Helen Pickering

Birmingham, United Kingdom
Member since Aug 2017

My Completed Races

Great Midlands Fun Run
Run For Fun Solihull Half Marathon
Bath Half Marathon
Great North Run
Cancer Research UK London Winter Run

My Latest Reviews

Completed as a first timer in 2018


Hilly but fun

Great Midlands Fun Run

This is definitely a fun run rather than a serious race, attested to by the number of people walking or wearing costumes. Try to stay near the front of you don't want to be dodging people all the way around, and read the race pack properly so you don't do what I did and shortly start in the junior section!

It's a hilly course so be prepared for that. Great crowd support around much of the course and some friendly locals with house and water pistols in case you get too hot!

The section through the park is lovely and one you exit the park isit all downhill or flat, including a nice long downhill finish. In the hot weather this year, I was glad of the water stainsst. I think there were four with water provided in cups. That does rather force you to either stop or get half the water down yourself - it was got so I went with the latter!

On completion you get a medal and a cup of water but that's it.

Posted on 05.06.18

Completed as a first timer in 2018


Great local run

 Run For Fun Solihull Half Marathon

Having missed the first run last year I was keen to race it this year.

I was one of the first to register for a good value early bird price of £20, some four months before the race.

One early slight issue was the lack of information about the route. The website only had a low-res image which couldn't be zoomed in. 

On arrival we were signposted to ample car parking in one of the offices in Blythe Valley Business Park. There were about 8 portaloos which did lead to a bit of a queue - more would be better next year.

The start was in an office car park which was a little odd, before a short loop around some of the Business Park and on to the local roads. There were rolling roadblocks to stop traffic for the first few miles then we just had to stick to the left. These are country roads really and were pretty quiet so this seemed to work well.

Support was limited but quite enthusiastic. 

There were about 550 odd runners which was a nice number for my taste. 

At the finish we were handed our medals, a Twix, water and a banana.

Posted on 08.04.18

Well organised but expensive

I was happy to pay the expensive entry fee (£37 for a 10k is well over the norm) because I assumed that money went to Cancer Research, but other reviewers here have said it doesn't.

The bag drop was a dream, once I had realised that the letters above each section weren't particularly relevant. I think they were just intended to help you remember which desk you'd gone to, but I wondered at first if you were supposed to go to the letter your surname started with. Fortunately there were volunteers and some small signs directing runners to use any. The volunteers were really efficient both at the start and end - each took only about a minute. 

There were also loads of toilets which is a big plus - again, I only had to wait about a minute.

I was in the second wave and starting was also handled very efficiently - so much so that I think my wave actually started early. The 'snow blast off' they advertised was nice enough but nothing to write home about. Despite arranging runners into waves based on predicted finish time (very necessary with 20,000 runners) there was still a fair bit of dodging around slower runners, including some who were walking week within the first kilometre. That's fine, of course, but it made me wonder if they'd ignored their wave allocation. Nobody seemed to be checking, though they had expressly said which wave was starting over the PA system.

The route was decent, flat and fast and taking in many central London landmarks. At various points there was musical accompany from choirs, drummers and a PA system blasting music alongside volunteers dressed as huskies and penguins, offering high fives and hugs.

The water station at 5k was great, very long with loads of volunteers holding out opened bottles, and more volunteers picking up discarded bottles. 

In fact, there were lots of volunteers full stop. Surprisingly given the location, there was less support than I expected. The start and end were busy with crowds, but not the rest, though I imagine it picks up later in the morning.

The organisers had encountered a problem with their medal order when it got stuck in customs. They weren't sure if it would be released in time so they hastily commissioned a back-up which was awarded to runners in the day. Apparently the originals will be posted on to us. I really appreciate this as it's obviously best to get a medal as soon as you finish. The replacement medal was also really nice, it wasn't some cheap stop-gap.

There's no goodie bag which is a bit weird, you just get handed things individually as you finish. There was coconut water, normal water, a protein bar, and malt loaf.

Overall this is a good event. Bear in mind that though it's fast and flat, it's the kind of run that attracts a lot of new and fun runners, so if you're a serious runner or looking for a PB it may not be ideal.

I would consider doing it again but I like to do different races so most likely my next event in London would be the London 10,000.

Posted on 04.02.18

Completed as a first timer in 2017


Enjoyable 10 mile race

Derby 10 Mile

I thought this was really well-organised. It starts and ends at the Derby County football stadium, with the event village inside the stadium concourse, so protected from the weather. Plenty of toilets and it was easy to collect race packs and hand in baggage. The only downside was that it was impossible to hear the loudspeaker announcements unless you were stood right next to them, which meant most people missed the start of the Rememberance Sunday minutes' silence. Runners were divided into start pens based on predicted finish time.

The course is mostly along a river path and through a country park which is nice; there are short sections alongside roads though. Drinks stations at 4 and 8 miles, plenty of marshals and attendance in several spots of St John's Ambulance volunteers. There was reasonable crowd support I would say though not as much as if we'd been running in the city centre, of course.

The first and last two miles were essentially the same but in reverse, and I enjoyed the initial and final run round the exterior of the stadium. There was a rock choir singing us in but I think they went on break when I got there!

Back in the concourse, volunteers have out the goodie bag a bit at a time, which was a little odd as you had to carry it all in your hands. There was water, a banana, fluorescent green technical t-shirt (unisex design only sadly, and with massive sponsor details on the back, but otherwise a nice design, decent medal with the event and date, buff with sponsor details, and a gel.

I would run this event again.

Posted on 12.11.17

Really enjoyed this event

Robin Hood Marathon & Half Marathon

A great event for my second half marathon. A well-organised, mass participation event. It took 14 minutes after the front runners for my wave to be allowed to cross the start line, which was a little tiresome but better than a massive crush at the start.

The are some hills in the first few miles, but some nice downhills too where you can pick up some pace. My favourite section was going through a big country park at Wollaston Hall, though you don't run through it for long.

There was lots of local support - the purple-clothed Notts Women Runners were out in force to cheer on their members and everyone else. Plenty of people giving out sweets to the runners which was nice, as well as people playing music to keep us motivated. 

There were four water stations (at 3, 6, 9, and 12 miles) and all but the first also had Lucozade Sport bottles. The water was in an odd squeezable pouch which took me a while to figure out. 

Loads of crowd support in the race village along the final run to the finish line, then we were given a nice grey cotton t-shirt (unisex sizes), cracking medal, water, more Lucozade, an Alpen bar and a Boost bar. Then back to the car which had been parked for a fiver in the Council car park over the river, opposite Trent Bridge - a five minute walk away.

Posted on 25.09.17

Completed as a first timer in 2017


Good fun

Iron Run - July

I really enjoyed the event and thought it was good value for money. Great use of natural terrain (expect lots of going up and down hills) and some obstacles I haven't encountered elsewhere. 

You get a medal and a t-shirt which is good. Both are decent quality but the design (under the new brand name 'Uventure') is very uninspiring.

Toilets and hosepipe type showers provided but apparently the showers ran out of water. 

Registration and bag check was fast and the warm up was decent. I'd have liked to see more marshals, there were some obstacles without a marshal when there probably should have been one.

Posted on 07.08.17

Completed as a first timer in 2017


Good but a bit expensive

Great Birmingham 10k

A decent race. Good to get to run through parts of the city centre including past Selfridge's. Then you head out through some industrial areas and out to Edgbaston, a very short section through Cannon Hill Park and around the cricket ground then back to the city centre. 

Lots of local support, especially in the city centre, and plenty of music which was nice. Pretty flat. You get a decent goodie bag with a nice t-shirt and medal, but it is a little expensive.




Posted on 07.08.17

Completed in 2017


Great value trail run

Cannock Chase 10k

First timer this year and I really enjoyed it. A nice run along the gravel trails of Cannock Chase. Well signed with plenty of marshals. Nice to have our names on our race numbers which made it easier for other people on the Chase to cheer us along! It's a hilly course so be prepared.

The event was well-organised, though I think they could have done with a few more toilets at the start. I had to wait 15 minutes due to the length of the queue - yes, I should have got there earlier but even so. This meant I ended up starting near the back which meant some dodging around slower runners - again, my own fault. However there is a section near the start where you have to go single file up a hill, which for those of us at the back meant a wait then walking behind other runners. Perhaps the organisers could consider sending groups off at the start - say 30 at a time or something, which might help alleviate this problem. It is more difficult to organise but the event is chip timed so it shouldn't present any difficulties with the results. 

You can park for free at the start, there's a great medal and a decent goodie bag (medal, mini bag of Haribo, Cadbury's Fudge bar, and a squeeze pack of almond butter), plus a banana and water at the end. Given all that I'd say it's great value for money.





Posted on 06.08.17