Forest of Dean Half-Marathon

For the last two years I've done the Hastings Half, and I love it. I got an email about the 2008 entry this week. Then, on the front page of Runnersworld, there's the news about the Bath Half, which kinda looks interesting. So I look at the date and find it's on the same day as the Hastings. I check others halfs on the same day and I find there are five.

Mmmmm. So do I stick with Hastings, or do I go for a different one?

Fleet costs £15, has an entry of around 3,200 and is rated 83%. The website is clear and helpful, though lacks pictures and is perhaps a bit dour. There is a quote from Runner's World: 

"One of spring's racing highlights, with top-notch organisation and a fast course"

You get a chip, it's a fast course, and it has been going since 1982, which makes it one of the oldest half marathons. The main complaints appear to be that the course is a bit dull, and that the start is crowded.

Forest of Dean costs £16, has an entry of around 1,500 and is the highest rated of the five at 88%. The website is clear and very helpful with pics and links to accomodation. You get a chip, and a beautiful course with some challenges. Not many complaints, though the start is crowded.

Hastings is an acknowledged classic. It is widely accepted to be the best half marathon. It costs £19, has an entry of around 5,000 and is rated 87%. The website is currently not opening for me, but I remember it as being useful, friendly and with some pics. The course is steady uphill for the first half, then downhill with a long flat finish along the sea-front. The crowd support is acknowledged to be the best outside of the London Marathon, and is one of the main attractions, along with an attractive course. You get a chip. Complaints are about the crowded start and finish.



  • Bath is the biggest with around 12,500 entries; the most expensive at £30.50 (what?!!), and the lowest rated at 74%. The website is professional and geared toward selling the event and raising money. There's already a forum open. It's a popular event, and complaints tend to be about the crowds (especially around water stations and baggage reclaim) which is inevitable from having that many people all running on the same road at the same time. However, many people praise the organisation. It's a flat, fast 2 lap course, and there's a chip. 

    Stafford is the smallest and cheapest - 1,450 runners paying £14 each who collectively rate it at 80%. The website is part of the local council website and is a bit sparse. The first race took place in 1984. The reports seem to indicate it's a fairly average half marathon with some good points and some bad points.

    I'm still not sure which one I will go for - but I don't think it'll be Stafford. Bath seems a bit expensive and crowded. Forest of Dean sounds attractive and cute, while Fleet has the history and some prestige from its association with the London Marathon. But Hastings still seems very attractive. Hmmmmm!

  • Oh, and don't forget the Hogweed Hilly Half either. Friendly, with local runners who don't like the big bill of Bath. I've raced the Hogweed Trot 10k three times now, and the organisation is brilliant.

    I have been a devotee of the Bath half, but I am now going to do either Forest of Dean or Hogweed. Why? Because it now costs more at Bath than at London Marathon.

  • Blisters: I'm totally with you on this.  Over £30 quid is getting silly for Bath.  I can do a tri for that kind of money.  Pondering about Forest of Dean myself.
  • The Hogweed Hilly is the following weekend, so it's possible to do both.

    This Forest of Dean is tempting. Would make a nice weekend break.

    Hastings does have a beer festival nearby on the same weekend, which is a bonus. Is there a beer festival near the Forest of Dean that weekend? That could be the decider for me. 

  • I'm also pondering about Reading half next year.  My mate LOVES that race.
  • I'm going for this one, Bath too expensive and Hastings and Fleet too far away for me.

    Nam- did Reading last year, good atmosphere and crowd but very unscenic course but brillaint finish in Reading FC's ground (but is that because I'm a footie fan?!) I personally think it's a race that has to be done once.

  • This is a possible for me - but it might be Rhayder 20 instead.

  • Wilde Rover isn't Rhayder the hilly one? If I get into London I'll probably do Bramley and Gloucester 20, liked both of those.

  • Yeah, Rhayader is hilly - but at least it is a bit more motivating than a 20 mile solo plod.

     Rhayader & San Domenico 20 might be the plan - followed by the Shakespeare if I'm not doing FLM.  (Might depend on when San Domenico is)

  • Whats this one like then? Hilly? Looking for a half in early part of next year (this is a bit later than I would like - I like the cold)image

    Any ideas?

  • Hi LR. I don't think I would describe it as particularly hilly, but with inclines and a few bumps (but then I am a Chepstow Harrier and used to bug hills!)

    It's lovely to run off road, on decent footpaths.

  • Oh yes, there are bound to be plenty of bugs in the hills, due to the trees, you know.
  • LOL- I did mean big, but you are right blisters, there probably will be plenty of bugs in those trees!!

  •   Off road on footpaths - so no mud then (shame). Inclines and bumps sounds ok - may give it a go.
  • LR- you might come across the odd muddy puddle you could splash through though!

  • Forest of Dean Bumps???

     Yes Zoom you definitely come from Chepstow if you call those hills bumps!

  • Chepstow is one big bug*** of a hill!
  • Are you trying to put me off ?- I don't mind hills really as long as they don't go on forever (more than a mile say - or maybe less)
  • Zoom - I note you have done Wyre Forest - please tell me its not that bad!!
  • LR- FOD is a walk in the park compared to Wyre forest, that was one tough nice!
  • Phew! I feel better now - I still have demons from that race (and a mild fear of forests)
  • LR- did you do Wyre forest this year?
  • zoom-two years ago, and I am still suffering.

  • You should have done it this year, it was sweltering! I'd even say Wyre was harder than Pembrokeshire half, which I did last weekend.
  • I think I will do Wyre again though, but just hope that the temperature is a bit cooler.

  • rather you than me - I'll stick to the WF8 in feb/march, it might be muddier, but a least its not too hot.
  • I loved this 2 years ago as my first  half and encouraged my husband to do it last year as his first half.... I 'm comong back to try and get a PB at this one as I loved it
  • Have entered this race as a prelude to the Shakespeare marathon. From what I've read this half marathon sounds those in the know what are your opinions on this course?????? Did Bath last year for the same reasons and loved it but the price is far too much and love running off road, thus this is the obvious one to run..................
  • i quite fancy this one - but it would be my first trail race. it says on the info page that normal running shoes are ok - what do you veterans of FOD run in? would trail shoes be a good option or normal trainers ok? really fancy it......thanks, plum
  • The course is mostly on very good cycle tracks so normal running shoes are fine.

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