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Top Race Reviews of 2017

24-Jan-18

By Luke Jarmey

Race reviews are one of the most important aspects to RunUltra. Submitted by you, the community, they act as an incredibly valuable resource to prospective racers. Year on year we’re constantly astonished at the quality of reviews submitted.

It’s always an extremely difficult but deliciously delightful task choosing our favourites each month. But here they are, the top reviews of 2017.

January - UK

If there’s one thing we love more than a review bubbling with excitement and positivity, it is a well-balanced, critical but fair appraisal of a race. Particularly when it is as well written and detailed as Sarah Cooke’s (@SarahCrunning) review of the Country to Capital 45.

The positives about this race are: good organisation and pre-race communication, the opportunity to get a fast time, a very runnable route that would suit those new to the distance or to off-road running, a long-sleeved technical finishers' t-shirt.

The negatives: an uninspiring route, a general feeling that people were grinding out the towpath miles rather than enjoying the experience, confusion over the distance.’

February - Cambodia

Ryk Downes (@PunkPantherUM) paints an enticing picture of rural Cambodia in the format of a ‘Real-life Temple Run’. The second part of his review of the Ultra Trail Angkor is a jam-packed, information-heavy personal report, that’s a must read for any prospective Bayon Trail runners.

He also mentions that this race was a year to the day when he ‘died’, and was then revived by CPR and defibrillator, whilst out running. Awesome to read about people carrying on with what they love, even after experiences as serious as the aforementioned.

March - UK

Reading a quote from Douglas Adams’ The Hitch Hikers Guide to the Galaxy at the start of Daniel Stinton’s review, we knew we were in for a treat. However, this was just a preface to a beautifully crafted and thoroughly engaging account of his Wendover Woods 50 experience. Top stuff Daniel!

April - UK

This was the first time that we’d picked the same top reviewer two months running (pun partially intended). But reading Daniel Stinton’s humorous and fantastically written personal account of the Liverpool to Manchester Ultra.

How could we not? Particular highlights were the opening line: ‘I’m not a morning runner. I’m not even a moaning runner, but I do moan about mornings.’ And his second paragraph which is so brilliantly self-deprecating and on point, that it would be rude not to paste it in its entirety:

As is the norm with such races I’m standing in the middle of a field with a bunch of compression clad warriors decked from head-to-toe with the latest stretch fabric, multi-bottle, hydro-ultra-tech-lightweight rucksacks crammed with expensive waterproofs that no-one wants to actually use.’

Please do yourself a favour and give the rest of his review a read, it’ll be sure to make you grin.

May - Namibia

Titled ‘Emotions to the Limit’, Roberto Ferrari’s account of the 100km of Namib Desert, is a beautifully constructed and a well... emotional, retelling of the race’s previous edition.

The legs that move, the pulse that increases, the breath that is agitated ... those are sensations that we all have when running anywhere but in Namibia you will feel them before you start.’

‘A race with a force so brutal that even if you complete it walking, and I guarantee you will walk, you will keep it in the memory as a treasure.’

There are too many quotes, literally dripping with descriptive quality to list here. But if you like the sound of the above, go and give the full review a read, it’s a corker!

June - Spain

Seth Grotzke (@scquest)  delivers a brilliantly humorous and ever so slightly harrowing, account of his 101 KM Peregrinos experience. We love the ‘never give up’ mentality and Seth epitomises this, with some rather severe sounding stomach issues…

The 30 kilometre climb and final 20 kilometres can be summarized fairly quickly. Diarrhoea. Lying on the side of the trail trying to convince the passing runners that everything was fine, I normally look like this, and not to call the Red Cross.’

His designation of “friend” is up for review since he would not let me quit in the last two kilometres…what kind of a friend would do that!

July - UK

Richard Bridgewater (@Squidge2406 ) states that the Race To The Stones is one of the greatest things he’s ever done. Well, reading his review, we can practically feel his buzz for ourselves.

Not just an inspirational piece, Richard really delivers some gleaming gems of information that should help any prospective runner in next year’s edition. We particularly like his justification for the cost of the race:

Yes it is pricey at £109 but I still think it was value for money for two reasons 1) I signed up a year in advance so had forgotten how much it cost when I started 2) How I felt when I finished, genuinely priceless

August - UK

We really liked John Ryan’s (@ultraventure) glowing report of the North Downs Way 100. He details very clearly, why he liked the race so much (a lot of it has to do with the organisation!). But also provides some very useful tidbits of information for the prospective entrant.

Probably one of the most friendly races I have done and I think this has to be down to how Centurion run their races.’

September - USA

A really fantastic, detailed and humorous review of the Superior 100 Mile Trail Race from Seth Grotzke (@scquest). This almost reads as a Q&A with his therapist and is certainly one of the more unique race reviews we’ve received here at RunUltra.

Ran in 2015. I figure enough time has elapsed to add a review. My therapist says we have worked through enough of the suppressed memories from the race that I can begin to open up…a little.’

‘What do you get if you finish? I received a metal belt buckle, a customized sweatshirt, a finishers medal, and as many blisters as I could handle.’

October - UK

A relatively new race on the UK ultra circuit, The Limestone Way deserved a thorough review and Helen Pickford (@runpeaks) certainly delivered that. Starting off her report as an interesting tick box list of sorts, she quickly dives into a detailed analysis of the race route. An excellent review and a great sounding race.

It's a 'journey' rather than just a 'run route', point to point. I like 'journeys' rather than just 'run races'. Tick’

The route between Bonsall and the next checkpoint at Monyash was a plethora of sloppy fields, muddy trails, charming but sometimes tricky ascent and descents, and pleasant forestry trails.’

November - UK

A new ultra from Punk Panther and a fantastic review from Simon Bourke (@Simon_Bourke). We particularly like how he takes us through the course section by section, but keeps the review of Short Circuit interesting, without slipping into monotony.

After Esholt it’s up and through the adjoining Hollins Hall and Bradford golf courses. Is this what it’s like at an African watering hole – we’re all out for the same thing, (not water; but exercise / entertainment / participation) - we just look a little different and move at different speeds.

December - Italy

A brilliantly detailed review of the Italian Fregona Trail Fest from Pano Kotter. We particularly liked the insight into his training and fellow team members. The scoring breakdown at the end was also a nice touch.

This was the beginning of an extraordinary experience comprised of running; mental and physical uplifting; friendship.’

‘Fregona Trail Fest was a remarkable journey for those who were there; an extremely strong experience. For me it was an unusual physical as well as a mental experience of elevation, of a wonderful group I had the honour to train and guide towards a very challenging target.’

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