In short: The race has the potential to be brilliant, but the organisers have their priorities all wrong. Runners' interests are barely considered and it becomes quite a depressing experience... Date of review: July 19, 2013
In short: Worst Organised Race I Have Ever Done!!! Never Again!! In full: My review will mirror pretty much everyone elses, but just so the organisers get an idea of the debacle, here are my points in bullet format.
1. Far too many runners- halve it!! 2. Have a wave start by predicted finishing time. A random wave start is a waste of time, I spent the WHOLE race weaving around people, ended up 7 minutes off my pb! 3. Water stations a joke, too short and only one side of the road. 4. Delayed start, standing in blazing hot sun, didn't cross the start line until 10:15am 5. Toilets: Far too few at the baggage drop, none on the walk to and from the baggage drop and none on the course, ridiculous. 6. 'Entertainment' - one word, pointless. 7. Cost - £50 is too expensive, especially as the technical tops are such poor quality.
I'll never do this again. the organisers need to shape up or ship out. Take some learnings from the BUPA 10000 which is very well organised. Date of review: July 18, 2013
In short: Shambolic In full: This race is to be avoided, only when the number or runners drop is that they might realise that they have to LISTEN what people are saying, I don't understand how people still do this race, me included, I think criticism is such that I always hope it will change and become a half decent event, but no, year upon year, same story, these guys don't give a rat's arse about us runners, all they care is their pocket and profit from it, charge 50 quid for something that can only be described a shambles is a disgrace, t-shit is said to be technical, which it isn't and the design is horrid with that stupid logo that looks like someone paid 2 pence to design, 2013 was the last time for me, there is more on how baddly this race is year after year here on Runners's world website, spread the word http://www.runnersworld.co.uk/forum/events/the-director-of-the-british-10k-london-is-an-unprofessional-tool/176536.html Date of review: July 18, 2013
In short: A potentially great race ruined by moronic management. In full: This is a race that you just hope they'll get right. Unfortunately it's like a concept car. Looks great from the outside but there's not much under the bonnet. Until they root out the 'go to meeting' managers - the guys being paid to make the right noises but have no capacity or real skill to make the necessary improvements - this event will never get any better. I'm sure the 'team meeting' this week will be about what a great success it has all been AGAIN and they will always have their critics blah blah aren't we great...raised so much money...etc which is all well and fine however, I have NEVER read so much negative pen to paper critcism of any event EVER as I have read about the BRITISH 10K. Date of review: July 18, 2013
In short: One of the worst organised races I've run in 30 years of running In full: When I heard that the Cobalt Appeal were looking for runners for the British 10k London Run on Sunday 14 July I was happy to put my name forward. I'd heard of the race, I like the charity, and I wasn't doing anything that day except not painting the spare room.
When I worked out the logistics I was slightly less happy – the baggage store was open from 0800 to 0900, which meant setting the alarm for 0520. My companion and I left Cheltenham at 0600 and, thanks to no traffic and the tube, arrived at the baggage store in plenty of time.
So that just left the walk to the start. We started following a crowd, only to notice some other people walking purposefully the other way. We asked a marshall, who didn't know where the start was. Another pointed us somewhat uncertainly in what turned out to be the wrong direction, but eventually herd instinct kicked in and off we set. A sign would have been useful, since those of us who had brought our race notes with helpful maps had left them with the baggage.
We walked, and walked, and walked, for what seemed like miles. It was a very pleasant day for sitting in St James's Park watching the ducks, but slightly too wam for even mild exertion.
Finally we found ourselves at the Bomber Command memorial, along with several tens of thousands of others, trying to get onto Piccadilly. It was about 0920, so we were fifteen minutes early for the start which, according to the race notes, would be at 0935 in 30 second "waves", on a first-come, first-served basis.
At around 0930 the announcer asked us to give it up for "Katrina and the Waves". I was standing on a barrier and by craning my neck I could make out Katrina sans Waves on a balcony overlooking the start, doing a bang-up karaoke of her best-loved bits. Meanwhile under the relentless sun, we waited for the start. 0935 came and went, as did its immediate companion 0936 and its distant acquaintance 0940. Katrina was replaced by the inaudible Lord Mayor of Westminster.
Finally, around 0950, off went the gun and the elite runners. We didn't. We continued to stand there for quite a few minutes, until eventually we shuffled forward ten yards. Then another ten yards. Then twenty. Then we were actually, you know, walking. But what we were actually walking towards was Hyde Park, when we should have been walking towards Piccadilly Circus. Eventually, though, we crossed the underpass and, some fifteen or twenty minutes after the start, we crossed the first timing mat.
So far, so good. It's a mass participation race – over 20,000 runners – so expecting to be a couple of seconds across the start line (like at Frampton six days earlier) was never on the cards. And anyway, it's chip timing, so I could still win!
In every mass participation run I've ever entered you line up according to your predicted finishing time. The London Marathon, the Great North Run – these races enforce your adherence to this very sensible arrangement. The only time I ran the GNR I was running with someone else's number (tut! tut!), someone who had predicted 2h 20m, nearly an hour slower than I was aiming for. Though I appealed to the stewards, I was rightly refused entry to a faster pen, so I had to make my way for the first five miles past a herd of rhinoceros, clowns, stilt-walkers and the like.
The London 10k doesn't do "predicted times" unless, presumably, you're an invited elite runner (the winner, Robert Byron, ran 28m 34s which is reasonably elite in my book). The folly, for the semi-serious runner, was evident to me within about a hundred metres.
No, not salty potato snacks, I mean people walking. Sometimes three and four abreast.
I'm not a running fascist. Everyone goes at their own speed – that is a given. After all, at the end of a 10k Haile Gebrselassie would be nearly two miles ahead of me, which is a humbling thought, so I'm not in a position to look down on anyone and, on the hottest day of the year in the hottest place in Britain, walking wasn't a bad way of completing the course.
But it made it quite a problem for those who preferred to run. Even in the GNR starting so far back, after about five miles I had more or less stopped overtaking people and was running in a pack, but this never happened in London. I don't remember being overtaken, but after a while overtaking lost its novelty value (and I like overtaking, as a rule).
Even when the road was wide there was no way of running in a straight line, except on the pavement. And on the pavement were marshalls, shooing me (and other runners) back onto the road. Some walkers had moved to the edge but others were all over the place. One man had stopped on Westminster Bridge, right in the middle, facing the wrong way, taking a selfie on his iPhone.
Had I listened to the pundits (fast course, flat as a pancake) I might have been miffed at the impossibility of running this as a competitive 10k (I'm reasonably sure that, had I been wearing a Garmin, it would show at least 12k). As it was, after a hard week's racing and training, I was just there for the craic so for me it was no biggie.
But it was a problem. I saw several collisions between slower runners/walkers and those trying to overtake them, as well as liberal use of elbows. It wasn't the fault of the slower people that the organisers had thrown them in at the deep end.
What was more serious was the lack of water at various places. Normally in a 10k I wouldn't stop for water, but when it's hot (have I mentioned that it was hot?) then drinking and drenching are both vital. At some water stops the service was pretty poor (apparently one of the people handing out water was asking if the runner wanted the bottle to be opened for them!) – and at the end it was almost dangerous. Having crossed the timing mat the first thing I wanted was liquid, but could I find any? Could I eckerslike. Eventually I came upon a discarded pile of empty water cartons and in the distance a chap sauntering across the road with a replacement pack and a jaunty air. Before he'd reached me the thirsty vultures in front had nearly stripped his aquatic carcase.
After the race was over and we'd collected our kit we met up with the some others who were also running for Cobalt, and had our picture taken with our medals. Ah yes, the medals. Very nice, too – but I lost count of the number of times we had to explain to bewildered finishers where we got our medals from (bizarrely they were handed over when you retrieved your baggage, which was something of a disadvantage to those who never checked any baggage in).
The BBC political satire "The Thick Of It" is most notorious for the inventive swearing of the lead character Malcolm Tucker, but it also gave us the very useful word "omnishambles". For my money (in this instance £0 – except the cost of petrol and topping up my Oyster card) the London 10k was an "omnishambles" – certainly one of the worst organised races since any one of several of the Tewkesbury Half Marathon debacles of recent years.
No blame at all attaches to the marshalls, who were doing their best. Nor to Katrina, whose fault it was not that there was no room on her balcony for a Marshall amp and a poodle-haired guitarist, never mind a drum kit. But somewhere buried in the organisational apparatus – no, not apparatus; contraption* – someone forgot to explain the basics of how to organise a running race; to wit –
a) Start the race at the appointed time, particularly when the weather isn't conducive to keeping thousands of people hanging around b) Set people off in something at least approximating their likely order of finishing c) Don't say you're going to set the race off in waves if you're not going to set the race off in waves d) Train those tasked with operating a water station how to do it efficiently e) Tell marshalls at the baggage area where the start is f) Put up signs showing the way from the baggage area to the start in the event of the failure of e) g) Arrange for people to get their medals when they finish – don't make it a guessing game.
Would I do the race again? I might, if I could contrive to be about ten feet behind the elite runners at the start. It's heavily charity-centric, and for me that made a change from low-key club races. Plus, it is a truly fabulous course, round some of the most iconic sights in London. Would I recommend this race to an inexperienced runner? Not on your nellie. Do a few parkruns first.
* Credit for this to Martin Bell, the ex-BBC reporter who successfully stood for Parliament against the disgraced Tory MP Neil Hamilton. Bell described his political support as "less a machine than a contraption". Date of review: July 17, 2013
In short: Terrible organisation let down a potentially good run In full: This was the 2nd time I ran the British 10k and I can say I will give it a miss in future, unless major changes are made.
On a very hot day, we had to hang around for a long time before being marched to the start area. Thinking I was near the front, I found there were a few thousand in front. There was a lot of pushing in and a lot of runners seemed to join the front from Green Park, which was supposed to be off limits to runners.
The race started 25 minutes late, by which time, we had all finished any drinks we had and we all starting to feel the heat.
We then had to endure a taxi parade and listen to Katrina and the waves. Why have this? There is no benefit. The music on the tanoy left a lot to be desired too after the cat singing. Classical music and REMs' everybody hurts just before a run is not a good mix!!
The wave start only works if you do it by esitimated finish time. I have nothing against walkers, but come on, some of us are there to run. Forget a PB, unless you're lucky to be up front. There were also a lack of distance markers after 5km, which didn't help. And also, no goody bag at the finish, just a bottle of water and a sport drink.
After the race, it was a struggle to find out where to get my medal. Once I located my bad, I was given it.
This has the potential to be a great race, but needs major surgery and some changes in the management of it. As I said at the start, I will not run this again, until changes are made. Date of review: July 16, 2013
In short: Could be a classic but too poorly organised In full: Unacceptable that the start was delayed by 15 mins on the hottest day of the year Ridiculous that you had to go to the baggage area before the start and then walk 20 mins to the start - it can't be beyond the wit of the organisers to have the start / finish in the same location or at least close by. Date of review: July 16, 2013
In short: Shocking organisation spoiled an otherwise great race. Do it, but only once!! In full: Not a race for serious runners, but the chance to run through some iconic London landmarks is great. Organisation appalling, but it's all been said before. The support was wonderful and the medal very nice (once you'd manage to track it down!!) but the start was utterly dreadful and no chance of a decent time with so many walkers blocking the route. Good "race" for the views and the support but not for the serious runner! Date of review: July 15, 2013
In short: Could be much much better In full: First time I've done this race and also the last. Found the organisation terrible. Very hot day, no water stations at start and then kept waiting at start line for ages in the heat. Couldn't hear anything on the tannoy system at the back (probably for the best so didn't have to listen to katrina and the waves!) Start was not based on predicted finishing times so spent a lot of time dodging people walking in middle of road, so any chance of a PB is ruined. People working on the baggage bays didn't have a cluasia find bags so took ages to retrieve bag. Not a patch on the London marathon baggage workers! Had to go back and ask for medal as wasn't given one. Found a lot of rude jobsworth marshalls. The medal which is nice (when I finally got it) and the landmarks you pass are the only real positives to take from this race. Could be a great race but I won't be doing it again until a few things have changed! Date of review: July 15, 2013