I registered for this event back in April and paid £34.95 for the standard entry; there was also a VIP option which added a few extras such as a free race photo, post-run food and a VIP t-shirt. I decided to enter this event as the medal and t-shirt last year looked awesome and I ran the Birmingham half last year so wanted to complete a different event this time around.
My last event in Nottingham, my first ever 10k, was an event to remember for all of the wrong reasons… we were a bit late, we got absolutely soaked, the course was boring and the t-shirt and medal designs were not very imaginative. So needless to say I was a bit apprehensive about being back in Nottingham, especially with it being September.
We arrived at around 9:10am and parked on the Nottingham Forest Football stadium (it was one of two official car parks for the event). The car park was a 5 minute walk to the starting line, however as we were walking I decided that it may be best to use the toilet (I did go before we set off to Nottingham, but the hour plus car ride hadn’t helped, especially coupled with pre-race nerves!). It took us a while to find a toilet, the first one was out of service, so we had to find the event toilets; there were a lot of them, but also a lot of people queuing! I checked my watch and I had around 10 minutes before the race was due to start for the first wave; I was in the last wave (orange) and decided to stay in the line for the toilets. Luckily, I made it to my start pen for 9:25am and the race started promptly at 9:30am. It took just over 18 minutes for me to get across the starting line as there were over 12,000 runners registered for the half marathon.
The first half a mile was quite crowded and stopped me from setting off too fast. Eventually the road widened and the group spread out, allowing for overtaking and people to find their own pace range. I had heard that the course was quite hilly, however the hills still caught me by surprise as they were steeper than I expected. The one hill was steep, and when you reached the top it turned and there was another hill of a slightly higher gradient waiting for you. The course showed me that I definitely need to get some hill work in!
There was another steep climb at around the 6 mile mark, just after the water and Lucozade station in the deer park. This year, the water was not provided in bottles, but instead served in a pouch as a way of trying to reduce the amount of plastic bottles used, which is a good initiative, however a lot of people were struggling to drink and run with these as they are not as easy as the sports cap style bottles. I opted to just stick to Lucozade as I didn’t want to give myself stitch if I could help it or have to slow down to drink from the water pouch.
It was quite a scenic route, with some nice buildings and bridges along the way. There were quite a few people out on the street supporting, but the support wasn’t as good as the Birmingham Half Marathon. There were a couple of radios playing along the way, but only one live band near the beginning of the course that you passed again on the way to the finish.
I do prefer it when courses finish near the starting point as it makes meeting friends and family a lot easier, and is also easier in terms of logistics and knowing where to park. The finish line for the Robin Hood Half was near the start, however the last mile felt really long as you have to run through the start line again and I thought that was the finish line until a marshal advised me that the finish was around another half a mile to go! Mile 13 is then marked out on the grass finish and there is one final left turn for the last .1 mile.
There were official pacers for the following times:
- 1hr 20mins
- 1hr 25mins
- 1hr 30mins
- 1hr 35mins
- 1hr 40mins
- 1hr 45mins
- 1hr 50mins
- 1hr 55mins
- 2hrs 5mins
- 2hrs 10mins
- 2hrs 15mins
- 2hrs 20mins
- 2hrs 25mins
- 2hrs 30mins
Water was provided around every 3 miles.
There was also a Lucozade station.
There were a few on course entertainment sections, such as a choir at around the 0.2 mile mark, which you also pass again in the final mile. Music was also played through stereo systems at different parts of the course.
The atmosphere was good, but the crowd support lacked in a lot of areas. Most spectators were near the start / finish area rather than on the course. There was still enough support on the course overall, however it wasn’t quite as lively as the Great Birmingham Run.
This was a rather disappointing part of the race, especially considering the entry fee. The goodie bag contained the finisher’s t-shirt, a Yorkie bar and 14 sachets of pre-workout Beroccas. A bottle of water and Lucozade was also handed out at the finish line (I got a green bottle, thinking it would be apple but instead got Brazilian Guava… whatever that is!). If you were lucky enough there were also 38 golden tickets (one for each year that the half marathon has taken place) distributed in the finisher’s bags which grants a free entry into the 2019 half marathon.
T-shirt and Medal:
The t-shirt was a bit boring as it was white and not even a technical t-shirt, but instead just plain cotton. I dislike white t-shirts, so I may be biased, but for the price of entry, it should have been a polyester t-shirt in my opinion.
The medal was a really nice size with a lot of weight to it. It also has space on the back for an iTab (a small sticker with your name and finishing time which can be ordered for £6). I preferred last years deer head design though. I also wish the medal had the date on it, but that’s just personal preference. I really like the design on the back and the space for the iTab, although £6 is expensive for what you get.
Photos were available the day after the event. Digital downloads were £13.99 each or you can download the entire pack for £24.99 which contains every image of you from the event; the HD race video of you crossing the finishing line in two different angles was charged at £6.99.
Overall, the event was scenic and a course that I would recommend trying, however I don’t think that I would run it again unless it matched up perfectly date wise with my training schedule. The crowd support was good and there were ample aid stations. Some of the inclines were challenging, however there were also downhill sections. The t-shirt provided is just plain cotton and not a technical top, which is disappointing. The contents of the goodie bag were also a let down. This event usually takes place a couple of weeks before the Great Birmingham Run, and that event is far superior for around the same price (Birmingham is £9 cheaper if you also take part in the May 10k event).
This was a tough one to rate, however I decided to go with 4 stars. The course is worth running at least once as it is quite scenic and I enjoyed running through the deer park. It is a relatively big half marathon with over 12,000 runners.
You can view my results post here.