Monday, 23 October 2017

Stockport Hatter's Half Marathon

This was an interesting Half Marathon for both of us! James was once again attempting to break 1h 25mins whereas Rachel was hoping to complete her first Half Marathon.
Here's what we thought of the Stockport Hatter's Half...

race roundup hatters half marathon

Ahead of the day
The race was easy to sign up for online, it's not the best looking website but it does the job and gave plenty of information about what to expect on the day. A pre-race information email was sent out a few days before the event to keep everyone updated on how the day would proceed. It's worth mentioning that Rachel wasn't due to take part in this race and actually took someone's place two days before. Should you need to swap runner for whatever reason it was simple to do by just contacting the race organiser

stockport half marathon runner

On the day
The advertised carpark was easy to find and as we arrived still had ample room to fit a lot of cars in. We followed the car park attendants instructions and easily found the registration area. Inside there were signs up advising runners which desk to check in at (split into 4 groups of alphabetical surname), once we’d received our race numbers and chips there were plenty of pens around (for filing in the emergency details) as well as safety pins – something we know never to forget, just in case!
As the registration area for the run was inside Stockport County’s ground there were plenty of facilities available. The start of the course began just outside the registration area – it’s so much better when there isn’t an unnecessary amount of walking involved pre-race.
There were plenty of marshals and St John’s Ambulance staff all along the route but we found it a bit odd that there were no distance markers and no way pointers for a few sections where, if you’d separated from the pack, it would be easy to get a bit lost. There were also no additional chip gates besides the start and finish so if you want to know your splits you’ll need to be timing yourself on your own watch.

hatters half marathon finish line

Around 310 runners took part in the event with finish times ranging from a staggering 1:08:44 to 2:57:08 so no matter your level there would generally be runners around you to help spur you on. The start of the race began through a few Stockport streets where some locals had lined up to cheer on the runners, other than that there were marshals and St John’s Ambulance Staff staggered en route so very little in the way of a crowd to motivate you. 

hatters half marathon route map

The Course
The course begins at Stockport County’s grounds and starts off quite nicely downhill, at the beginning there are a few busy roads to cross, the traffic was being controlled by the marshals to avoid any runners having to stop. You then turn off the busy roads onto a quieter path that follows the river Mersey, the terrain is mostly footpath but switches to a quite narrow trail which was a little difficult to run along. You then need to cross another busy road (again marshalled) reaching Parrs Wood and the first of the water stations (around 5.25km). The terrain again from here is a mixture of footpath and trail, there’s also a particularly muddy patch before you reach the river again and reach the second water station )located pretty much halfway). You loop back here along the opposite side to the river, along a particularly sandy patch before re-joining the original path back towards the finish. The final 2km of the race contains the only significant hill work with a gradual hill at around 19.5km which turn up into a steeper section at around 20km before leveling back out for the final push to the finish. Overall a varied an interesting route with a wide difference in terrain, mostly off-road and well organised for the crossing of busy areas.

hatters half marathon finishers

The Goodie Bag
The goodie bag was perhaps the only real let down of the race. Upon reaching the finish line there is a station handing out bottled water and energy drinks, for your “goodie bag” however you need to head back to Stockpot County’s ground  (only about 5 minutes’ walk away). The Goodie Bag was actually an envelope containing the medal, a small pack of biscuits and an invitation to trade in your race number for a free ticket to a Stockport County football match. The medal is lovely and a nice quality, the biscuits were ok (we picked up bourbons and digestives, so a bit dry) but not really what you want straight after a race. The ticket is something we won’t be bothering with as we’d rather keep put numbers. We’d heard rumours that last year one of the sponsor’s (Robinson’s Brewery) had handed out free beer so we were a little disappointed this wasn’t the case this year.

Key Stats
Entry Fee: £18 affiliated/£20 standard
Atmosphere: 3.5
Organisation: 4
Course Difficulty: 3
Goodie Bag: 3

Overall: 3.5/5

Key Stats explained
Atmosphere rating (1-poor, 5-excellent) based on other runners, the crowd and general feeling of the event.
Race Organisation (1-poor, 5-excellent) based upon key information being communicated ahead of time, race information including number arriving in plenty of time, speed of response from organisers on requesting information, facilities available along the route and ease of starting the race. 
Course Difficulty (1-very easy, 5-extremely difficult) based on gradient of the route, running surface eg. Road or trail, obstacles along the route and ability to stay on the correct route through markers or marshals.
Goodie Bag (1-none available, 5-best goodie bag ever!) based on prizes given out post event such as medals and t-shirts.
Overall Score (1-Would not recommend, 5-would recommend to everyone) based on all factors above to give an overview of how good the event was. 

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