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
In short: A few teething problems but has great potential to grow with improvements In full: A bit biased as my home town and football club but stadium finish makes it special. Good PB potential although last few miles felt uphill. Good support from locals once away from the bypass. Hope it becomes a fixture in the calendar. Date of review: September 29, 2011
In short: disapointingly average In full: there were a few teething problems which need sortin but foremost shame on OAA for their advise not to attend the race to all local running clubs when it is run for a worthy charity!! So disgusted to the extent that I won't be affiliated to UKA anymore. hence why there wasn't many club runners there. This issue needs addressing urgently! The route was a little disapointing. The traffice issues must be sorted out. maybe have the finish by a different route so it avoids the car park exit! Common sense really. The holds up at thwe start was entirley due to a steady stream of pedestrian crossing so the traffic became static! One steward at the crossing would have solved the problem by holding back the pedestrians for a while to allow flow of cars to park. Time pens at the start is a must for a city run. Goody bag to include energy bars, choc etc. State that money saved on tshirts to go to local charity. prizes given at 1pm when everybody had gone home! suggest main prizes (cat winners) to be done before midday. winners had to wait two hours and they were the only ones left at venue. good prizes though! Well done. Why wasn't the bar open? everybody I talked to fancied a drink. All proceeds going to charity! This could become a great half with only a little extra thought. Date of review: September 27, 2011
In short: Loved my second half marathon being the Oxford Half Marathon In full: Loved it, loved it and when they fix the following I'll love it even more.
A car park that handles far greater numbers on football match days couldn't cope - stewarding issues or over stewarding? - not sure but easy to fix - just check out what usually happens and apply.
In the town it was an obstacle course with traffic & pedestrians. At one point I was coralled into a bus stop. It was funny and I laughed but if I'd been one of the front runners looking for PB it may not have been so amusing.
Some of the traffic coning result in a very narrow lane complete with gutter and drains to run in. No chance to over take. Route needs to be looked into - could be more picturesque given the gorgeousness that is Oxford.
Hated the last hill. But that's geography and me being rubbish at hills for you :)
Loved the ending in the stadium - great cheering crowd. However, goody bag was, well nothing really. Some flyers and a pen in mine. Maybe I got a rubbish one but I don't think so.
Saying all that. the folk of Oxford were fantastic! Organised groups outside pubs, neighbours, tourists, all ages - what a warm and cheerful group they were. Thank you!
In short: A fine first effort In full: Generally a successful race, with only minor issues (bag drop, no T-shirt etc) that could be ironed out next year. The organizers deserve credit for persevering and making it happen.
As others have said, there are more scenic routes around Oxford - Littlemore has never looked worse than at 12 miles on an incline. The Town/Gown 10k is a case in point, but obviously it's a more compact route.