Alton Ten has some serious competition from other ten mile races in Hampshire & the IOW - Hayling Ten is the best local club race with old-school organisation; Ryde Ten is a punishing hilly course and an excuse for a day out on the island; and the Great South is a huge televised event with an ultra-fast course and a raft of elite athletes taking part. Salisbury Ten is also a very good local race over the same distance.
Alton Ten sits alongside these awesome races pretty nicely. It has the local club feel of Hayling and Ryde, and offers an undulating course similar to Salisbury (though not as soul-destroying as Ryde, which remains the hardest ten miler in the south).
Organisation is very good, and as with all the club races in the HRRL the marshals are friendly and enthusiastic, they also know the course well and are positioned well enough that you are never in doubt of which turning to take on the country roads that make up the vast majority of the course. Traffic levels are low and road blocks are well managed, so nothing should interrupt the flow of your race.
The race is run in early May and the past two years have been over a weekend where temperatuures soared after a cooler April, with this in mind it is good to know that there are three water stations which are well-manned and well-stocked, there is also a hose at the end of the race to cool overheating runners. As with all good league races, you can simply ignore the water stations if needed and surge past at race pace with plenty of room (water stations on narrow parts of a course are a pet hate of mine). The private medical cover (as with all of the HRRL races) is very good, a friend of mine who was suffering from heat exhaustion and dehydration after the 2016 race was treated by the team and recovered well.
Alton Ten is a good spring middle distance race option, the price is very good and Alton is a good location for a beer or food post-race.
Posted on 13.04.18
Hayling Ten is a real highlight in the annual calendar for me, I have raced there for the past three years and have already signed up for 2018 well in advance.
Even though the race has recently joined the Hampshire Road Running League (HRRL) it has retained it's local vibe, from start to finish this race is old-school - it only got chip timing in 2017!
The organisation and pre-race communication is very good, and marshals give clear directions and escort runners from the HQ to the start well in advance of the starting gun. The course itself is great, Hayling Island is a generally good looking place and the bleakness of the seafront section is really cool. As is the wind, so please only expect a big PB if it isn't a very windy day, windspeeds regularly exceed 50mph on the coastal section of this race, and miles 4-6 down country roads are also exposed by the lack of physical relief either side of the course. It is pan-flat though, and on a calmer day is a great race for a faster time. The course is varied and interesting, with enough stretches of long road to allow runners to get into a racing rhythym. There is a section in the first 5k called the Billy Trail which is compacted gravel, this reduces pace in that section but more importantly it actually means that UKA classify the race as "trail". This is only really of note if you are aiming for a road race PB, as your Power of Ten record will not consider this event a ten mile road race (even though it's in the HRRL). Semantics I know, but a lot of competitive runners account for race classification.
Overall the race is well-marshalled, but as the host club do not have hundreds of members they cannnot cover every residential road which leads out onto the main seafront towards the end of the race, so watch out for local motorists - most are relaxed, but some clearly consider this annual event to be a pain and are rude. The roads are not closed, though are quiet and the marshals do a good job given their low numbers.
Race HQ is great - it is a sports hall and community centre with plenty of space for changing (though no privacy), it is a shame that there is no bag drop, but the honesty of entrants (and the fact that HQ is manned by people throughout the race) means that I've never heard of anything being stolen or misplaced. Most clubs leave their bags in a big organised pile. There is a kitchen area with a hatch selling tea/coffee/sandwiches/cakes in the main hall and also a tuck-shop style hatch in the entrance hallway selling chocolate, crisps, soft drinks and home-made jam!
You get a medal and water when you finish, though as the price is so reasonable it really doesn't matter what you receive. Chip timing is guaranteed for the 2018 race too, so you can't ask much more for about £15 affiliated entry.
I am very fond of this race, it feels like a proper amateur athletics event yet is welcoming enough for newer runners too. Value for money is exceptional, though you should enter as early as mid summer (the race is in November) as HRRL races sell out well in advance nowadays.
Posted on 12.04.18
Across the Hampshire & IOW running community Gosport Half is regularly considered to be the marquee half-marathon race. It is staged in late autumn and is a fantastic race to target, it also acts as the early-season centrepiece for the Hampshire Road Running League (HRRL).
Organisation is really excellent, with great communications prior to the race and the best race HQ of any club-organised race I have been to (obviously excluding corporate running events).
The course is flat and although it is two laps of an out-and-back the course has enough variety and support to not be boring, especially as you are running at race pace and can always see a visual target to run towards. The Solent coastline is often windy, but the low overall elevation and semi-seltered pathway on the way back in both laps ensure that the race is always good for a PB. There are two opportunities for water on each lap, but they are also well-placed enough for you to run past at full pace without hitting congestion. A local drum/percussion band play throughout the race and it's cool to see them on both laps. As there are hundreds of local league club runners taking part you often get your name shouted out to you on the sections where they are approaching the turn-around you have passed, which just adds to the great atmosphere.
The race is the perfect balance of scale and old-school athletics values. It is big enough (2,000 entrants) to have a real buzz and for runners to get their first experience of a "big" race, but also has a local amateur running feel which means that club and unaffiliated runners of all abilities take part. This in turn means that the field isn't weighted too much towards "fast" or "slow" runners, so there is always space on the course no matter what pace you are running, with little or no congestion at any point.
Goody bags are decent, and awesome race t-shirts are available to buy at race HQ for a small extra cost (take cash or you'll have to give them your email address to pay by BACS later). There is a tea/coffee/cake hatch selling refreshments after the race in the same hall where the awards are handed out.
Gosport Half is a superb event. It is the centrepiece of the "Holy Trinity" of pre-Christmas Hampshire road races alongside Hayling Ten and Victory Five (both flat, fast and outstanding to run in), and offers unparalelled value when compared to big city half marathons, which regularly charge £30+ to enter.
Posted on 12.04.18
Stubbington 10k is an excellent local race. With a surprisingly large field for such a small town the race always runs smoothly. It has a relatively quick course, great organisation and some of the best local marshals.
The opening stretch through the streets of Stubbington allows you to stretch your legs and get into a good rhythm (and is great for warming up prior to the race) before the course takes you through wide country lanes, along the side of the marina, then back into town again for a well-supported finishing sprint.
Bag drop has improved with this year's race (previously runners coming in at over 40 minutes had a long queue for bags) as it has been moved into the big hall. The goody bag is decent and the long-sleeved t-shirts we have received the past three years are excellent winter training tops.
On a personal level this race is always close to my heart as local runners from all the HRRL clubs get to meet up and chat/race against each other after a short Christmas break. It's a great chance to set a PB and start the new year well. I have run it for the past four years, and will continue to take part indefinitely.
Posted on 12.04.18
I've run this race for the past two years (as I take part in the HRRL) and it is a real pleasure to run.
Registration and communication are first-rate, the course is easily wide enough for the field, has some good undulations and is very well marshalled. Traffic is kept at bay admirably, cars never interfere with the race.
Race t-shirts are good quality and are a pretty cool design, ideal for training or as a sports t-shirt. The goody bag has actually useful stuff in it (many races do not). I don't care about medals, but those runners that do say that the Salisbury medal is fairly decent.
I'd recommend this race to anyone in the area, there are a number of fantastic ten mile races in Hampshire and the IOW (Ryde Ten, Alton Ten and the superb low-key Hayling Ten, plus the Great South) but this race is easily fit to be mentioned in the same category. Salisbury is also a great place to go for lunch afterwards.
Posted on 12.04.18