In full: My friend and I ran this year's Oxford Half Marathon. She lives in Oxford and told me of the problems that the organisers were having with the Council and the local AA group - taking this on board I think we should all be lucky that the race ever got going! Yes they had some problems with traffic getting into the Stadium, but I think that was mainly because people left it too late; we arrived at 8:30am for a 9:30am start and parked no problem!
I have read some comments where people have tried to compare the Oxford Half to others such as Reading, Bristol and Bath - how many years have they been going for?!!! this was the first time for Oxford and they did a great job; my brother ran the Bristol Half several times in the 90's and the race was always a fiasco with late starting and lack of times, and Reading was not much better up until recent years! I have also raced at Bath before and experienced far worse problems.
I think the Oxford course could have been better and I understand this will change for next year, having read on this forum that the race did not get the go-ahead until 3-4 months before the date it was excellent. The Stadium finish was superb and we found everyone to be friendly and supportive, the medal we received at the end was brilliant and unique; it was also great to see Liz Yelling on the Start line who also spoke to us afterwards and seems very nice. Yes, the route could have been flatter and more scenic, but this is Oxford and you're not going to see galloping Wildebeast and Water Buffalo in Oxford!! Full credit to the event, and if a couple of minor teething troubles are overcome next year this has the making of being a truly great event - we will be back for 2012 certainly. Date of review: November 20, 2011
In short: Needs to be a change of route for next year or I will give it a miss In full: Getting into the car parks was a joke when you have to sit in traffic for 45mins passing lots of closed off car parks to find a dummy with a vest on using his phone???? shouldnt he be directing cars. The first few miles of this event are the most dull I have ever done, up hill next to a by-pass? Good medal and Race Time Systems high quality results but not the best event. Date of review: November 10, 2011
In short: first year race, loved the stadium finish, will be back! In full: It was my 4th Half Marathon and had family in Oxford to support me all the way. Looked at previous comments and my sister did say that the event was only launched in June of the same year so I think the organisers did well to stage the event in the first place, as she said they did have a lot of hurdles to overcome.
The car parking needs to be addressed, as there was a slight delay to start the race, but going through the Mini plant was a nice touch, and it was brilliant running into Oxford city centre and passing Iffley Road, which I was told is where Roger Bannister broke the mile record.
Course was a little congested with spectators and runners, but looking at facebook they have said that it will be a new course, with more road closures next year. Mind you the spectators were brilliant on the course, somebody gave me jelly babies and what I loved about this race was the stadium finish and the noise, it was a great atmosphere at the finish.
Also,I was so pleased to have a free bra, from the Moving Comfort stand in the athletes village.
Very good standard medal, although maybe a little more could have been made of the goody bag. Big plus for me was the great changing and showering facilites.
Overall, a really good first attempt, maybe more road closures needed to keep the specatatoes off the road, but please please keep the stadium finish at this made the race.
Will definately be entering next year, if they go ahead Date of review: November 10, 2011
In short: Sad to say I was disappointed... In full: I was really looking forward to this half marathon - the website made it sound like a flat and scenic route, and having done Reading half (and loved the atmosphere at the end) I was excited at the prospect of a stadium finish again. How wrong I was.
The start was delayed significantly, I think due to problems with baggage storage and road closures,and when the race did get under way there wasn't the atmosphere and excitement I would have expected for a first time race. The route itself I found boring if I'm honest, and I hate to say that because I love Oxford and think it has some stunning scenery. A lot of it seemed to go along by-passes and through underpasses (very cramped down there!!) When we did reach a very pretty bit of Oxford runners were forced to run along the pavement along with members of the public - I felt this to be not only quite frankly annoying, but also dangerous. At other points the traffic control was chaotic to say the least and when running past the lines of cars I got countless glares from the drivers. After a particularly depressing last couple of miles the stadium finish was underwhelming, and although I got a nice medal I was extremely disappointed with the goody bag considering how much I paid to enter. It contained a few leaflets for running events, a plastic bottle and an energy gel.
I know it is a first time event and there are bound to be a few teething problems - but I really didn't enjoy the route, I wouldn't have described it as flat or scenic and the whole event lacked any atmosphere. Won't be doing again - sorry. Date of review: October 11, 2011
In short: Very poor race with far too many problems In full: I entered the Oxford half late, after not being able to run in the Bristol half two weeks earlier. I was hoping for a PB, but the course was not flat, the conditions were not favourable and the organisational failings were too distracting.
Getting into the car-park was terrible - this is a football stadium for goodness sake. How on earth can they cope on match day and not on race day? Having managed to get to the stadium I was then faced with marshals who had no idea where the changing facilities were, where the bag drop was, etc, etc and finally found the bag-drop (which was a £1 per item cloakroom) with a queue that I stood in for 20 minutes. With about 5 minutes to race time I asked the race director if there was going to be a delayed start and when he confirmed there would be, I suggested it might be a good idea if he announced that to the 100 or so people still trying to drop their bags.
The start of the race was OK but the course was disappointing. Obviously the fact it was warm and a bit windy is not the fault of the organisers, but it was billed as a flat race and it was definitely not flat. Much of the course was through desolate factories, through under-passes and along boring dual carriage ways until we hit the town, where a 30cm wide path had been created between the curb and a line of cones... which was full of pedestrians and cyclists. Really, it looked as though no one knew or cared that there was a race on and I, along with the runners I could see in front of me, ended up in the traffic because the 'path' for the runners was too narrow and presented too much of a trip hazard. This was made much worse by marshals who seemed to have no idea that those aiming for fast times need a bit of warning when a turn (another bloody turn!) is coming up.
I think that Oxford is the kind of city that should have a half marathon. But the organisers really need to up their game if they want to attract runners and grow the event. For goodness sake spend a bit of time looking at the Reading half or the Bristol half to see how it should be done. Date of review: October 4, 2011
In short: good event but organisation needs improving In full: This event has potential and i expected a few teething problems, nice flat course which was well supported in places. But organisers need to improve parking and organsiation at the start, better road closures would help especially in city centre, goody bay was disappointing. Date of review: October 1, 2011
In short: Not bad for first attempt, lots of lessons to learn!! In full: Was really looking forward to this race, being the first in my home town. Great website with lots of information. Slightly annoyed by our race packs being sent in a large envelope with insufficient postage (2nd class stamp!). Meant having to make a special trip to town's postoffice and also pay Royal Mail the handling charge. I e-mailed the organisers but nothing back.
Anyway, the race itself....
Arrived in plenty of time (avoiding A34) and found parking/organisation OK. As the clock was ticking it became apparant that lots of cars were stuck in traffic and hence a delay to the start, despite them saying when we arrived it would start prompt due to road closures.
The late start was OK but then we had to contend with cars in the first few miles which is never good.
Route itself could have made more of Oxford's lovely scenery.
Water stations were good.
Marshalling was on the whole good with only a couple of times having to ask which way I go.
Would have been much better if teh roads were closed longer, nearer the town centre it was impossible to run on the path.
Last 3 miles was very hard being mostly uphill.
Disappointed with no T-Shirt, particularly as it's the first race. And also the goody bag was hardly goody - no chocolate!!
Enjoyed the finish in the stadium.
Crowd support was great.
Would I do it again? I don't think so.... Date of review: September 30, 2011