Sarah Wills

Member since Apr 2017

My Completed Races

2018
Long Course Weekend Wales Swimming
2018
ABP Newport Wales Marathon
2018
Merthyr Half Marathon
2018
Cardiff Triathlon
2017
Brecon Carreg Cardiff Bay Run

My Latest Reviews

Completed in 2018

4.6

Brutal by name and nature!

The Big Brutal Swim

Did the 5km wetsuit last year and attempted the 10km this year. Conditions got the better of me and I pulled out around 7km, that said I was well looked after and I couldn’t fault the kindness of folk and medical staff. The weather was pretty grim on the day for us, sadly. 

Registration was straight forward, near the race start and local parking is ample - we parked for £4 in Llanberis. 

Race briefing was well organised and thorough, feed station was good mix of snacks and hot/cold drinks, space to put your own nutrition there too. It’s a 1.25km lap and you get out every 2 laps for refuelling and so the medical staff can pull anyone looking ropey (ie how I looked!)

Good supervision on the course, kayakers, paddle board and raft who were following swimmers and picking anyone up who was struggling.

Nice t-shirt at the finish. Goody bag included a cap, timing chip, flapjack, sweets and a car sticker. 

Scenery of Snowdonia is always breathtaking - even in the mist and rain! 

Posted on 13.08.18

Fireworks and jellyfish

Completed this event, part of the Long Course Weekend, as the full distance this year after doing the half last year. Tenby never fails to put on a spectacular show for Long Course and the swim is particularly epic. The beach is beautiful, the crowds are amazing and there’s not much else that compares to running into the sea with over 2000 other swimmers while the music and fireworks blare out. 

The mad cram at the first buoy is one to be wary of if you’re new to ow swimming, but hang back slightly and you’ll be fine. Sighting was hard work this year due to the bright sun - not much they can do about that! The medal is cool and the thousands of spectators lining the cliffs make it feel like a big event!

Watch out for jellyfish in the part of the world, I only saw baby ones this time but they did sting a couple of people, they only realised after the swim though. 

Posted on 08.08.18

Completed as a first timer in 2018

4.3

Fast, flat and good fun

Loved Cardiff Tri - completed as my second Olympic distance. Registration day before was nice and easy, good set up of stalls to grab some clobber and we got socks, a cow bell, foam hand and energy bar on sign up. 

Race start was delayed due to buoys not being set up, but only 10mins or so. Swim goes off in waves at 5 mins intervals and are mixed genders (not what I’d seen before) but was fine. I had issues navigating the swim but I think that’s my poor sighting rather than the course. 

Transition was easy to navigate and the bike course was 3 13km laps, so ran slightly short at 39km. It was fast and flat, saw one nastyish crash the other side - but I think they caught the turn too quickly. 

Run was 2 laps over the barrage - very exposed and hot but I love the views of the Bay here. Ran short at around 9km which was quite frustrating as I was pacing for 10km but ah well, the massive crowds at the end and name check as I crossed the line was pretty epic. Nice medal too. 

Posted on 08.08.18

Completed as a first timer in 2018

3.7

Flat and fast but a bit lonely at times

ABP Newport Wales Marathon

Pros

- Great to have a flat, fast mass participation marathon in Wales

- Fab t-shirt and medal

- Easy registration (everything sent through the post in advance)

- Good feed stations, regular and offering water/lucozade/gels

- Lots of toilets along the route (although they did fill up and run out of toilet roll so were a bit grim at points)

- Good environmental ethos, lots of recycling bins throughout the route encouraging runners to bin gel packets and bottles 

- Great support in certain parts of the route; loved the crowds and live band in Magor, and the crowds at the start/finish

Cons

- Issues with park and ride (organisers well aware, pushed start back by 30mins and have said they will review) Consequence was it took 1hr40 to go 2 miles, we didn’t get to the race village until 9.10 (original start time 9am), in a rush and no signage directing us to start pen added to our pre-race panic!

- The route, while flat, suffers from being so rural at times as it meant miles and miles of long country lanes with no supporters - it was tough on morale but then any marathon has its low points 

- Getting to Magor later on would boost morale as there was so much going on there but we arrived at 10 miles, boost would’ve been nice later on

- Out and back to the transporter bridge was a bit soul destroying in the late stages, not sure what can be done there though 

Posted on 02.05.18

Completed as a first timer in 2018

4.2

Views of the Valleys

First time racing this one, it’s a small event - only 550 registered - but a lovely one. 

Pros

- Easy registration & good facilities, parked 400metres from the start/finish and about 100metres from registration. Perfect!

- Everything you need is in the College where you register; toilets, info, masseurs, bag drop etc. We didn’t use the bag drop as we could walk to the car. We got there quite early to get a space, but local car parks are only 5-10mins walk away. 

- Nice atmosphere, mainly club runners but lots of friendly supportive folk around - even a Welsh male voice choir before we set off. Quite a few locals dotted along the route cheering us on.

- Lots of water stations, and a Lucazade stop in the second half. Feed stations with gels, oranges and sweets in the second half too. 

- Lovely views of the Welsh Valleys, mostly along the cycle routes either side of the a470 so lots of countryside views. 

Cons

- Marshalls were sparsley spread along the route, no chance of really getting lost as it’s mostly one path to follow but with a small field I did wonder if someone were to fall ill then maybe more Marshalls would be useful. Wasn’t really an issue on the day.

- There are hills in the Valleys! It’s very achievable but be warned of a few steep inclines and 2 sets of steps along the route.  

- My husband and I recorded it as 20.9km on Garmin, not a major issue, we just didn’t get a half marathon on Strava. 

Posted on 27.03.18

Completed as a first timer in 2017

4.7

One for the bucket list!

Having only swam 2.5km before attempting the 5km lake swim I was a little nervous about this, a friend was doing the 10km and sold it to us on the lovely location, local campsite and friendly set up as he'd done it the year before. It did not disappoint! I've done some open water swims (much shorter!) but none in as spectacular location as this! Who can beat swimming at the foot of Snowden in the sunshine?!

Set up was simple but easy to navigate and had everything we needed, feed stations offered snacks, hot and cold drinks to participants and even spectators got drinks too. It's a 1.25km lap and you get out every 2 laps. So for me I got out halfway, fuelled on squash and a gel I'd left under the table and then got back in for my 3rd and 4th laps. The food was much appreciated when I finished though, as was the hot coffee!

Water was 16 degrees so not too bad and the marshalls on land and on water were looking out for anyone struggling - I saw a lady swimming with a kayak escort as they were concerned she was getting too cold, they were with her very quickly and checking everyone when they got out to see we were okay. Everyone was very friendly too.

Nice t-shirt at the finish, only slight negative is no finisher's medal, but not the end of the world!

 

 

Posted on 14.08.17

Completed as a first timer in 2017

4.2

Muddy good fun

Avon Valley Railway 4/10k - February

This was my first trail race and what a day to try it! After a down pour the day before the course was completely water-logged and we were wading through knee-deep water at some points. It was a challenge to say the least! Despite the difficult conditions the set up was fairly low key but well organised, it's a fairly small event but a good for me as a newbie! There's a steady 2km on roads, then 6km through lovely countryside, some tight gates to navigate which slowed things down slightly and then back along the 2km of road to finish. Nice finisher's medal too. Good value for money all in all. 

Posted on 23.07.17

Completed as a first timer in 2017

4

Excellent beginner British Triathlon event

As a total beginner to cycling, only had a road bike since January, I was really nervous about doing this but with a triathlon coming up I thought it would be a good entry into transitions and competitive biking being as it was an official British Triathlon event. 

Pros:

Friendly marshalls and event staff

Good venue, easy to find and all in one place 

Good cycle route, no scary descents but fairly undulating so was still a decent challenge

Nice event t-shirt and medal

Print out of times including transitions available on the finish line 

Excellent beginner event, but also good for club triathletes - I was near the back of the field as there were a lot of very good runners and cyclists  

Cons:

Start was a little hasty, was expecting a briefing and we were just set off 

2nd run route was 3 laps of the go-kart track which was a bit of a grind

Not much to complain about overall, was super chuffed with myself for doing this, would definitely do it again!

Posted on 02.05.17

Completed as a first timer in 2017

4.1

Lovely bay run in the sun

Brecon Carreg Cardiff Bay Run

Positives - well attended and organised event, good quality medal and t-shirt, nice setting in the Bay, lively atmosphere and attracted elite runners, well sign-posted route, good crowds. Good price, especially with discount as I'm signed up for the Cardiff Half.

Negatives - start pens were confusing and I ended up behind a lot of slower runners, course had a number of out and backs with tight turns around cones which slowed things down, more water available at the finish would've helped, hot weather meant a bit of a scrum for water at the end!

Overall definitely worth doing again!

Posted on 02.04.17