Cheltenham Circular Challenge

The Cheltenham Circular Challenge course, I've noticed, has had yet more kissing gates put in to replace a number of stiles since last year. Their 'on line entry' system at  is much slicker. What is it about Cheltenham and the Circular Challenge that attracts the ladies? It is still the Marathon which has the highest ratio of female to male finishers in the whole of the UK and Ireland, the next highest, last year, was the London Marathon. Their Half Marathon results also show a high proportion of female finishers. Could it be the views? Could it be the attraction of having a 'go as you please' system so that you can arrive, meet up with friends, have a chat, when you are all ready 'START' and you are timed from then? None of that 'mass start' rush? Some like it some don't, they seem to!  What do you think?


  • Well, I'm running this on the weekend, as my first marathon - what can I tell you - I like cross country, and I couldn't recover from injury soon enough for the Llanelli and Tenby ones! Looks like it could be a mud based carnage....!

    Anybody else running it?

  • Gavin, being local I asked some mates who do parts of the Cheltenham Circular Challenge course on a regular bases and they report that the organisers have been out again this year clearing the exceptional growth resulting from the recent rain and sunshine and it looks 'good to go'. They have been in training for Sunday's event.

    Gavin Bl comments that he has done the Cheltenham Circular Challenge twice before and is back for more this year. It must be good!

    There are some excellent reports and good ratings - the WI tea is also good.


  • I should have written that Compo 1 has done the Cheltenham Circular Challenge before!

  • thanks, I am hoping for reasonable weather - but planning to tough it out, either way!


  • I might do this one again, although the weather is putting me off a bitimage

    Any word from any locals on conditions under foot?  I don't think it will get any drier between now and Sunday!!

  • I hear you fell surfer, but this is my first, so I want to finish even if it takes all day and I have to swim parts of it!

    Any tips? Other than "find an easier course for your first marathon, you lemon!" of course
  • I think if you are attempting to run this and you are not familiar with the course the biggest problem will be navigation.  You could easily end up doing significantly more than 26.2 if you get lost a few times!  There are normally plenty of people to follow, particularly on the first half, but there aren't marshals to direct you so need to have a good idea where you are going (map or GPS).

    You should have a good time though, regardless of the weather image.  Hopefully it will be clear enough to enjoy some of the views on the first half.

  • Yeah the directions are pretty bewildering, maybe a later start, so I can follow the walkers
  • We have checked the Route this week and whilst it is muddy in places and at a couple spots we will be signing a small re-route, we believe it is OK. Obviously you will need to take care.

    The forecast for Sunday is  very reasonable and a very good number of people have already registered and we are now past our 2010 total.

    On line Registration is open until Miday Saturday. You can register on Sunday but the cost is £22 per adult.

    Do hope to see as many of you as possible on Sunday

    Clive O'Gorman

    Challenge Committee


  • Thanks for al the work that's been put in Clive, very much appreciated


  • Looking forward to it, just hope I don't get lost!!
  • Hope you have a good day. We will do our best with the signage and please to do forget to download the Route Guide from the web-site

  • Oh god, its round about now I wish I'd got to grips with GPS! I will throw myself on the mercy of the walkers....If I basically keep Cheltenham to my right, it should be ok in the end!!

  • Good plan Gavin! I have my trusty route guide at the ready if I can run and read at the same time. Good luck image
  • yes, you too Suzie. I might bring my wellies!

  • 1st for me, and I loved every minute. Of course the ground was challenging, as a walker with poles this was made easier though. I had fears re navigation, but no problems. The route was brilliantly marked all the way with bright yellow arrows, marshalls were jolly and encouraging, weather perfect, met some friendly people, so great for a solo walker. I'll be back again for sure. image Thanks for all the hard work and effort that went in to making this a really enjoyable day.

  • it was a great event, I think it was easier to get lost when running - the guide was so detailed it was hard to follow when puffing and panting. Got lost at 6 miles, and a couple of times other than that - the first half was gorgeous up on the scarp. At about 18 miles I was tucked in with a nice group of guys thinking I could do 4:40-50, but I twisted my ankle at 19 miles, and had to trot very gingerly from there - glad I toughed it out though, and came home in about 5:15. To add insult to injury I ended up carrying someones tired out Alsatian over the very last fence!

    Tea and victoria sponge at the WI tent was great. Lovely event, really nice friendly atmosphere - second half was right old trudge though. Mud mud and more mud!

  • Yes it was a fantastic event, I really enjoyed it (well except for the last 6 miles ... they were very hard).  I found the route very well marked, I only got a bit confused twice and luckily someone came past who knew the way so I could follow.  The first half was amazing, the views incredible and I got completely soaked coming down from Leckhampton Hill.  By 18 miles the mud got to me and I really started to struggle.  I saw my family at the last checkpoint which spurred me on but by mile 22 I was barely moving forward and hit the wall big style at mile 25.  That last muddy hill (incline but it felt like a hill!) was neverending.  Then suddenly there was the racecourse and I managed to trot home to a cup of tea and cake.  My Garmin said 5:25 but factoring in a couple of stops I think I was nearer 5:40.

    It was an amazing experience and despite the pain I will definitely do it again.  The route is brilliant, the organisation is very efficient and everyone was so friendly. 

  • Well done Suzie, miles and miles of churned up fields with a gate or stile ever 300 yards was a bit wearing wasn't it?!  That last wheat field was such a struggle!

  • Thanks Gavin, well done to you too. Your time is brilliant especially in those conditions and the detours you took.  Is your ankle okay now?  I can just about get down the stairs now without wincing!

  • Thanks, ankle purple and swollen (but not painful), surprisingly I feel 'ok' otherwise.
  • Thank you all for your comments. We believe it was a successful day for both Entrants and Organisers

    Well done to all the entrants 

  • Hi Clive

    Yes it was great fun, if tough in places, but hey - it was a marathon!

    Many thanks to all the good folks who gave up their time to organise and help out on the day

  • Hi,thinking of doing this as my first marathon. I have run a couple of half's. Is this really doable as a first full marathon and is it easy to navigate. I am a local (ish) girl so no the area pretty well. Thanks


  • Hi Vicky, the route is well marked so navigation shouldn't be a problem. It would be good as a first one because it is so laid back and lots of people walk it. Also as it is in stages you can be rescued and returned back to the racecourse if needs be. It's reassuring but also helps you along as you think, oh I'll just get to the next checkpoint...

    The downside is that it is off road so if it is wet it is very hard. The first half is very hilly and the second very flat. If you want a low key first marathon, with amazing views, good support and you don't really mind about the time, go for it! I am very tempted to do it again as it was an amazing experience.
  • It was my first marathon , so its definitely doable - assuming you do at least some off road running though. First.half is hilly but very scenic, second half was a grind through muddy fields for me, very churned up and loads.of gates and stiles. However, I think that in someways this made it less punishing over all

    It is informal and friendly, and generally well signposted. You can get lost though...I did! There's a map, but it is extremely detailed, and not really usable for runners. Also the terrain means it won't be fast.and the majority of people are walkers. If you don't start too early, they make useful signposts at least to halfway!

    If you are building up to a marathon, have some off road experience,want a friendly less competitive environment, I'd say go for it....I recommend tea and Victoria sponge from the WI at the end.
  • Thanks for the responses, I have done a reasonable amount of off road running and want something fairly informal where I won't feel to guilty if I walk for a bit. Not a great fan of hills but don't mind run walking them. Can you start at anytime or do you have to be there for 7am? Bit scared to enter as the longest distance I have done is a HM but I suppose the checkpoints are there if it got to much. Hopefully this year the weather might be better and therefore no so muddy. Vicky

  • Hi Vicky

    I started at about 9;15 - there's no set mass start time, though I think there is a limit to how late you start. Like I say, walkers need to start earlier, and provide a free guide along the first half of the trail. Obv, a little courtesy is required in passing groups of walkers.

    There are a few points where you have to walk, and a number where it is sensible to walk to save wearing yourself out on a hill, so.don't worry about that.

    I built up to 20-21 miles with a large hill early on for my last.couple of long training runs. On the day the lactic acid did bite at that stage, but you'll hang on!

    If you van do a HM now, u should it.

  • Thanks Gav, think I might take the plunge and enter.

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