EVENT: ROBIN HOOD HALF MARATHON, NOTTINGHAM
Sunday 27th September 2015 (Start 9:30)
WHERE IS IT? Starts by the River Trent close to the cricket and Forest and County football grounds, leaves the city past the Castle, takes in both universities and Wollaton Park before returning to the river to finish.
WHAT’S IT LIKE?
This is a big event: as well as the Half there are other races, it’s a big field, and well-supported. The race village is large and has lots of catering and sponsors stalls and a substantial kit-tent by Sweatshop. The course is undulating with one major hill and shows the city off well.
It’s always this last weekend in September and more often than not is usually blessed with perfect autumn conditions, chilly to start but the Trent and parks looking glorious in the glittering sunshine.
HOW BIG IS IT?
Big. Over 7,000 people finished the Half this year, plus 1,200 in the full marathon and a mini-marathon for kids and families.
The race starts on the banks of the Trent at Victoria Embankment and after passing the station in the city centre turns at 1.5 miles to climb steeply up at the side of the Castle, and after a brief dip climbs steadily again for another mile until levelling out. After this you pass through the impressive Jubilee Campus of Nottingham Trent University before heading out past the ring road to Wollaton Park, with another climb (the park is beautiful at this time of year with huge golden trees just beginning to shed their leaves) and a chance to run on the grass at the side of the track if the throng of spectators leaves space.
Emerging from the park after 6 miles it’s back to the urban streets of Lenton before turning back out (and passing runners a couple of miles ahead of you already on their return) with a bit of a climb before dropping to run on gravel along the lakeside below the elegant buildings of the University of Nottingham. Exiting the park before 9 miles you are now passing the runners behind you heading out, back on a smooth long road to eventually pass below the Castle again for the run-in back to the Trent. Just before the final turn into the finish-stretch, the full-marathon people are directed off to the left to start their second half, and you wonder “maybe…. Maybe next year?”
ORGANISATION & FACILITIES
Excellent. You get good bulletins by email in the runup to the event, including training and preparation tips and encouragement if you are fundraising.
On the day there is a changing space (too small this year) and the baggage deposit is well-staffed and efficient. The start is colour-coded according to your predicted finish times. The start often doesn’t go off very quickly and there can be a spell of hanging around, most likely because people are still arriving. This is the only main glitch: the site itself is very large with lots of parking, but access roads to it is limited to the two main approaches so there is usually a big tail-back in the hour and more before the start.
There are plenty of toilets although as always there are queues in the half-hour before the start: one good thing here is that for the gents there is a pen of temporary urinals. More practically, with a short jog away from the crowds, there is also a huge river and a couple of rows of large trees to serve as a last-minute facility (and in recent years it’s become quite normal for ladies to have a discreet squat before lining up – and why shouldn’t they, too!)
Once on the course there are lots of marshalls, and plentiful drink stations – crushable water pouches with the tabs already pulled by the staff and just needing a firm squeeze to drink or dribble over your head – clever! And at the end there are lots of helpers giving out goody bags as well as medals.
Traffic jams aside, this is a very efficient event.
£33.75 for non-affiliated runners; £29.75 for club runners. Not cheap, but on the whole the scale of the event and facilities it’s not out of step with others these days.
This is good. A large heavy good-quality medal; and (for an additional payment, not included in the race fee) good quality tech tee in short or long sleeves.
MORE INFO & ENTRIES
http://robinhoodhalfmarathon.co.uk/ and @RobinHoodHalf
Disclaimer. I can’t really be truly objective about this one: it was my first Half, it’s my home town, and this year was my 20th appearance at the event (including two Full 26.2). Even so, for the scale of the event, the challenging and interesting course, and the overall quality of the event, I would definitely recommend it.
This year I had had a good summer and was very well-trained with long-runs in the last weeks up to 16, 18 miles. I paced it conservatively to 9 miles (averaging 8:20/mile and cruising the hills; at 6 miles I had a proper chat with my body, and we agreed that if I still felt good at 9, I could let myself run. So I did: two miles under 8:00mins, and the last two under 7:20. I finished quick, breathing easily through mile 12 at 7:19 min/mile pace, and still on my toes through 13 at 7:17 pace. This was a special run for me, and those last four miles were just pure joy.
And another nice touch was that after the hill at 2.5 miles, I heard a call and had a tap on my shoulder, and there was McBreezy who I had finished with last year: how lovely of her to pick me out and say hello!
The new course; the scale of the event – a big field but clear enough to run your own pace after the first mile.
There were some moans about the hills… but not from me, I run hills all the time where I live, so I love that change in the rhythm of the run.
Could be improved by
Nothing really: the carpark queues are a pain but there’s not a lot they can do about that, and this big space by the river is a perfect setting for the start/finish.