Chris Woods

London, UK, United Kingdom
Member since Feb 2018

My Upcoming Races

07 April 2019
ASICS Greater Manchester Marathon

My Completed Races

2018
British Airways Run Gatwick International Half Marathon
2018
Three Forts Challenge
2018
Thorpe Park Half Marathon

My Latest Reviews

Completed as a first timer in 2018

4.5

Very hilly and beautiful tough trail half marathon

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

Completed as a first timer in 2018

4.3

Good inaugural event

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

Completed as a first timer in 2018

4.5

Hot, but beautiful marathon

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

Completed as a first timer in 2018

4.6

Great half marathon

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

Completed in 2018

4.1

Had a great time!

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