If you get a nice day with no wind this course will be perfect for a PB. There was a half marathon as well as a 5k and 10k taking place; there was also a triathlon finishing as the running races began.
The half marathon started first and after picking up my race number and a quick warm up with the enthusiastic Run Through staff, it was off to the start line. The half marathon is four laps of the lake. Its flat and fast, with one water station positioned about a half mile after the start, so you pass it four times. It was basic with bottled water, but was sufficient enough!
The support was limited to people with runners, so the vast majority you are running with no support, but again this was expected when I signed up.
After around an hour the 5k and 10k races set off, so that meant there were many more people on the course. I actually found this to be a benefit. The course never became too crowded, and the extra people added extra support, as well as the opportunity to try to catch other runners!
As always with the Run Through events you get a good medal and excellent flapjacks at the finish. There are photos uploaded to the Run Through website that evening, which can be downloaded for free.
The only thing I wish had been included on the race instructions was when driving youo had to take the entrance to Eton College. The sat nav postcode takes you past this, and I saw a couple of other cars having to turn around; which made me feel less stupid at driving straight past!!
Its not the most fancy of events, but it was well organised and friendly and I would recommend it. And again, if the weather is good, its definitely a PB course!
Posted on 17.07.18
Having done a number of marathons, running an ultra was always something I had wanted to do. A friend persuaded me to sign up for this event having heard good things about it and we agreed to run the 100km non-stop together. There are numerous options; to camp overnight at halfway, or to run either the first or second day individually.
We stayed at a Travelodge a few miles from the start, and we drove down arriving at around 7am before our start at 7:45. There is a wave start to stop too much congestion- beginning at 7:30 and running every 15 minutes until everybody has set off.
There are numerous parking and shuttle bus options, but as we had my wife acting an amazing cheerleader/driver/crew we parked up in the drop off area so she could cheer us on our way.
The event village was full of nervous excitement and there was a hype guy/DJ getting everybody warmed up! There was water and energy gels/electrolytes etc provided by High 5 at the start and throughout the pitstops on course. There was also a merchandise tent and a van selling what looked like very tasty bacon rolls- I decided it probably wasn't the best idea to eat one just before setting out!
After a quick briefing by the race director we set off. The weather was beautiful, sunny and hot pretty much the whole way round- probably slightly too hot for running such a distance.
There were 9 pitstops on the route, normally around every 10km depending on road access. All of the pitstops were manned by enthusiastic staff and volunteers. Medics were on hand and were brilliant in checking the participants were fit and well to continue. The pitstops had a mixture of food and drinks- lots of squash and flat coke. Plenty of electrolytes and gels. Crisps, sandwiches, soups, chocolate! Having never run an ultra before it felt more like a picnic!
On the route were a few locations with photographers taking pictures which automatically uploaded to facebook if you had signed up before. This was a nice touch as it kept people at home updated.
The support on the route was much better than I thought it would be. The pitstops were brilliant as expected, but the locals in some of the villages we run through came out in numbers to clap people by. I never thought I would enjoy an ice cube as much as one I was given by a group of kids. As well as the pitstops and villages, every now and again you would come across a walker on the Ridgeway. They were all so supportive as well.
The route itself was brilliantly signposted. There was no chance at all of getting lost which was one of my fears pre-race. The halfway point had a car park so we got to see my wife and change tops/socks etc. Reapply the suncream and top up drinks. We also had a sneaky ice cream. There was the option of a hot meal at halfway, but at that point I dont think i could have stomached a proper meal, so we grabbed some nuts etc and was on our way again!
The route provided some beautiful views across a very pretty part of the country. Walking the many hills allowed us to see them for hours and hours!!
The camaraderie between the runners was something I found completely different to road races I had done. Everybody was checking others were ok and over the course of the race you do see the same people several times. Both me and my friend had our highs and lows, and I would definitely recommend running with a friend to help you through those moments.
The Race to the Stones should actually be called The Race to the Stones and then back a little bit for a mile or so- as you do have to come back on yourself before the finish. This was warned to us before the race and again at the pitstops before the finish, so there was no surprise.
The food at the end was welcome, with pizza and hotdogs being available as well as a bar if you wanted a pint! The medal was nice, but the satisfaction and pride at finishing was what I loved.
I would thoroughly recommend this event, especially as a first timer, as everything is organised prefectly for you. All you need to do is turn up and run/jog/walk!
Posted on 16.07.18
This was the first time I had run this event and I had the pleasure of pacing my brother round his first race so I took it a bit easier than usual. This allowed me to take in all the sights and sounds of this lovely race.
There was plenty of cheap, local parking which was easy to access before a short walk to the race village on the seafront. There were plenty of portaloos which is always a good sign! We didn't use the baggage drop but there was one available before lining up to start.
Although there were no official pens there were large signs showing estimated finish times and I didn't find it too congested when we started in the 60 minute area. The field strung out pretty quickly after the start.
There could have done with being some more speakers further down the start area, as unless you were at the sharp end nothing could properly be heard.
The course itself was an out and back taking in some seafront and a couple of residential streets and a park/field area. It was all on closed roads and the local support was fantastic, as well as the marshals who were great.
There were two water stations on course with water in sports bottles.
The course was flat and fast and I will be coming back next year to try for a quicker time.
The medal was great and the offer of free photographs sounded good, but when they were released there were two of me, but none of my brother who was slightly disappointed!
Overall a great event that I would highly recommend.
Posted on 09.06.18
I transferred my place into this half marathon after a friend pulled out. They offer transfer at a small fee, which is always a nice touch. The pre-race info was good and on raceday the car park marshals organised the car parking very well.
This was my first trail race and it definitely won't be my last. The full marathon started at 10am, and was slightly more than a marathon at around 27 miles.
I ran the half marathon and that was started at 10:30 by the town crier! My friend had warned me about the hills and he wasn't lying. Over the 13.1 miles there was around 1500ft of elevation gain, but it was worth it for the views.
There were a good number of aid stations offering water, jelly babies and biscuits. They also kindly filled my water bottle up.
The support was sparse on the course as expected, althought the cows and sheep seemed pleased to see us! At the aid stations and at other points on the course the marshals provided excellent support.
There were a great selections of cakes and treats at the finish and a nice medal.
The official photos had me in about 60 photos, at a reasonable price. This may be the first time I ever purchase a set of race pics!
The difficulty of the course meant it took me around 15 minutes or so longer than a flat road half; but pacing has to go out of the window on some of the hills.
Overall I loved the event. The weather was perfect and the course was stunning. I'll definitely return next year, the only decision is to do the full or half?
Posted on 14.05.18
I signed up for this race last minute on the website and had to pick up my number on the day. This was a simple process and well organised. There were also on the day entries.
There had been useful parking info on the website pre-race including showing which car parks would have restricted exit times, so I managed to get a decent spot about 15 mins walk from the race village for £1 all-day parking.
I didn’t need to bag drop but there seemed to be quite big queues for that and the toilets towards the start time. It looked as though a few more toilets would have been a good idea.
Pre-race it was pretty well organised with start pens being taken down one by one towards the start line. There was some music on stage and a warm up before. Sally Gunnell, Colin Jackson and Ewan Thomas were the guest starters of the events.
The race itself was quite nice, a fairly standard road race. The sections which went through town were quite well supported, and the smaller villages saw the locals come out and offer support which was a nice touch. There were loads of marshals on course offering further support which was nice to see.
The event was on closed roads and ran past Gatwick runway, so was a nice chance to see planes taking off at fairly close quarters. The course did narrow slightly on some of the more country roads and where only one side of the road was closed, so that could create a problem if there are too many runners in future years, but it stayed pretty clear for me.
The first few mile markers seemed to be quite a way off on my watch, (one of them early and one late) but by mile 4 had sorted themselves out. It was fairly easy to run a good racing line- I came in at 13.12 miles.
There were three water stations providing water in bottles. I carried mine with me but there were bins nearby for those who didn’t keep theirs with them. Was frustrating to see a few people throwing bottles at the side of the road after the clear up area. As this run goes through quiet country roads I didn’t see the need to litter like this. (I finished in 1:32 so hardly in the “elite” portion of the race).
There was one fairly steep hill near mile 9, but it was over quickly then straight down the other side!! Heading back into Crawley for the finish, the crowds had got bigger for one final slight uphill under the railway.
The medal was excellent and a decent t-shirt and buff was a nice touch. In the village afterwards BA were giving away free flights in an instant competition- which isn’t a bad prize. There was also a Yazoo stand giving away milkshakes!
As well as the half marathon there was also a 5k and a kids race taking place- so lots of fun for everybody.
Overall I enjoyed this half marathon and think I’ll be back next year for another go.
Posted on 14.05.18
Having not gained entry to London this year I was recommended the Paris marathon by a couple of friends, and it did not disappoint.
The online entry was easy enough, although I'm not a massive fan of the prices increasing the closer to race day that a lot of races are doing now.
The communications sent out in the months before the race were always clear and in good English which was a help.
The annoyance of needing a doctors note when racing in France has been mentioned many times. I was lucky in my doctor did not charge me, but I've seen extortionate charges from some. The form itself at the expo is just glanced at and stuck on a pile!
The expo itself was very good. I went on the Friday afternoon and it was easy to access on the very frequent Paris metro system. Number collection was a breeze with a hydration backpack as part of the package.
Then it was on to spending lots of money!! The main sponsor Asics had a good offer on most items- buy 2 and get a further one for free. The rest of the expo was quite similar to London- held in a big space so it didn't feel too crowded. The pasta party box of pasta was big and quite nice.
Raceday itself was amazing. The temperature had shot up, which made all the training in the snow quite annoying, but it brought the spectators out in force.
The bag drop was well organised and the staggered start times and wide road of the Champs Elysees meant that it was not too crowded in the first few miles.
The crowd support was excellent throughout and with names on race numbers alongside nationalities if helped get the extra shouts along the way. The course was generally flat with the exception of a few underpasses which felt like massive hills at the later stages of the race!! It snaked out of the city about mile 6 into a large parkland, ran back through the city with views of Notre Dame, Eifel Tower before going through another park just before the end.
The finish area was a well organised to keep people moving before collecting medals, t-shirt and finally the bag collection.
The water stations on course we're around every 5km and were slightly chaotic. They could have done with being on both sides of the road, as people tended to just stop dead in front or veer across the road in front of you. This was despite the fact they went on for quite a distance. They were quite basic with water and sometimes fruit pieces, but no energy drinks as far as I saw. What was great was the number of hoses spraying cold water over runners, and the tables with buckets of water which was useful to dip hats in!!
The medal was nice, the t-shirt not bad either, albeit with a slightly small head hole (or my head is big, I'm not sure which!).
Overall I had a thoroughly enjoyable time and would recommend this race to anyone. It's an excellent alternative to London in a great (but expensive!) city, with excellent crow support.
Posted on 12.04.18
I ran this half marathon as part of my preparation for the Paris marathon, after reading the good reviews from last year; and it didn’t disappoint.
Living about 40 minutes away I chose to drive and park in the multi-story car park near the station. It was nice to see members of the rotary club directing the runners to the event village and start area in Woking park, about half a mile away.
The event village was a good size for the number of runners and there were plenty of portaloos which is always good!
The baggage drop was in the leisure centre and was organised by race number with plenty of volunteers.
At the start the runners were invited to their pens. The race numbers were different colours based on predicted times. Although there was nothing separating the pens, most people generally seemed to line up in a sensible place. I positioned myself towards the back of the 1:30 pen around the 1:40 pacers. When the gun went off there didn’t seem to be too much ducking and diving around other runners which can be the case in some events of this size.
The course itself was generally flat, with a couple of shortish climbs, but could definitely show PB potential (unfortunately not for me today!)
The course went out into the country roads around Woking and was a really pleasant route. There was one switchback of a few miles so it was nice to see runners coming the other way.
The support was good, particularly at the start/finish and the switchback part. In some of the local villages people were out to support and there were several bands/choirs on the route which was a nice touch. On the quieter more rural parts the marshalls provided plenty of encouragement which was appreciated.
There were several water stations, more than sufficient, and in small bottles which were easy to carry.
At the end you got a nice medal, there were bottles of Yazoo milkshakes, energy bars, haribos and fruit, and a drawstring bag provided by one of the sponsors to put it all in.
Back at the baggage drop I got my bag back quickly.
There was a short medal presentation for the winners.
I had a great day, and will definitely be back next year for another go (hopefully in PB shape then!)
Posted on 20.03.18
Run on a beautiful but chilly morning. The organisation was very good. Plenty of toilets pre-race and a decent size event village. Although there were no starting pens, runners were invited to line up in estimated finishing time order which prevented any problems at the start.
The race was well marshalled, which was appreciated on such a cold day. The roads were closed so it felt safe the whole route.
The route itself was pleasant, mainly country roads. One fairly steep hill but didn’t last too long, and it was straight back down the other side!
The water stations were basic, but three was plenty and well organised. There was some music on course which was a nice touch, as most of race being on the roads had limited support. The locals tended to be out in the villages and gave some encouragement.
Good medal and t-shirt at end, and a very nice flapjack which was welcome!
Only grumble was getting out of the car park at end, with lots of people sneaking round the back to avoid the queue! Car park attendants could have managed the exit better.
Overall, I would recommend this event, and will be back next year.
Posted on 27.02.18