Welsh Ben

Bristol, United Kingdom, United Kingdom
Member since May 2017

My Completed Races

2017
Run Ashton Court
2017
Llantwit Major 10k
2017
Bristol 5k and 10k MoRun
2017
Admiral Swansea Bay 10k
2017
Bath Two Tunnels Railway Series 2

My Latest Reviews

Completed in 2017

4.6

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

4.3

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

4.6

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

4

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

4.4

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

4.7

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

4.6

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

4.8

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 as a first timer in 2017

4.5

Beautiful Scenery

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

Posted on 01.05.17