Welsh Ben

Bristol, United Kingdom, United Kingdom
Member since May 2017

My Completed Races

Dauntsey 10K
Mizuno Endure24 - Leeds
Brecon Carreg Cardiff Bay Run
St illtyds Trail Race
Kelston 10K

My Latest Reviews

Completed as a first timer in 2018


A cracking running/camping combo

Endure24 is a multi-lap relay or solo race with camping included. I’d been signed up for Endure Leeds as part of a relay team. Registration seemed straightforward and when I got to the site on the day of the race I was handed my number by teammates at our camping spot. It’s not an easy place to get to unless you have a car unfortunately so plan well ahead.

The site is set out on several fields with a couple of acres of tents and parking spots in the adjacent field. There’s an area set aside for food outlets near the start line and toilets set out throughout the campsite. There were also a number of showers, but these were sometimes cold and had long queues through most of the day (although if you wanted a shower, the early hours of the morning seemed best). 

The race starts at midday under an inflatable arch with an initial 200m around the edge of the field before it heads in to the forest. The first half is largely uphill, with a couple of sharp inclines and declines but nothing too significant on a gravel path. The second half weaves through the forest, past a water station at km 5.5 (ish) before a downhill section followed by a sharp incline of blinding white dusty rock that had been put down around the field. After this there’s a short section across a field before it joins a track which makes its way around another forest before a short downhill and a climb up the double step path, bringing you in sight of the finish line, 0.5km away. The final stretch winds through a tree lined route, around a couple of bends, under a second inflatable arch before a climb to the finish line corner and a 50 m grassy dash. 

As a relay, once the lap (or multiple laps) are complete you need to hand a band to a teammate before they go off on their laps. This is pretty smooth but it might be an idea to take something memorable so that the runner completing the lap can pick you out in the crowd. 

Night running is fun, the route is really well marked so there’s no real likelihood of getting lost. The route is largely gravel track so there is a need to be careful of tripping in the night (I had a little stumble during a double lap).

The atmosphere between runs is really relaxed, plenty of food and a great DJ and the hot weather helped with the relaxing, if not the running!

It’s definitely a race worth doing once and I’m already signed up to go again next year!

Posted on 09.07.18

Completed as a first timer in 2018


Fantastic Scorching River Run

As with all Aspire events that I’ve done, registration was straightforward with plenty of email updates. I’d signed up for the 15km race with @carolinesandall and looked forward to the flattest Aspire race i’ve ever done! There was  a 7.5 km event starting at the same time (as well as several small races for little kids that started beforehand).

There was plenty of parking at the Stothert & Pitt Rugby Club and registrationwas inside the clubhouse. There were plenty of toilets with no queues!

The race started from near the clubhouse and went around the rugby posts, through a hedge, around another field and then out onto the trail near the river.

From there it weaved through some wheat fields which had to be run in single file owing to the narrow path. This was a bit of a pain because you couldn’t get around people. Once through the field there was a few km alongside a dual carriageway before turning on to the Bristol and Bath Path. After a km the route heads down some steps onto a small track, through a few fields and then back on the path again for another km. The route then turned off the path on to a riverside track which followed the river for a few km back to the club and then a small lap around the field. For 15km runners you then do the full circuit a second time.

It was an absolutely roasting day and running in those fields with radiating heat and uneven terrain was a challenge. For the first lap there was a water station at about 5km but it did feel like it wouldn’t be enough for two laps because of the heat. The Marshalls our on the course recognised this and set up impromptu water stations all the way around which was absolutely fantastic. It was great to see organisers adapt to the weather like that.

The medal for finishing was really nice as usual and the table full of fruit, chocolate and crisps was much appreciated. 

I’ve done most Aspire races and every one has been fantastic, well organised and a cracking challenge and this was no different. I’d definitely do it again.



Posted on 10.06.18

Completed in 2018


A Guide running perspective

This review is from the perspective of entering it and running as a guide runner for a visually impatient entrant.

The registration was very straightforward, as soon as the organisers knew I was to be the guide runner, I received an email asking for my details really quickly. I’d asked for a course map so I could check out the route on google maps and that was sent through quickly too.

On race day the car park was in a field and considering it had been a wet week was fine to park on. Registration was in a club up some steps. There weren’t any queues for the gents toilets which is always a bonus!

The race starts near a railway bridge before weaving through small villages. From a guide running perspective, the roads are generally fine but there are some narrow lanes to navigate which wouldn’t be too much of a problem if they’re closed to traffic but they weren’t. In addition, the side of the roads were worn and there were some potholes, which combined with open narrow roads made for some tricky moments. The race ends with 20 yards on to a field over some puddles and undulating terrain which we needed to run carefully across. There was one water station at half way, but we didn’t use it. I hadn’t considered the challenges of picking up water en route from the table as a guide so I’ll have to think in more detail about that in the future.

Once we finished we were both given a medal (I don’t expect a medal as a guide runner so that was nice) and a goody bag with water and some sweets in.

All in all this is a relatively flat route and was fine to guide run on but got a bit hairy in places with passing cars. In addition, there was a great friendly feel to the race, cake to buy back at registration and a nice prize giving ceremony. I’d do this race again as both a guide and on my own.




Posted on 04.06.18

Completed as a first timer in 2018


Get up them hills

I’ll say it straight away, this ultra is hilly! It’s an out and back on the same route and will throw up different challenges dependent on the weather (I can imagine a soaking event would be tough) but on this occasion it happened to be the hottest bank holiday on record!

Registration was really straightforward and there were plenty of emails leading up to the event. I had a lift down on the day, picked my number up from registration at the yacht club and met dozens of old and new friends before the race started. The toilets weren’t a problem with some inside the club and others in the car park block.

The first 5k are flat along the canal, through a housing estate, then woods and to the first climb through the woods. From here there’s a bit of track then a lovely climb through bluebell lined paths and then out onto fields. The first iffy bit was a climb over an electric fence but once over it you’re out onto fields.  The first aid station was 7km in, close to the bottom of a long descent and it was amazing. Pork pies, crisps and sweets aplenty.

To get to the second section there was a tricky bit where the tape markers were on both sides of the junction but I was running with the super navigator Matt Tooze who knew his way arounds. Then we hit a fast road and ran along it for a mile before a descent down a gravel riverbed to the second checkpoint.

The third checkpoint was a tough slog. The memorable bits include climbing fences to avoid cows, very steep roads and very long downhills before a lovely run alongside the reservoir to checkpoint 3.

The return section felt harder, felt like more overall uphill sections and the last 5km although on the flat were very hard work. Particularly tough bits included the  hill at the last checkpoint and a grassy nettle filled hill not long after that.

The race finish was back at the yacht club and the reception was great! The medal was fantastic and the tshirt (which I left at the club :-0 ) was lovely. 

A big thanks to the checkpoint marshals who were really kind and helpful from start to finish. Thanks in particular to the chap at the last checkpoint who made me a cracking jam sandwich!

One of the best bits of this event was the number of amazing people who turned out to give it a crack in really warm weather. Huge respect for anyone who crossed that start line. Those people, particularly #visorclub #gss and twitter friends made the whole event unforgettable.

I’d say that better signage is the one big thing i’d Improve on for next year. Without Matt i’d still be running somewhere in mid-Wales by now. Some bits feel a little unsafe, like the mile on road but it’s not too bad at all.

I’m a big fan of running hills (as many who run with me regularly know) Its definitely an event I’d do again despite the really technical terrain, and if the company is half as good then it’ll be great!


Posted on 09.05.18

Completed as a first timer in 2018


Fast course but not pretty

This is the second of three events through Run4Wales, the others being Cardiff Bay (last month) and Barry Island (August). Registration was easy and there was plenty of info sent through beforehand.

My number was sent through a few weeks beforehand along with a flyer setting out the course route.

I drove over on the day because there are no trains going between Bristol and South Wales early on Sunday mornings. Considering this is a big event with marathon and 10k I’d have thought liaising with public transport providers would have been sensible, but I guess that didn’t happen.

I parked on the opposite bank of the river  and didn’t experience any traffic at all coming from the Coldre roundabout. The bag drop is the best I’ve seen at any race bar none and there wasn’t a queue at all for the toilets which was another first for such a big race. A massive well done on that front.

Both the marathon and 10k were delayed by 30 minutes due to some park and ride problems getting runners to the start, but hopefully as this was the inaugural event that’ll be sorted by next year.

The start of the 10k was a squeeze. The first km was impossible to get into a stride and it would be great if that’s sorted next year. I didn’t enjoy running up and down verges to overtake.

The route goes down a main road past the passport office and turns left to go over the suspension bridge. From there it’s along a dual carriageway then through an industrial area, a housing estate and then more industrial areas. At the 6km mark the route goes down a long road to the foot of the transporter bridge before doubling back on itself, turning left and left again over the suspension bridge, before the final 1km stretch to the finish line. There was a water station at the 6km mark too.

The medal is very nice, as is the tshirt. We were also given a banana, water and a granola bar.

It’s a fast and relatively flat course so there’s definite PB potential. I’m not a fan of the current route though and it could have gone out into the countryside a bit just to escape the concrete jungle for a few km. Saying that, it was really well organised and I’m sure the park and ride issue will be sorted for next year. It would also help if the organisers got in touch with public transport providers which will ease a lot of the current park and ride issues and give more opportunity to expand the event. The organisers don’t need to touch the bag drop and toilets, they were spot on. 

I’ll be back if they can sort out the congestion after the start line for the first km and change the route so it’s a little less depressing.

Posted on 30.04.18

Rocky, hilly, mud fest

I did this race in 2015 (or 2016, I can’t remember) so I knew what I was about to experience...  This time I went with @Oxongardengirl and @Carolinesandall.

This race is in Old Down Country Park, near Thornbury. It’s very difficult to get to unless you’ve got a car or can care share.

Parking on the day was straightforward and race number pick up was from the registration near the start line. There aren’t many runners, so there weren’t any toilet queues which is a first! It’s definitely a trail shoe race. Wear road shoes and you may live to regret it!

The race started at the top of the Down, about 100 yards from the on site cafe (which is lovely). It wends it’s way down hill for about 0.5km before following the outer edges of recently ploughed fields. This was muddy and wet so was hard going. After a km and after running down and then up a slippery, muddy 6ft deep dip called the travelator by the marshal, it turned up the field and then back across the top of the field. This stretch was very hard going with big sharp rocks littered all over the route.

Once through this bit it doubled back on itself but instead of sharp rocks it was shin deep mud for about a km. this bit was very draining. Once through this bit there was a short uphill section followed by a very steep hill where at one point it helps to use your hands to propel you up. This then weaves along very narrow woodland paths before opening up onto a wider section that stretches a km through the woods before a quick, winding descent back to thetravelator. From here it’s a long climb on slippery muddy paths back up to the top of the hill before about 0.5 km on a track back to the start where water is handed out in plastic cups. As it’s a two lap race you then set off to do it all again!

This is a really tricky race with many different terrain types and some really challenging sections. I love races like this because they’re so challenging and varied but can completely understand why some might not! The friendly and helpful atmosphere at Aspire races makes a big difference too. I really enjoy Aspire races so I’d probably do it again (but I might need a few years to forget how hard it was first!)


Posted on 14.04.18

Completed in 2018


Great race down the bay

I’d signed up for this race as part of a series of three (others being Newport 10k and Barry Island 10k) and found registration easy. My number was posted to me a week or so before the race.

The race was held in Cardiff Bay and starts outside the Wales Millenium Centre. It’s about a 20 minute walk from Cardiff Central train station (instead of walking back to the station jump on one of the boats and take a cruise up the Taff which drops you off near the Millenium Stadium and 5 mins from the station).

There were plenty of toilets and maybe 10 minute queue at most. There are a lot of runners (ca.4500) so the start is staggered and broken into several waves. 

The route heads up Lloyd George avenue before doubling back and weaving in and around the streets of the bay before heading out over and back over the barrage. The route weaves again around the roads before a dogleg up Lloyd George avenue again before a 500m run down to the finish line. The route has numerous sharp turns around cones that takes the pace out of the run and it can get a bit congested, but the marshals do their best to direct everyone safely around.

There’s a large water station at the 5km which was great to avoid bumping into other runners and a bottle dropping area as well. 

The crowds on the course were fantastic throughout and were incredibly supportive. The finishing line crowds were as good as any race I’ve ran.

On finishing you get a lovely medal, a bottle of water and a nice t-shirt.

This race is incredibly well organised, is in a beautiful place and easy to get to do I’ll be back again!

Posted on 28.03.18

Completed in 2018


Hot hot hot

I’d signed up to this race because lots of other friends had already done so through the #UkRunChat package. I booked separately to this package.

Registration was very straightforward and every question I had was answered by the Limassol team. Closer to the race when I wasn’t sure where I’d get my number they assured me it would be at my hotel and it was.

On race day we got the bus down to the start line and got ready to go. There were plenty of toilets although no toilet roll when I got there, so for those needing a sit down it would have been unpleasant.

The marathon starts from the marina area of Limassol along the boardwalk and with only 400-500 runners it wasn’t a squeeze. The route winds out of Limassol through some built up areas, construction sites and fields before returning back near the start for the second 21km. This section heads out eastwards through the middle of Limassol along the main strip and out beyond the Amathus archaeological site before doubling back on the same route. The final km was along the boardwalk. On finishing we got a lovely medal, a beer, an ice spray on the legs and the option of a massage.

There were kilometre markers throughout , but there was virtually no one supporting along the route excepts several groups of children with drums and whistles at different places (which were much appreciated). The water stations were a mix of water and electrolyte which despite its taste I was grateful of. I did manage to grab a banana and an orange en route too. The day itself was very hot and unfortunately wet sponges had been used up by the time we got around half way so I resorted to tipping bottles of water down my back to cool off.

I also wasn’t quite sure on road closures. The first part was closed, but during the second part there were cars travelling along the route now and again.

All in all it was a hot and rather lonely marathon which made it quite tough. Thankfully other runners helped overcome that. In addition there were a lovely group of friends who made the days around the marathon a pleasure.

I stayed on in Limassol beyond the race for another week and lounged around the pool and beach and took in some of the sights. There weren’t many travel offices open near the hotels as I guess it was off season, but if you wanted a beach/pool holiday then Limassol is lovely for relaxing.

I’ll definitely remember this race for lots of reasons, but considering it’s location, route and lack of support I don’t think I’d do it again.


Posted on 25.03.18

Completed in 2018


Great seafront race

Booking the Llanelli half marathon was very straightforward and there were frequent emails keeping us up to date and when a route change was required we were told in advance and described it  clearly too.

On the day the queues to get to the car parks were really long. I queued from 25 minutes on a 1km stretch of road. There seemed to be plenty of parking available once through the queues.

The Parc Y Scarlets Stadium was open for bag drop and toilets which was great. Standing up queues were non existent but sitting down queues seemed as long as any other race. The indoor space was an opportunity to meet up with some lovely people pre race in the warmth too.

The race starts outside the stadium and heads out on the bypass before turning down towards the golf course and nature reserve. This is a few miles of gravel before joining Millenium Way from about mile three to 6.5. The turn is at a tatie on the hill before a return trip back exactly the same way to the finish line outside the stadium. There were at least three water stations and one gel station on the route which was good too.

On finishing there was a nice medal and a great tshirt which was much improved on last year. There was a big queue for tshirt being given out by a couple of people on one table so hopefully that’ll be sorted out next year.

All in all a great day made even better by the great people who ran it with me. I’ll look forward to it next year again.

Posted on 25.02.18

Completed as a first timer in 2018


Beautiful scenic race

I’d signed up to the race through a transfer from a friend who had to withdraw. Switching entry was really easy and the process very smooth and quick. I was still entered as Female on the system (as a relic from my friends original entry) and asked if it needed to be changed but I didn’t hear back so assumed it was ok (which it was).

The event was easy to find and the local car park had plenty of space. Registration was in the pub and after a 5 minute queue I’d got my number. The queue for the gents in the pub was tiny but the ladies toilet queue was enormous.

The race briefing was in the park in Melksham and the start line was on the main road. The race itself started off with a short hill followed by a about 5 undulating miles through the countryside. The roads weren’t closed and there were several idiotic drivers zipping past runners around blind corners which was pretty dangerous.

The course turned back on itself roughly 5 miles in and passed through some lovely areas including Lacock. There was a short uphill section after Lacock followed by a return along the same country lanes for a few miles. The finish line was back in the park on the path. The water station in this race was roughly around the 3 and 7 mile mark.

The medal is beautiful with what I think is Wiltshire’s county bird, the Great Bustard on it. There was also a bottle of water, chocolate and some sweets in the bag and a newspaper from the sponsors.

It was a great race, the people around the route were really supportive and the marshalls fantastic. It was definitely worth doing and I’d like to enter again.

Posted on 12.02.18

Completed in 2018


Muddiest race of the year

Registration for this race was nice and straightforward although I nearly missed out because it sold out quickly! I received plenty of update emails in the weeks leading up to it which was great.

On the day parking was ok this year, with plenty of spaces in the builders yard being made available. If you get there early the easier parking will be.You pick up your number in the village hall on the day just down the road from the Waiting Rooms cafe. There’s no official bag drop but you can leave your bag in the registration hall if you want at your own risk.

There are a few portaloos and hardly any queuing which is always a plus!

The race starts from a path adjacent to the hall. It heads up a path before doubling back through waterlogged field and ankle deep watery mud. It weaves through the trees before a short section on the Bristol to Bath path. From here it weaves through several fields and deep muddy slopes which made it very hard going. There are further incredibly muddy stretches in between a few waterlogged fields before a stretch of dry path back to the start for a second loop of the course.

There was a water station at the half way point and at the end we were given a decent medal (not as nice as others I’d had from the same organisers this year) and the usual and very welcome table of goodies to nibble on at the end.

This is a really challenging course given the weather, waterlogged and muddy terrain. In particular, running up and along sloping banks made of nothing but mud was a challenge, even in trail shoes. Despite that, I really like the course and I’ll be back again next year!

Posted on 29.01.18

Completed as a first timer in 2018


Hills and views!

Having decided to enter this race two days beforehand the instructions on the website were really clear as to how to sign up on the day. 

Registration was in the local pub which was a bit of a squeeze and unless you got there super early, parking was along the main road. It was freezing outside so I think everyone huddled indoors for warmth. There was an informal bag drop and a few portaloos with about a 10 min queue behind the pub near the start line.

The race was split into waves to help with congestion at a the first gate which was sensible. The race started in a field behind the pub and a short lap was used to split people out further before the gate. Once through the first gate there was a lot of up! About three km of it, along what appeared to be an old stream bed full of rocks, roots and mud. This opened up on to more of a farm track after a small section of tarmac.

Once on top of the hill the hill the route goes through fields and forests and small stretches of road before a descent largely down the same route as you come up. the finish line was nice and muddy and once finished you get a medal with the race profile on it. There are sweets and cake in the bag drop tent too!

The weather for the day was perfect, cold and clear skies. This helped make this one of the most picturesque races I’ve ever done. The view from the top of the hill was spectacular and the forest trails were really nice to run.

I’d definitely do it again.


Posted on 09.01.18

Completed in 2017


Boxing Day cobweb cleaner

Glynneath Boxing Day 5

This race is perfect for clearing the Christmas cobwebs and helps me burn off the several tonnes of food I’ve mamaged to eat the week before.

Registration is easy, either online or on the day. This year I entered on the day, plenty of places available and no queueing. Registration and medal collection is in the community hall whilst the start line is about a mile away near the leisure centre. There’s not much parking down there so go early if you want a spot in the car park. For the first time ever, there was a short queue for the men’s toilets and the ladies had no queue! 

Max Boyce, a famous welsh comedian got us underway this year (although I couldn’t hear a thing he was saying from where I was). If you haven’t done it before you might want to start a little closer to the front so you can hear what’s being said. I still haven’t heard any proper race briefing but that may be because I’m always half way back and there’s no sound system.

The race is all tarmac, 2.5 miles out and back. It is not flat! It’s essentially a generally downhill first half followed by an uphill second half. The halfway point is a traffic cone in the middle of the road and marshals directing you back up. There was no water station this year, but for a cold 5 miles I’m not sure it’s really needed.

It’s not chip timed and the start/finish is a chalk line on the road. Once you finish you’ll need to go back up the main road to the hall to pick up your medal.

I really enjoy this race and this year was even better for the company of @firsthurdle and others. I’ll definitely be back there next year!

Posted on 31.12.17

Completed in 2017


Tough 10k

This is the second time I’ve entered the 10k Santa Scramble at Brean Down. Registration is very easy online and you pick your number up on the day. This year I ran it with @carolinesandall and @Oxongardengirl.

Car parking is easy at the event but you’d struggle to get there by any other mode of transport. Registration is very close to the car park and the start line is directly outside it. There’s the option to dress up as santa for this race (which of course we did. There were hardly any queues for the toilets too which is almost unheard of!

The race, a two lap tour of a 5km circuit, begins with a 100 m stretch of tarmac before hitting a very steep tarmac path which rises for about 80m before levelling out for a few metres. The course runs along the top of Brean across the grass and in doing this you head up another steep hill, before a short downhill and then yet another tough climb to the Trig point.

Theres a steep, muddy and slippery downhill to the fort at the end of the Down before a relatively short but muddy climb back up on to the gravel path which leads after a few km back to the steep downhill section. Once you’re down the steep hill there’s a water station before the second leg of the race starts by going back up the steep climb again.

Once you cross the finish line you get a bottle of water and a medal. This tear’s Medal was a cracker and was much better than last year’s so a big thumbs up. There were sweets and cake in the registration building for everyone too.

I really like this race, not just because it’s a fun Christmas event but because it is a real challenge. If you don’t like hills don’t do it, but if you’d like to step beyond flat races and challenge yourself and still have fun, this is a great one to do. It’s great value for money and I’ll be back again next year.



Posted on 06.12.17

Completed as a first timer in 2017


Mo Hills!

The Bristol MoRun is held in Ashton Court and follows the same route as the St Peter’s Hospice 10k. The car parking postcode is incorrect, but the pre-race email flags this up and points you to a car park which is very limited in size. You need to get there early otherwise you’ll be parking outside the grounds.

Picking up my number was easy but it helps if you know your number in advance. I didn’t realise I needed to but they sorted me out quickly. There were about 10 toilets for hundreds, so pretty big queues but they moved quickly.

The compère on the day was great, really got everyone laughing and smiling, even in the rain!

The race, a two lap course through the country park, starts near the registration tents and heads downhill on tarmac before a left turn and a climb. After 500m it turns into a gravel track that weaves up into the woods. The track is muddy and gravelly and all under autumn leaves so can get a bit slippy. The climb is about 1.5 km before levelling out and carrying on for another km before emerging onto tarmac where there’s a dog-leg before 2km of fast downhill. At the bottom of the downhill section the track turns right to redo the loop again. The water station was handing out water cups at the start of the second loop. 

At the finish line I got a great looking medal and a bottle of water and managed to get to the massage tent too which was great. It was pouring with rain so there was a quick escape afterwards!

Great event for an important charity and despite the hills I’d love to do it again!



Posted on 15.11.17

Completed in 2017


Hills hills hills!

This race is in Cwmafan, about 3-4 miles north of Port Talbot. Fairly straightforward to get to and the postcode was spot on.

I’d registered online which was nice and easy and there were frequent emails with updates which was great. Parking on the day was fine since I got there an hour and a half before the start of the race but any later and it would have been a challenge.

I had to queue for about 10 mins to get my number, but despite my name being on the registration form my number couldn’t be found. I was given a new number fairly quickly and a really nice race day T-shirt as well. The race itself had to be delayed by half an hour because the queues for registration were so long and I’m sure this will be sorted next year. Considering it was really cold and I’d already put bags away in anticipation of the expected start time it wasn’t great. There were plenty of toilets for men in the clubhouse but there were some big queues for the ladies toilets.

The race itself is mainly on road until the final few km. It starts just outside the community centre and heads down the valley before turning back up after 500 m on a slight incline on an adjacent road to the start. From here it turns left on a climb into an estate before a set of really steep climbs up the side of the valley. It didn’t ease off for long before another climb, followed by a very steep downhill section back onto the main valley road.

After a km or so we passed under two viaducts, the second of which breaks your heart as you see the elite runners running across its top. To get up onto the viaduct there’s a steep hill, followed by a short stretch which doubles back on itself on which there’s a water station (at about 6-7km Mark).

The run across the viaduct is beautiful and gives you an amazing view of the area. Once you’re off it you go through a few small streets before a steady descent for the next 3 km. There’s an opportunity for a great sprint finish here and the crowd support throughout was really amazing (even the spectators handing out lager at the top of the first few climbs!). Once across the finish we got a Welshcake and a slate coaster with Richard Burton’s face and some text on it, which is different (but nice) and a bottle of water.

All in all a great race hampered a bit by the registration problems but should definitely be on everyone’s to do list. I’ll be back next year for sure

Posted on 06.11.17

Completed as a first timer in 2017


Beautiful venue

Run Ashton Court is organised by St Peter’s Hospice. There’s a standard entry fee and a request to either do some fundraising or donate a fixed amount in addition. Having signed up a few weeks before I gave a donation.

After signing up there was an email with directions and additional info, but don’t rely on the post code to get you to the car park, because it won’t! The postcode takes you to a gatehouse with no entry. From this incorrect gatehouse, head down the hill, take the first left and the entrance to Ashton Court is on your left. The car parking cost £1.30 which was fine.

This is a small race with 150 or so runners it doesn’t have a bag drop and only two portaloos (which surprisingly didn’t result in huge queues). 

The venue itself is in the grounds of Ashton Court and the start line is a few hundred metres from the main house. It’s a 5km loop too so you know what to expect on the second leg. The race starts on a short downhill section followed by a long climb to the top of the hill via a small stretch on tarmac and then a really beautiful woodland section. The climb through the woods is on a rocky and often muddy path that zigzags through the trees before a gently undulating section, quickly followed by another steep climb out on to the summit. Once youre on top there’s a short dogleg section followed by almost 2km of downhill before turning to make the climb through the woods again. There’s one water station and that’s found at the start of the second lap. 

At the finish line you get a bottle of water, a banana and a fairly basic medal, but considering all of the money from this event is going to charity it’s completely understandable (I prefer it to those from the Great Run series).

The local support was good considering it was out in the sticks and having a good friend there to support made it even better!

There were some safety issues to consider. The route is not closed off to other users, so you will get walkers, runners and cyclists on the same sections. I very nearly fell over a dog except for a last minute jump.

All in all it’s a decent event on a very scenic course with great views and i’d Happily run it again.


Posted on 30.10.17

Completed as a first timer in 2017


Great race with wonderful people

Having been peer pressured into signing up by fellow visorclub members (Ant...), this race and the tweetup didn’t disappoint.

Registration was easy and the race number appeared a week or so before the race.

I stayed the night before in the Hilton Garden Hotel, adjoining the Old Trafford Cricket ground, right on the finish line and surprisingly much cheaper than other nearby hotels (definitely staying here again for this race).

Pre-race there was a catch-up in the race village with lots of #ukrunchat and #visorclub people which was great, before we walked up to the start area for an even bigger meet-up! There were plenty of toilets around, but there could definitely have been more near the start line.

The race itself went quickly, mainly because of the great company I was running with. The course isn’t beautiful, but I didn’t expect it to be so nothing lost there. The course is very flat with only a few short inclines throughout and there are very few notable landmarks to be able to describe the course in detail. The final stretch to the finish line is a mental challenge because it’s visible from a fair distance. The support the whole way around was great, as was the marshalling. The only improvement I would suggest is that if water stations are only on one side of the road, make them longer because it was always a challenge to get water without falling over people.

The goody bag at the end isn’t amazing and I’ve had better at much smaller races. The medal is nice as was the snack bar. The t-shirt is very nice too.

The post race food and beer meet-up in one of the nearby pubs was much needed and kept he going during my night of post-race rocking in Manchester.

In summary, a great race made even better by the people I got to meet and run with. This race will always stick in my memory for all the right reasons!

I’d definitely do it again if race clashes permit!


Posted on 18.10.17

Completed in 2017


Wet wet wet!

This is the third time (I think, maybe 4) that I’ve done this race and I always enjoy the route. This year was a very wet one!

The pre-race material was helpful and clear and a slip for a free tshirt was provided. If you don’t remember your slip you won’t get a tshirt according to the pre race info. I’m not 100% sure why it has to be a slip system and can’t just be handed out to the finishers as they cross the line but maybe space is an issue.

This 10k is situated along Swansea Bay with the start line opposite St Helens cricket ground. It’s popular, so parking is a challenge but car parks are made available specifically for the event. We parked about a mile away and walked to the start line to avoid the queueing traffic.

There’s a small race village with some food stalls, tshirt pick up (don’t forget your tshirt slip or you’re unlikely to get one), bag drop and a podium for the winners to have some pictures on.

Although this race has been around for 30 years or so, the toilet queues are typically huge which is a shame. The portaloos hidden near the car park are normally okay though. The bag drop is also a bit of a shambles. My bag was put in a pile of others for our batch of race numbers but on collecting them they’d been moved and took about 5-10 minutes to find. Understandably the queues to pick bags up were huge as more finishers arrived. A couple of tables per section with odd on top and even underneath would help the bag team a lot I think.

The race itself starts by the cricket ground and makes its way past the original Swansea uni campus towards the mumbles on the main road. It’s generally flat with a few gentle uphill sections on the way. The 5k turn point is in the mumbles and a water station is just around the corner. The next 5k is largely along the beachfront on the cycle track and again Is flat. There’s a short sharp hill about 30m long between km 7 and 8 before a final km on the main road to the finish line.

The goodie bag was good! Some sweets, a banana and a lovely medal, so all good on that front!

Considering it was absolutely chucking it down with rain, the support was amazing! Thanks to everyone, especially the marshals who stayed out in the rain.

Being my home 10k I’ll always be back next year, but hopefully the bag drop and toilet situation be sorted out soon!


Posted on 30.09.17

Really enjoyable run

This was the first time for me to run this half and my first back from injury and it didn't disappoint!

The booking process was nice and straightforward and when I needed to check details the support was there over email too.

I arrived at the event at about 7am and parked in one of the designated car parks which cost a £3 donation to charity. The race village was really professional, lots of stalls and a really well organised bag drop - probably the best I've used. The toilets had relatively short queues too which was always welcome!

The race waves were well organised and it was nice to have Kelly Holmes speak on stage near the start line. The only bugbear was from the race start. It was a squeeze for the first 100m or so before opening out.

the course starts with a hill before what felt like almost continuous downhills for the next 5 miles. From then on there's a general flat or inclined route. The final 2-3k is a bit steeper than the rest with a painful hill at km 20, before a nice final 500m through the crowds in the park.

There were plenty of water stations on the course and although I always like to see at least one with some energy drink/gel it's never an issue if there isn't.

The support on the course is genuinely fantastic and really helps with motivation so thank you to everyone who did come out to cheer us on.

I was happy to see a lovely medal at the end and for the first race ever a snood!

what made the day even more special was getting to meet the #visorclub gang. Hopefully there'll be more opportunities to run with the gang again.

was it worth a 4am start and a drive from Bristol despite Bristol half being on the same day? Definitely!

Posted on 19.09.17

Completed in 2017


Do it for the beauty not the PB!

Booking the race

This was really straightforward to do, although once booked (or even on the main website) it could be made clearer that race numbers are on-the-day pick-up. Most small races are, but the reassurance is always appreciated!

Getting to the race

This race is in an absolutely beautiful part of South Wales easily reached off the M4 and finding somewhere to park didn't seem a problem (although I had a lift down with a friend this time, so I didn't have to think about it). It's held in Llantwit Major Rugby Club and registration is in the neary town hall (a gentle tip, don't call it a hut... oops). There's a train station nearby, so that is probably a sensible option as this race gets bigger. 

The race venue

I really liked the atmosphere at the race with music, food stalls and a bouncy castle for kids to play on. There were no problems with toilets with some to be found in the village hall, rugby club and public toilets on the road nearby. The start line is in an adjacent street and the finishing line is underneath the rugby posts on the field.  Sections of road had been closed off to allow us to race safely which was much appreciated. I didn't hear a pre-race briefing and only the start gun, which was a bit of a shock as I was near the front and facing the wrong way nattering when it went off :)

The race

First thing to point out is that it is predominantly a trail run with a few km on roads. The route starts with a fast downhill on road followed by a sharp steep uphill through the woods on a trail. It did get very congested here because it got so narrow, so we had a light jog through the woods and bushes. We did have to stop to queue to climb over a stile which was a bit of a shame, if only the adjacent gate could have been opened for us to run through. From here it was a run around the edge of a field with spectacular views over to Minehead and the North Devon coast, followed by a short wait at another stile, then more field boundaries and one long steep hill (that was horrible in the heat) that got congested so I lost some time slowing down there.

There were a few more kissing gates (no kissing observed) to run through (which will naturally slow you down) and a small fence to jump over (the only slightly unsafe bit, but it was so we didn't have to run though another gate so I underand why it was done and appreciate the gesture) before a really surprisingly tough double set of steps, taking you up, down, back up and down again before hitting the second of the water stations (the first one being just before the congested hill). My legs didn't really want to wok for the next 2km after the steps but the relatively flat farm tracks helped. Once off the farm track it was on to the road for the final 2km before a finish on the rugby field.

The most important bit of any race - the medal and goodie bag

The medal is very nice and bespoke which is a big plus in my eyes :) There was a bottle of water and a chocolate handed to me as I finished too which as very welcome conidering it was a bloody scorcher of a day.

All in all a well organised race, tough in the heat and could do with less points of congestion but such is life! The scenery makes up for everything.

Definite value for money!

Posted on 27.08.17

Completed as a first timer in 2017


Fast and relatively flat

This race is big for a 10k! The route goes from the city centre, out along the portway and back again via a different end route. 

Even though it was split into many waves there was a squeeze at the start so I couldn't really stretch my legs properly for abouk 1k. There are three inclines that stand out, one going up on to the flyover at the start 1k in, another around the 7k mark and a final one at about 9k. They're nothing serious if you enjoy a bit of a hill, but if you were expecting it to be completely flat then it could be a bit unpleasant.

The organisation is great although if you want to use the toilet beforehand i'd get in the queue at least 30 minutes before you're meant to assemble at the start line. It was probably the only thing that let it down.

Posted on 14.05.17

Running the tunnels!

This is a realy interesting course, starting on playing fields before heading down onto the cycle path which leads you through two tunnels. The first is about a quarter of a mile long and the second about a mile.

This was my second time running it, and I enjoyed as much as the first! The course gently rises for the first few kilometers before hitting the tunnels. Afterwards it's generally a gentle downhill until the 5k turn point.

It's not a pb course i don't think, with a pinch point near the start that slows many to a walk as people filter through and the cycle track isn't closed to the public for the day so you will ncounter many a cyclist and walker on your route, which can be a bit of a squeeze in the tunnels, but nevertheless i really like the course and i'll be back for sessions three and four later this year.

I mustn't forget the interlinking series medals too! I'm halfway to making a complete train from them this year :)




Posted on 14.05.17

Completed in 2017


Beautiful Scenery

I think it would be a challenge to beat this course for it's stunning location.

The race registration was really straightforward, no hastle and the race itself was cheap too which is a big bonus. The toilets were provided by the pub and thanks to the small field of runners there wasn't that big a queue. There's a car park opposite the start line but it's best to get there early because it will fill up very quickly.

It starts outside a pub under a railway bridge on the outskirts of Abergavenny and heads out into the nearby valley. This race is certainly not flat. There are numerous hills throughout with a particularly big one to start with. The route winds it way along country lanes and back along the same route, but care needs to be taken because they're not closed to the general public, cars or anything else that fancies driving up the narrow lanes. There's a water stop at the 5km mark too.

When you finish the race you get a neat little medal and some goodies and the pub is open for a cup of tea too. 

I think it would be a challenge to beat this course for it's stunning location. Running up a narrow valley dotted with hamlets and surrounded by mountains is a really nice experience and i'd definitely do it again. This was my first ever top 10 finish too so that made it even better!

Posted on 01.05.17