toilets (I wasn't queuing behind more than 3 people for a loo, bravo on this one!).

The race did start 30 mins late, due to the park & ride but through no fault of Run4Wales, as the roadworks there are a nightmare.  Rookie error by me for not taking an old jacket to throw away, so was a bit cold.

The route is flat (apart from the bridge at mile 1 & 25 but it's only a slight gradient, nothing serious and then there is one more gradient round the course), so it's certainly a fast route if you're going for a PB!

Some of the roads are quiet as they are country roads, so not much support on the way (I was already aware of this as I had been helping out at the pre-marathon training session, so I had already run some of the course). If you don't mind not having the crowd support, then it's all good but the people who came out in Magor to cheer everyone on totally made up for it.  Plus lots of runners were chatting to each other, so the moreale around the course was good anyway.

Plenty of water stations, aid stations and lots of recycling bins & boxes on the route to throw your empty bottles and gel packs into (yet I still saw some people thowing their empty gel packs to the floor :-(.....)

Volunteers were rocking it round the course with loud hailers, big foam fingers & lots of cheers and at the finish with big hugs for us finishers.

Surreal points..... Having horses in a field run alongside us, Cows runing up to the fences to see what was going on and the Banging DJ in his pimped up red tractor of decks and speakers, smashing out dance tunes.

Only low point for me was the loop run up to the transporter bridge and back (around mile 22-24) longest few miles of my life! 

The finish line straight was amazing, so lovely to see so many people had come out to support and cheer.  You certainly feel amazing running up that last straight.  Chip timing was spot on, so my supporters knew exactly when I was coming into the finish.

Nice medal, good tshirt, congrats to Steve Brace for a super route & to all at Run4Wales for putting on a great event.  I am so coming back next year! 

 

 

Posted on 09.05.18

Completed in 2018

4.9

Worth the Price Tag

London Landmarks Half Marathon

I was lucky enough to get a place in the Inaugural LLHM (spaces sold out in 20 minutes) and boy, am I glad I did.

Considering this was the first race, you couldn't hardly fault it.  The lead up on social media has been outstanding, really making you want to be part of this race, including a live feed of the race on Facebook.

Excellent race packs (including funky bag for the bag drop, tshirt, race guide & your bib).  

Well organised, plenty of help on directing you to the race start line (although I think the pen colours kind of got a bit mixed up, as I seemed to be in a pen with a lot of different waves, which led to  abit of zig zagging round some athletes). Nevertheless, super course, loads of cheer stations, local support, plenty of water stations (and water in bottles.... you know my dislike of being handed a plastic white cup of water in a race). :-)

Toilets as at every race are always a mare, 20p can get you into the loos at Traflagar Square (which were empty when I got there), so worth the pennies to spend a penny! :-) 

All the landmarks and quirky little places (EG. Guy Fawkes house) were signposted, so you could look out for them.  Guildhall School of Music & Drama provided plenty of on course entertainment. 

Some of the turns were a little tight on the course but you can wipe that out as the rest of the race totally makes up for it. Nice flat race, apart from the downhill (always welcome a downhill in a race) leading to 5k and your first water station and a nice little gradient around mile 9-10, that leads up to the turn for the Embankment into your last 5k of the run.

Fabulous to hear Bow Bells ringing as you run past, suffragettes cheering you on, and it's not every day you get a Chelsea Pensioner or Pearly Queen handing you your medal at the finish line. (and an awesome medal, TOP MARKS!) We all love a bit of good bling. :-) 

LLHM have totally embraced everything that is Traditional London and thrown it all and more into one race.

Love, love, loved it.  I will be signing up for next year. Totally worth the money and trip from Wales

 

Posted on 26.03.18

Completed as a first timer in 2017

3.1

Wish I’d worn my trail shoes

as this was my last HM for October 5/5, I was looking forward to it, especially running along the River Thames. A lot of the race was on the towpath (perhaps I should have checked the route closer before the run) lots of leaves, tree stumps and muddy puddles. The first 5k is a loop of the first part of the course, which put me off slightly, then a long trek down the towpath along the river. Lots of dodging tree stumps, which had been painted orange for ease of seeing them on the route. Not a lot of crowd support and my biggest bug bear cups of water, not bottles... sorry but I can’t run and drink from a cup. The views were lovely, nice to have a nosey at some of the houseboats on the river but not my favourite race I have to be honest. Medal was nice, goody bag was good too. Pedestrians on some of the route with families & buggies so had to avoid some of them. I did like the fact there was a timer at the end of the race so it flashed up your finish time when you hit the mats. I’d wear trail shoes if I was running this again. Marshalls were placed well around the course, except for the section around 9 miles where the route goes back to road. The tree stumps on the pavements were HUGE! More like hurdles! Beware of those! Parking was easy enough on the day. My other half really enjoyed it though so each to their own but Definitely one to do for a challenge. 

Posted on 18.12.17

Completed in 2017

4.4

Get yourself booked in!

Stroud Half Marathon

I’m going to be totally honest here...... I decided this year for my charity challenge I was going to complete 5 half marathons in October, so one every Sunday for 5 weeks.... when I started my challenge I’d picked some big races, Cardiff Half, Royal Parks Half, Manchester Half so looking around for a half on 4th week Oct nearer to Home was proving challenging.... I saw Stroud and decided I would use this race to complete my 5 for the month.... because I’d picked such big attendance races, I hadn’t been looking forward to this from the time I booked it. It was kind of a ‘filler race’ as I needed a HM for that week. I did have an awards ceremony the evening before as well, which meant a late night before this race and promised myself I wasn’t drinking.... but I won Welsh Athletics Run Leader of the year.... so, 2 glasses of Moët, 2 large G&T’s & 2 glasses of red wine later I failed. I’d also only had 5 hours sleep before getting up for the race, so was dreading it even more. When I arrived, hungover & tired, Marshalls were still setting up the timing pads & barriers, so concerned me even more. 

My hangover and my head said ‘just run it and finish... not pressure or need for a PB today’. 

(I did see a racecheck #teamwhite visor in the starting pen too!) 

Anyway..... my fears and dread were totally alleviated! what a lovely race! I throughly enjoyed it. The route was fab, lots of winding lanes and little villages, quite bizzare running down the main roads with the traffic (the marshalls had coned off areas for us to run in on the main roads), lots of lovely little gradients and a not to steep hill but challenging enough around the 10k mark with a lot of spectator support at the top (outside the pub!)  Hats off to the marshalls on the one main roundabout, stopping the traffic for us to run round it too. Really surprised at the amount of crowd support because of the route, there were little pockets of supporters on the way round which were much appreciated. 

The constant gradient running towards the finish line for about 1.5 miles was a great last push for the finish too. 

As it wasn’t a huge race (even though it was sold out), the commentator at the finish line called everyone’s names out as you crossed the line.

Even in my hungover state, I still managed 1:46:54 (32 secs off my PB) with the course not being flat. Perhaps drinking is the way forward before a race? :-) 

Nice bit of bling (always important!) and tshirt. 

Not so great bits..... no tracker app, so I did a Facebook live at mile 10! Water in cups at the water stations & mile 9-10 was a bit bleak around the industrial estate but apart from that, it’s a good race. Good value for money & I’ll definitely be running it again. Well done Stroud Half for exceeding expectations on what I thought would be my worst one of 5 HM’s. 

Posted on 28.10.17

Completed as a first timer in 2017

4.5

Great PB course!

Manchester Half Marathon

First time for me at MCR Half today so was a little apprehensive not knowing my surroundings but I not needed have worried! Stayed in the Hilton hotel overnight on Saturday which was hosting the runners village in the car park, so didn't have far to go on leaving the hotel this morning to the start line. Well organised, good route, not truly flat (only a few slight gradients) but living in Wales I'm used to worse, so it was flat enough for me... Marshall supervision and support was brilliant, as were the crowds and musicians who lined the streets. The choir who were at around mile 3 and then on the return about 22ish got me all emotional! Brilliant!  Never had so many people call my name in a place I didn't know! Loads of water stations (big bonus today as it was sunny and very warm!). Not a very picturesque run but I never see that as an issue. MASSIVE shoutout to the 1:45 pacer in the racecheck Visor and Buff. That guy was Brilliant! I ran just behind him for the first 8-9k and he obviously knew the course, as he warned us of what was coming up (gradients, turns etc) he was continuously supporting & cheering on us runners around him & keeping us up to date on distance done. He got me to my PB!!!! Plenty of water at the finish, nice medal & tshirt and a BEER! Although non alcoholic I think everyone enjoyed it (I'll never turn a beer down!). Instant text at finishing with my time too (that's always a plus for me).... anything to watch out for? There's a road around mile 8/9 which is full of speed bumps...... enjoy the rollercoaster

Posted on 15.10.17

Completed as a first timer in 2017

3.2

Not the best......

Race for Life - Cardiff

I took part in the 5k & 10k run this year with my Run group.  Where do I start?.....

My 5k bib never arrived (well it did, 2 weeks after I completed the race!!!!) :-)  

10k was short by nearly 2k as someone sabotaged the course the previous night..... not the fault of the organisers though... the run was spent mostly zig zagging the wet grass around coopers field / Bute park, not very well thought out or signposted, especially when there are other races such as St. David's Day Run & Mo Run in the same park with better routes..... way too many pedestrians, bikes & buggies around the course. Maybe a change of route next year? I understand there are limited resources for putting on huge amounts of these runs across the U.K. But a little bit of thought into making the course better, may bring a bigger turnout.

The 5k run was much better than the 10k for the route. 

The Run group enjoyed, we always have fun wherever we go to run and for some of them it was their first race. It's all for a good cause and some of our runners children turned up to watch so we we're allowed to let them have a little run over the finish line without anyone telling us not to do it, plus they were given a medal so it made their day. 

 

Posted on 12.10.17

Completed as a first timer in 2017

4

Dodge the cow pats!

Royal Welsh Trail Running Festival

My first time for a trail run as I was asked to blog about it and I did the HM! I love a hill and this didn't disappoint! The start was in the royal Welsh showground, so plenty of people around & exhibitors (The hog roast rolls were a winner after the finish!) The HM was 2 laps of the 10k course, so you knew what was coming second round..... and all I could remember was the thick, muddy hill at 6k!!!! Good bits ... challenging, muddy in parts, lovely views, nice wooden bit of bling & good t-shirts. Registration on the day easy.  Not so good bits.... no chip timing, same pens for 10k and HM, no staggered start and the first part of the course was quite narrow trying to get all the runners through. A Marshall sent us the wrong way, so ended up not doing a full HM. On a positive note, this has all been rectified for 2018! (BIG thumbs up to Run4Wales). There WILL be chip timing, staggered start and different pens for 10k & HM runners. Even though I broke my shoe and wanted to give up after the first 10k, I'll definitely run this again! 

Posted on 10.10.17

My fave HM

Cardiff University/Cardiff Half Marathon

if you haven't done CHM yet, what are you waiting for? This has to be my all time fave HM (and not because I'm Welsh!). It's well organised, a brilliant route, crowd support is always amazing (especially from the residents of the old people's home at Roath park who always sit outside and cheer everyone on!). Two little gradients to dig into, especially the one at mile 12, it's not a big hill but sometimes feels like it at that point in the race. Plenty of water stations and volunteers. Running over the barrage & into Cardiff Bay has to be my favourite part. I kind of measure every HM against this one to be honest. You get your finish time text straight after the race and race photos within 24 hours. Loads of local professional photographers come along too and share their photos of the day. Love, love, love it! 

Posted on 08.10.17

comer like its on rails

first time at Royal Parks for me and was really looking forward to it. I was supposed to be in the green pen (I missed my wave due to the toilet queues and ended up in blue wave which was HUGE!), so ended up playing dodge the runner / walker for at least 4 miles. Really lovely run, good course, lots of going back on yourself and corners, so be prepared and check the route in advance. LOADS of water stations though, more than I've seen at any other race so plus points for that. Loads of volunteers to guide you round the course, esp Zig zagging round Hyde park. You get to run through Admiralty arch twice, past the palace twice (I did wave to Liz but she didn't wave back). The charity support support point just before 10k was amazing! All the charities lined up cheering everyone on. Plenty of pacers on the course too. A sustainable race too. The tshirt was made of recyclable material and the medal made from a tree from one of the parks on the course, which is lovely. I'm still waiting for my official finish time, 7 hours after I finished though. Great atmosphere, lovely views and landmarks to run past, hundreds of supporters, just add more toilets next one please! Update.... I may not have had my chip time asap after the race but the email I received the day after was brilliant. Great set of stats about the race / participants, age, gender etc 

Posted on 08.10.17