In short: Wasted Opportunities In full: Having moved from Tunbridge Wells to Berkhamsted recently, I was looking forward to my new "Home" race. Unfortunately, I think I was spoilt by the TW Half (also a Rotary Club event) as Berkhamstead couldn't live up to it.
I enjoyed the race and will do it again as it is local but think it could benefit from some bigger thinking eg.
i) T-shirts in Goody Bag- these can be charged for on entry, give everyone a souvenir of the day, promote next years race and raise more money for charity.
ii) Improved medal - disappointed with generic "school sports day" medal.
iii) More road closures along the course.
iv) £21 entry and a goody bag consisting of a bottle of water, a cereal bar, a banana and a gel doesn't fly. £24 entry in Tunbridge Wells gets you double that plus a t shirt presented by Kelly Holmes.
I don't want to sound over critical but it just seemed that the organisers were doing what they have done for the past 30 years whereas everyone (including the charities)would benefit more from some bigger thinking. Date of review: March 3, 2014
In short: Great race on a challenging course, with brilliant organisation In full: Second time running this race. Loved it first time round and was worried that it might not live up to expectations second time round. I was wrong.
Hassle free pre-race, with close parking, very efficient bag drop and use of the sports hall to stay warm before heading out. Plenty of portaloos, with marshals helping to ensure the queue moved along almost at walking pace.
No messing around at the start, just a couple of announcements and off you go.
Course is a mix of town and country. Miles 3-5 feel mostly downhill, while miles 6-8 most definitely uphill. No escaping the fact that Spring Hill is very steep and very long for a road race, but it's part of what makes this race memorable.
Great support all around the course, including a few bands, and a terrific chunky medal at the end. Decent long sleeve top as well.
If you had to criticise then maybe water in bottles would be better than in cups, and the goody bag was just a couple of flyers for the race sponsors but honestly, these negatives are completely outweighed by how good everything else is.
All-in-all a fantastic race, and would recommend to anyone. Date of review: March 3, 2014
In short: The race was great, pity about afterwards. In full: The weather in the morning set a great start. The line for the shuttle bus was really long but it moved pretty fast and we got to the stadium in reasonable time. The toilet queues were all pretty short and we were able to drop our bags off with no trouble. The walk to the start was fine and our pen was well managed only letting in people with red race numbers. Not sure why we started five minutes late, but telling us this when we're expecting to start meant we had warmed up too early and had to mentally prepare all over again.
Actual race was great. I found the course really enjoyable. The crowd was great. The music was fantastic. I loved the stadium finish (despite having no energy left). And only one small bottleneck. And great medal.
Then it all went wrong. I picked up my bag from the women's tent without any queue then lined up with my boyf for 45 mins waiting for his bag. In all my ten years of running races (including larger races) I have never been in a longer bag check line. And then it got worse... We lined up for the bus back to the stadium without actually knowing if it was the correct line (as there was no one around to ask or any signs). The line never seemed to end and what was most frustrating is having no idea how much longer it would take. It was getting very cold and we had been on our feet for over three hours already. When we finally got on a bus (after about one hour) I could not believe that they did not full the buses up. All seats were filled up but there was so much standing space. I am sure the people behind me would have rather got on and stood rather than continue to wait in the cold.
Great race but failed miserably post-race and so unfortunately I won't be coming back. Date of review: March 3, 2014
In short: One of the highlights of my year In full: Oh dear that hill is doesn't get any easier, in fact it was harder this time round as there was a bit of a brisk breeze around the course. Marshalls excellent again and the organisation was superb. Will definitely do it again but did it have to start at 9am!! Sorry for the gripe but it was way too early. Date of review: March 3, 2014
In short: Brilliant organisation and an interesting route In full: This is a brilliantly organised race which is very well-supported all the way round the course. The route is challenging due to the hills, but the pacers are excellent and are friendly and encouraging the whole way. Date of review: March 3, 2014
In short: Slick, well organised with challenging hills In full: Very professional set up from start to finish. Pacers managed to bag me a PB so very pleased. Well done TW Harriers. Date of review: March 3, 2014
In short: Mudfest don't wear a vest ! In full: Wonderful tough boggy slippy marathon, scenary amazing but this event is tough, why make things easy, life is always a challenge and looking back although I didn't smile for 25 miles , finishing felt brilliant and rewarding. Organisation was very very good. Date of review: March 3, 2014
In short: Good Marshalling. The weather made it a very hard run. In full: Great marshals - thank you. No problems on the day. Could have done with directions to the free parking area as did not know the area. The very steep hills between miles 2 and 4 will put me off doing this race again. Also lacked atmosphere but then the wind did not help this. Sort of race you would do once and once only unless this is your local race, having said that on a nicer day running by the sea front would have been a pleasant experience on a calmer day! Date of review: March 3, 2014
In short: Good if you like dodgy and weaving In full: My issues with this race in order of annoyance 1) Spent the first four miles dodgy and weaving among slower runners, killing any hope of a decent time; 2) roadblocks and diversions meant it was impossible to find anywhere to park, no clue what to do beforehand except dump the car miles from the start and run in 3) race itself was basically through 60s suburbs and industrial estates 4) queue for bags after race. Crowds were awesome tho, and if weather had been better I might have had a better day, but not sure I'll return. I honestly don't think the course is really set up for a 11,000 person race. Date of review: March 2, 2014
In short: Good starters, fantastic main course, shocking dessert In full: Most of the other reviews say it all. This should be a great race (a PB for me!). The people of Reading around the majority of the course were brilliant - samba bands, jelly babies and even a pub giving out free beers. However, with all their experience, I would have hoped the organisers might have cracked how to get people's baggage back to them without the endless queues in sweaty running clothes, standing in the driving wind and rain. And some better signage for the shuttle buses and prepaid car parks might have made the whole experience less stressful for runners and spectators alike. Date of review: March 2, 2014
In short: Mixed experience In full: Getting to the Mad Stad from the railway station was slick and easy. The queue, which looked liked a real monster and stretched for a couple of blocks, moved v quickly.
Once there, I was in the orange zone (2.15 finisher) and it felt as though we were waiting for ever. People were dashing in and out of the railings for a pee (myself included) which didn't make for a smooth or relaxed start. When I went into the Orange Zone, I didn't need the loo, but after 15 minutes, began to feel as though I did. If we could have set off after five minutes rather than 15+ minutes, I doubt this would've been an issue.
There was a DJ from Heart who was well-intentioned and supposed to be livening us up / providing a distraction and some atmosphere, but honestly! She was loud, shouting and grating. I wished I had a mute button. It really made the long wait even more uncomfortable.
Once off, everything smooth and great crowds, but a tight turn through the gate, towards Forbury Gdns / the Magistrates Court. The finish into the Mad Stad was uplifting and memorable.
Didn't suffer from baggage collection as the ladies' seemed well organised but really felt for the men waiting in massive queues. It was soooo slow and by this point, very cold.
Signs for the shuttle bus could have been clearer. We set off to walk but got very very cold and managed to board one after it had set off. Glad we did, as boyf hadn't taken a foil blanket (lack of experience), didn't have another layer and looked as though hypothermia was setting in!
So, the race was great, the women's bag drop was great, transport to the stadium was great, but men's baggage and transport back needed to be improved.
In short: nice eclectic course, great local support In full: glad I did this one. Didn't like going up the hill but going down it and right onto the seafront was great. Round the harbour was good too - big shout out also for the musicians along the route. Date of review: March 2, 2014
In short: Enjoyable, atmospheric race In full: Fortunate to be close to the front at the start, but organisers can't be held responsible if runners predict unrealistic finishing times! Baggage retrieval could have been improved post race with one huge queue for 1-1500 with all the other folk behind the tables twitching their thumbs! Good course & fantastic support. First time I've said this of a race, but my Garmin has the distance at 13.25 & I know that I wasn't alone. Being just outside the top 100 I had a pretty good racing line. Having said that, thanks to all involved in todays race. Look forward to returning next year :-) Date of review: March 2, 2014
In short: Great PB potential and great atmosphere In full: Really flat race, few corners, cracking atmosphere and great potential for a PB. Maybe recommend the event organisers don't have the bag drop all the way down near Concorde 2 though Date of review: March 2, 2014
In short: Hit & miss - odd route but brilliant locals! In full: The hill isn't THAT bad, for people looking for PB's however - forget about it! The worse part is wiggling around the harbour town where I was trying to figure out where to go, saw a couple of guys flapping there arms looking for someone to shout directions but other than that it's ok. Plenty of steel drum bands and enthusiastic locals to keep your energy levels high though. Date of review: March 2, 2014
In short: Be prepared In full: Yes it's tough but if I was fully got the hill wouldn't have killed me like It did. Organisation was very good, some of the Marshall's were exceptional, I really felt for those looking after the road junctions at mile 12, you can only tell unreasonable drivers so much and when one inched out at me I shouted and immediately got an apology from the Marshall, respect re that..
The first five miles bar a couple of bumps are pleasant but the sting is between 6 and 8, if you were undercooked like me then pain ensued quickly.. All the same just when you needed a pick up we either ran past a packed pub car park or a band.. The band and choir in t wells were great.. Just what I needed
All in all a great race, will I be back, yes if it fits and hopefully next time I won't have ran three miles before it starts due to marathon training! Date of review: March 2, 2014