My main concern with this race was that we were instructed there would be no registration on the day, and that it needed to be done on the Saturday afternoon. This took a large chunk out of my Saturday as I didn't have access to the car, and had to travel there via London.
Parking on the day was easy to find, and cost £5, and very close to the start/finish area.
The start area is compact, fairly well laid out. There weren't many toilets, but to be fair, queues were fairly small. Waves were starting at different times, with the half-iron going early. It's probably due to numbers in the water, but the sprint wave went off before us. It would have been better (at least on the bike leg) for us to go earlier to avoid some of the traffic.
The swim route had been changed by the water marshals, which was fine (four short laps). There wasn't too much current and the water temperature was quite warm.
There's a short jog across grass to the transition, where you pick up the bike, and head out to the road leading to the exit, then head on the main road to Henley and then turn towards up a long drag towards Nettlebed. There was a reasonable amount of traffic, but to be fair, the drivers were pretty good (at least to me). There's a short climb at the start which I found hard, and the road to Nettlebed is up but steady. The first part is hard as there's corrugations on the road every 10 metres or so.
At Nettlebed, you do a 180 degree turn on the roundabout and are joined by half-iron cyclists. The descent on the dual carriageway is good, fast and smooth with plenty of room. Both roundabouts were marshalled, along with a motorbike waiting along the road and a temporary traffic signal (could not be avoided, but if stopped 30 seconds taken from time). It was a very wet, windy day and very difficult to avoid puddles (with potentially hidden potholes) at times.
Back into transition, you pass a water station on the way out. It's a nice run, initially along the Thames, then back through some paths, and then through a quiet housing estate. There were marshals at important points and a feed station (gels, water) nearer the end. The course was well signposted.
It wasn't a massively busy event, so quite relaxed, around the hub. There were a few food vans. There wasn't much local support, but as there was a lot of horizontal rain, it wasn't surprising!
All in all, it's a small decently organised event. I'm not sure if I'd do it again as I didn't like to travel to pick up my things the day before (only took a few moments), and I'd prefer to be out on the main roads earlier.
Posted on 31.07.18
I'm going to start with the camping as we spent three nights there. It's a large field, there were just a few toilets and two showers, although there weren't too many queues, even on the Saturday night when the field was full. The toilets stopped flushing a couple of times, but were fixed very quickly when we texted the contact number.
The site was fairly quiet, with people not surprisingly having early nights, but be aware that it's on the flight path into Gatwick, and we had quite a few planes coming in early, mainly on the Saturday morning.
If you're doing one of the shorter events and staying the Sunday night, it's well worth going back to see the full iron distance competitors doing their runs - it's quite humbling to see what people can achieve. Much respect.
You can stay until 1200 midday on the Monday morning, there weren't many people left, but it's worth noting that the toilets were taken away just after 9 - maybe the organisers might like to delay this if people are still there.
There is a pub (Henry VIII) a short walk away, well worth a visit, but the walk along the road isn't that nice, though not too far. .
Regarding the race, we'd registered on the Saturday afternoon, so don't know about if there were queues on the Sunday morning. We had a minor issue with a marshal directing us to the start, rather than transition where I had to leave my shoes for the run, but otherwise things were quite straightforward. The briefing was good and thorough. However, emails sent in previous days had suggested that it would be a wetsuit optional swim. I'd heard nothing else, but no-one used a wetsuit - don't know if they were banned, but it was way too hot for them anyhow.
I think the swim-only waves were due to start before the aquathlon, but in the end we all started together. This made for a very crowded first lap, particularly where you pass through a narrow stream, but the second was a lot more comfortable. The water is not very clear, but there wasn't too much weed. The water was warm, apart from one small stretch in the narrow river part which was quite cool. There were quite a few canoe marshals on the course which was reassuring. Incidentally, the black 2XU buoys are very difficult to spot, the orange ones are much better. We definitely needed help out of the water (there's a difficult and slipper step).
There's a short barefood run to transition, from where you get shoes/hat/sunnies, etc on and head onto the run. It initially looks confusing, but the marshals were very clear. The run is beautiful, going through parts of the castle grounds and surrounding countryside. There are a lot of marshals, all fantastic and supportive, and regular feed stations, with food, water and high5 drinks. Was with tri/multi-distance events, you end up running with people from different waves/distances. There wasn't much support apart from the marshals on the course, but looping through for the second lap near the castle/start was great. The hills weren't too bad (one short steep one on a gravel path near the start), but the heat meant that a lot of people walked up them.
The finish was nice, arriving on my own I got a lot of support from the crowd and my name read out. At the end there's a small medal, the colour of the ribbon denotes the event (green for long aquathlon), though the full iron participants deservedly had a much bigger medal. There were drinks and food at the end but no goody bag.
All in all, it's a lovely (but slightly expensive) event, if you like camping at a race it's perfect as it's fairly close to the start, and the location is gorgeous.
Posted on 13.07.18
My first time doing this, I'd done a 10 k race the previous day with 26 runners, so the number of people arriving at Green Park tube was something of a shock!
This was well organised, the numbers and chips were sent out well beforehand and clear instructions available on the website.
There was the usual queueing for the toilet, but the bag drop was well organised once you realised it was done on number rather than wave colours. It was a nice touch having an A-Z area so that you could meet up with club/charity members before and after.
It took a while to get to the actual start line as there was a pinch point by the entrance, not dangerous or too crowded, but it did take a while to get through. Once through the starting pens we well laid out and not overcrowded.
Considering the amount of people running, it didn't take too long for the orange wave to get going (though there were quite a few from other waves - possibly delayed getting into the start). Once we set of the race wasn't too busy, didn't really have to stop for others, though there were one or two walking early on.
The course is great, through central London with bands and support most of the way. There were two water stations, both well organised (lots of tables), with paper cups on the first one and small plastic bottles at the second. It was a very hot and humid day, so we were all glad of the loud support the closer we got to the finish. The marshals around the course were very supportive.
The finish was also good, we received our goody bags and medals quickly, with only a very short wait for shirts. You exit via the bag drop, so that didn't take long either.
Weather permitting, Green Park is a very pleasant place to linger. We didn't stay too long, but there was a very nice post-race buzz going on.
I'm not massively into really large fields like this, but it would definitely consider doing this race again.
Posted on 29.05.18
I did the 10 k run option this year, after doing the aquathlon last year (can't swim at the moment due to wound on leg). This is a multi-sport event with races starting off at different times, the 5 and 10 k runs were at 1000 am.
Registration was easy, you can collect your number the day before (did this as local to me). However, the timing chip wasn't available until the next day, but there was no queue to collect this. There's no official baggage storage (most people leave these in their cars or in transition), but if you've come by tube/bike for the run you can leave it under the stairs by registration.
The race starts by the lake, with the 5 k (one lap) and 10 k (two) legs going together. There were only 26 in the 10 k, so it's not too crowded. The run initially goes around the lake, and then loops around the Merchant Taylors school sports field. It's funny going past the pavillion whilst the criket teams are warming up, last year it was Middlesex and Sussex 2nd XIs there. The grass surface is good for running and there are some nice long straights. However, quite a bit is unshaded, so it can be a bit hot on the run. You then head off for a second loop, and there is a water station as you start this. There's only really support at the start/end/transition area, but the marshals around the course are all very good. The DJ is enthusiastic as well.
The medal is decent enough for a budget event, and a bottle of water is handed to you at the end. There's a nice atmopshere and feel about the event, there's still a lot going on as people are coming in from the bike and tri events (having runners doing the 70.3 tri overtaking you at speed is quite humbling).
As there are permanent changing facilities, there's quite a few toilets available and the upstairs cafe/bar is lovely. There's a reasonable amount of parking available, and not too far from the tube station at Moor Park.
All in all, it's a nice small multi-sport event, would probably do again as it's local, but may tri the aquathlon or swim next time.
Posted on 29.05.18
This is a small local race with about 250 places, and does sell out. It's located within the sports facilities at Harrow School, within walking distance of Harrow-on-the-Hill station, so relatively easy to get to by public transport. There was also a car park, which looked busy with both runners and tennis players.
Registration was quick, done in a small hut, there seemed to be quite good facilities there with no real queues for toilets. It's quite a nice area in the sun in winter, but could be a bit exposed hanging around if the weather wasn't great.
The race got away on time, and goes straight into two loops of football lane, a steepish narrow road, which soon had people walking and strung out. After the second short loop you start on a course up through Harrow on the Hill, and do two laps of a street circuit around Harrow. There's one more ascent up to the hill, but it's nowhere as near as hard as the start in football lane.
After the second lap you head back into the school and it's a short, very slight uphill to the finish. Bananas and water were at the finish, a small goody bag, and wonderful cake to purchase at the hut. There's also (shock, horror) showers available, and no real queues for them. I also saw people coming out of the sports centre at the venue, but didn't find out if you could use the showers and changing room there.
All in all, it's a nice friendly race, with some good views on the course, albeit next to occasionally busy roads, with only a little local support. Don't think there's much PB potential with that hill at the start, though.
Posted on 13.02.18
There's not many flat parts to this route, which starts in Cassiobury park and heads out to the edges of the Chiltern Hills. The inclines however aren't quite as evil as those in the Ricky Road run, but nevertheless take their toll.
The registration and bag drop in a tent in the park was very efficient. The centre of Watford isn't far away for parking and early coffee, which is useful. The organisers must be quite glad that the Metropolitan Line extension is on hold/cancelled, as the current Watford Met station is in a perfect location for the event.
There are two starts, I was in the red for older age groups, and the two routes merge further down in the park. The start is one of the easier parts of the course, a gentle downhill in the park.
The route then goes through some of the nice housing estates (where there was good support) to the North of Cassiobury Park, before heading into the countryside next to The Grove, where the "fun" starts in the form of hills.
There's not much support out in the rural parts of the race (though many thanks to those who did come out), but the marshalling and water stations were excellent, the road closures were all well covered.
After a long loop through Bucks Hill and Commonwood you return back into Watford, with a slightly shorter run in to the park. The last km to the finish was hard, as it was a steady incline up to the finishing line.
The medal is very classy, an image of the iconic Cassiobury Park tree, and the technical shirt is a basic (but nice, in a bright colour).
This was my slowest ever HM, I hadn't felt great before the race, never really warmed up, and just managed to plod around. I did try something different (walking up the hills, and not using gels), so did get something out of the day.
All in all, it is a good but tough race, recommended as an early season test, well organised, and the number of runners give it a slightly big-race feel.
A huge shout out to all the marshals on the day, they were wonderful.
Posted on 05.02.18
To get the main negative out of the way, the Thornhill park and ride (which we'd booked whilst entering the race) was not great, massive queues, no buses coming through, blocked toilets at the P&R, so not a good start to the day. Fortunately the staff there got those of us with booked tickets on to coaches heading into Oxford, where we were dropped. The coaches had toilets, so a big bonus there!
It's a long walk to the bag drop and then the start from where we were dropped, so the back of the race had people of varied running paces, who all presumably had been at the P&R.
Once the race was underway, it was clear that this was a good course, with quite a bit of room, not too hilly and the potential for fast times.
Crowd support in the city was superb, and good in some of the more suburban areas and villages. There were plenty of water stations, some of which had lucozade.
The route involves a lot of out and back through different parts of Oxford and out to a village, you're facing runners going the other way, which is quite good if you're looking out for people.
The final section loops through a park, which is quite difficult as you can hear the speakers at the finish line, but you still have a couple of miles to go. The crowds at the end were great, really loud and supportive.
After getting your medal, water and banana you have to get to the race village for the bag drop, and this was very crowded and difficult to get into. Once in things were ok, no queues for toilets, and the bag drop queues moved quickly. There were tents for changing, which was nice.
All in all, I enjoyed it more than I thought I would (despite finding the race harder than I should have done). The park and ride needs sorting out, though strictly speaking this wasn't under the control of the race organisers. Would consider doing again, though would have to get there stupidly early or find alternative transport.
Thank you to all the volunteers and marshals at the race.
Posted on 10.10.17
My second time, after a six year gap.
Any easy race for me to get to, one stop on the metropolitan line, easier than driving. There seemed to be plenty of parking though. Race packs are sent out a few weeks beforehand, there's no registration process otherwise apart from announcements. Not too many toilets, but it was really easy to head up to the cricket pavillion which had changing rooms and no wait for toilets. It starts at 3.00 pm, which could lead to a few changes in what to eat pre-race.
The course starts with two loops of the school sports field, which allows spectators to see their runners a couple of times. Despite a lot of rain there was no mud or standing water on the field.
The route then goes out onto the closed roads of the Moor Park estate, a lot of the residents come out to support the race. There is one really long hill, which you think ends after passing Moor Park mansion, but then continues to rise. It's then mainly downhill, with a final flat loop around the sports field back to the finish.
There are two water stations on the course (which were needed on a cloudy humid day), and a third unofficial one from some residents who had someone running.
There's a nice friendly atmosphere about this race, which is in aid of one of the local cancer centres. The start/finish area is a lovely place to linger in good weather, but it was a bit breezy yesterday.
Would recommend this as an inexpensive local race, no PB potential but some nice scenery and views.
Posted on 02.10.17
We picked up the race number on the Saturday which was fairly easy.
On race day we left early (the guide suggested getting there three hours before the start!), but we didn't have too many problems getting in with a short queue around two hours beforehand. Parking up was relatively easy and quite close to the start area.
There were a reasonable amount of toilets. Well done for having some urinals, which meant that men weren't blocking up the individual cubicles, wish more races did this. The coffee queues weren't too bad.
It was nice to be able to see the full marathon get away, and shortly after we went into the field for the warm-up for the half. The start was very well done, with clear instructions on which flag to go behind for estimated finish times. There wasn't a long wait between waves.
The route itself was very scenic, part trail and part paved, with no traffic, through the New Forest. We didn't cross with other waves very much, but were overtaken by the 10k leaders (with bike) at one point.
There were some 3-4 feed stations on the course, some of which had energy drinks in cups. There were permenant toilets about a mile into the race (at a campsite), around halfway (permenant national park toilets, but the gents was like the one in Trainspotting by the time we got there) and some more campsite ones near the end (for the half only).
Near the end the HM course split off from the other three distances, for a seemingly neverending loop around the outside of the finish area. This was hard, but at least I somehow managed to keep my pace high as I thought we must be there soon! It's a nice, well supported finish area.
The finish area was fairly efficient, with medals, drinks and a banana. The goody bad wasn't much at all, a few vouchers for local sports discounts, and small tablets which I haven't investigated yet.
There were plenty of bars and food outlets, some live music, but it there was a fairly cold wind by this time so we didn't linger too long; it would have been lovely on a sunny afternoon.
This brings us to the worst part of the afternoon, getting away from the car park. It was very busy and slightly chaotic, and it took us at least an hour to get back to nearby Lyndhurst; it would have been a lot longer, except that we were parked quite close to the exit side of the field. A bit more organisation, and potentially extra exits might help, though I'm not sure how much could be done as it's just the one main road on that side.
All in all, it's a lovely race, just the leaving parking wasn't great. Would consider doing again, but might camp on site or nearby, use the train/bus shuttle, or bring a bike to ride from nearby accommodation.
Posted on 14.09.17
This was my first sea swim triathlon, and we were fortunately blessed with sunny calm weather on the day (we saw the start of the half marathon the day after, and it was much rougher).
We'd registered the day before, but didn't see any massive queues on the day.
The swim was fairly basic and easy to follow, though I would have preferred having a canoeist on both turn points. The start was nice and wide, so it was fairly easy to find your own line and not too crowded.
We were helped out of the water onto the stones. We'd been advised that we could leave shoes by the edge to help the crossing to cycle transition in the field. It was really useful having toilets in the transition area, by the way.
The bike leg was on closed roads on the seafront, quite a short loop but straight apart from a tight 180 degree turn, which was quite awkward the first couple of times, especially if you can hear faster riders behind you. Pulling away from the far turn (which was at the bottom of a slight incline) made it harder to get back up to speed. As with loop courses, it can be a bit dispiriting to be constantly overtaken if you are (like me) a slower rider/runner.
The run was four out and back loops along the seafront, with good support from bystanders and supporters, and public toilets on the front. There's a drink station at every loop.
All in all, this was a well organised event with good marshals, with a nice ride and run along the seafront.
It should also be added that Seaford is a really nice town with some good walks, cafes and pubs, and it's well worth making a weekend of it.
Posted on 04.09.17
This is a wonderful swim, right in the heart of Copenhagen. If you've ever seen Borgen, it goes around the parliament and central government buildings in a circular route. There are waves every five minutes or so, there's lots of different abilities in each wave, so lots of overtaking going on, but plenty of room to do it in.
There's a fantastic atmosphere around the start with lots of support around the course, and supporters can follow you around, apart from one part which was underground because of metro works.
All in all, this is one to savour and enjoy rather than race around, and a rare chance to swim in clean waters in the heart of a capital city.
Water relatively warm for Copenhagen, as was about 30 celcius on the day.
Posted on 01.08.17
I've done a couple of swims and a sprint tri at Eton Dorney before, but this was my first step up to standard. There is plenty of parking at the venue, and about a 20 minute walk to the race centre.
Registration was very quick and easy, it was nice to have some free gels there. The marshalling from the BTF officials in the transition zone was very strict, but fairly efficient. and enough space (though it was trickier later, coming back off the bike leg when another wave had finished their swim was very busy).
The swim briefing was good and thorough. The start pen was a bit crowded, but that's how it is with I suppose. Really like the water at Eton Dorney, one of my favourite swimming venues.
The transition onto the bike is very smooth, with a good lane to join. The course is fast and flat, and rather humbling if you're not great on the bike and keep being lapped. It was good to go past the spectator area eight times though, there was good support.
Transition onto the run was clear and easy, though busy with another wave coming out of the water. It was nice having the much needed water station at the start and end of every lap. The short, four out and back laps of the run were brutal, starting at about 1315, with no shade. Great to have so much support near the turnaround, though.
All in all, it's a good and well organised race, but a few points:
All in all, a very well organised event, would recommend, and the shorter waves would be great for anyone new to triathlon
Posted on 11.07.17
Entered this as it was local and hadn't done an aquathlon for a while. The parking was nice an easy with a dancing marshal, but there's a tube station about 20 minutes walk away - may be a bit difficult to get the first event on a Sunday though.
I'd picked up my chip and number on the Saturday afternoon, so just went to the well organised transition to leave my running gear.
The swim briefing was very through and friendly. The swim itself was good, well signed and not too much in the way of weeds. Even with a fairly small field people still bump into each other though.
Getting to transition was ok, it can get a bit busy with various events taking place and people coming through with bikes, but there weren't huge numbers and it was easy getting through.
The run was lovely, shaded in the first part around the lake, and then past the sports fields and school grounds, including the cricket pavillion, where it looked like a 2nd XI county match was about to take place. The speed of some of the elite tri runners overtaking me on the two laps was something to behold.
There was a good reception at the finish, the only place where there were more than one or two spectators. Didn't use the changing rooms, though they are quite good (have done swimming evenings there).
The cafe/bar upstairs is lovely, though the ice cream van was rather overpriced.
All in all, a lovely friendly event, with a great atmosphere. Really enjoyed it and might be tempted again.
Posted on 30.05.17
My first marathon, and a biggie! Wonderful atmosphere at the start, having access to the Amex area and coffee/biscuits was nice. The start pens were really well organised and colour coded.
I left with the pink wave, there were no real problems with overcrowding, we were able to start running as soon as we were across the start line.
The first five miles or so loop around the centre of town, so you are able to see your supporters about three times. There's a few small hills but nothing too difficult.
The route then heads east along the coast and past the blind veterans association building. This is all very scenic and it's good to see runners going the other way.
Coming back through town, you are met with a wall of sound, the support was incredible! The route then heads away through some back roads with plenty of support and music.
Once back on the coast, the grim section through an industrial estate out to the power station starts - there was little support, no shade and to compound matters the water station had run out - not good for a big city marathon.
The final section along the promenade was better, though hard going, but with lots of support. The finish was lined with supporters and wonderful.
After the finish, they had run out of medium T shirts so I ended up with a large. I think the protein drinks had also run out, but they had crisps, electrolyte tabs and water.
It was really crowded after the runner exit. Fortunately, I could head to my charity tent, but for others it would have been difficult getting food and drink as it was further away and crowded.
In summary, a very good race that has some issues - more water was needed and there were a lot of people ill around the course. Medical support is very good however. The finish line and T shirts also need some work.
Didn't spoil my first ever marathon, but some more experienced runners I spoke to were disappointed with the situation
The park and ride was very efficient, though there were really long queues from/to the Brighton direction before and after for cars.
Posted on 12.04.17
Parked up at a station further up the line and got train to West St Leonards, organisers had arranged for train to start from London, so easy to get to race.
The bag drop was just a tent to leave your stuff.
Great atmosphere at the start, with bagpipe band after 200 metres.
The course has lots of climbs almost immediately, it is a hilly course. There's a few stretches of road without support, but otherwise a superb atmosphere, the people of Hastings really come out for the race.
There's some long downhill stretches before hitting the seafront, which would have been lovely but for the really strong wind in our faces. There's a small, none to special goody bag at the end and cups of tea. The medal is an impressive horse brass without a ribbon.
The local pubs were all really welcoming for runners, which was needed on a cold day, but the centre of town is a little further away.
I loved the race, and wouldn't mind doing again.
Posted on 12.04.17
Did this as part of Brighton training.
The car park was at a school away from the centre of town, a bit of a walk but no traffic problems and plenty of parking. There were plenty of places for coffee and food in the town centre open before the race.
I arrived at the start quite late, so don't know if I missed a briefing. Getting to my normal spot nearer the back wasn't too difficult. As well as the normal single loos, there was a urinal area for men which helped with queues, though certain spots weren't that private.
The race initially started through the centre of town, then left on one of the main roads out. This wasn't closed, so there was some traffic passing the runners, and pavements only at certain spots.
After a mile or two we turned onto back roads up in the hills towards Ashridge. There wasn't much in the way of traffic on the roads, and plenty of marshalls around, and sufficient water stations.
The hills aren't too bad, long steady ones rather than anything too steep, and the final mile or so is a long downhill (which hurt my foot slightly), so a quick finish is possible.
Didn't use the baggage drop, so got away quickly into town. Berko has a lot of places to eat, and is easy to get to by train (the station is close to the start). It was quite a long uphill to the school car park though.
Well worth doing if you don't mind a few hills with nice Chiltern scenery.
Posted on 12.04.17