In short: This was the first time i ran the Reading Half Marathon and i absolutely loved it, i'm only 17 and have done previous half marathons but this was definitely the best of the lot. What makes it better is i achieved a pb of 1:21:41 so im very happy! Date of review: March 4, 2014
In short: I can walk to the start so baggage isn't an issue.... In full: ....though I know from friends that it is a nightmare (every year). However, I can only take as I find. The route has certainly improved and is now relatively pleasant, although the last 2-3 miles is dull as dishwater. The rest is quite nice - Reading really isn't as ugly as people make out (I might live there but I am not from Reading, so I'm trying not to be biased!).
I do 20-30 races each year and was amazed by the level of support - I was (stupidly) running with a bit of an injury and every time I felt like quitting the fantastic crowd kept me going. I've only really experienced such consistent on route support at London. The stadium finish was brilliant and the crowd noise is a genuine roar as you turn into the ground.
The course is very good and has an interesting mix of (little) hills, straights and tight turns - thoroughly enjoyable!
That said, my main gripe is the cost. Despite living there, this was my first Reading since 2002, and that is based purely on the high entry fee. There are lots of other races Good races at this time of year that don't cost anywhere near the £36 it cost for this (i.e. Fleet half, which is an extremely good race and costs £10 less). I'm not tight, but the cost seems too high!
So overall, if you want a potential PB and fantastic crowd support, and don't mind paying over the odds, then Reading is ideal (I think, on balance, that it is worth it). My only advice would be to carry a small backpack and wear clothes that you can dump before the start, thus avoiding the baggage. Date of review: March 3, 2014
In short: Favourite Reading Half so far In full: If you want a large road race with great atmosphere and crowd support then go for this one. Organisation at start was great. Parking close by, no queue for loos, nicely organised starting pens. Support round the race brilliant, including lots of live entertainment and unofficial water tables (?). Stadium finish is the best for a masse event! I didn't use the baggage tent nor the shuttle buses - which sounds like was a very good choice. Took a long time to leave the car park though which spoilt it a bit and if even more people tried to park close by there wouldn't be enough space... Date of review: March 3, 2014
In short: There's a good, and there's an ugly In full: The good...the people of Reading are a delight. All the way around the course, we had wonderful support. I ran this event in 2013 in the torrential rain and then was shocked by just how many people braved it to come and cheer us on. This year was a new level! This race is truly made by the spectators and I am grateful to them for their amazing turnout and good spirits.
The finish in the Madjeski stadium was as I remember it - spectacular!
The ugly...the previous reviews have said it already, but I guess its worth saying again. The queues to collect baggage were horrendous! All credit to the volunteers who were working the tents - it wasn't their fault. But the organisers really need to ensure this doesn't happen again!
The wait to get on the bus to get to town was also a shocker! That and the baggage collection were a real let down after such a warm hearted race.
Having crossed the finish line at about 12.15ish, the combined baggage and bus fiasco meant I didn't make it into town until just before 2.30pm. I think I fared better than many others!
I will probably do the race again as I think the local support is something truly special..so I sincerely hope this race gets the organisation it deserves.
In short: So much promise deflated by post-race shambles In full: A nice email from Sweatshop Events today:
"We've had lots of positive feedback about the event already and we'd love to hear yours."
Conveniently side stepping all the negative comments about the baggage claim nightmare or the drudgery of walking back to the town centre after waiting for non-existent buses.
It's a real shame because the friendly Reading folk are so welcoming and the race has so many good things going for it. The course has PB potential, the crowds & music are great, the race village is entertaining, the medal (this year) was a real treat and the goody bag was really thought out.
I did feel a bit sorry for some of the pacers, who had to hold up small whiteboards with their time scribbled on, but those are the breaks when you get a free race spot in return.
The baggage claim though... unforgivable.
I get that not everyone had to stand around in the rain for an hour, huddled in a foil blanket, while their core temperature plummeted but to the guy who helpfully reviews the race with the "vast majority of other reasonable and grateful runners" and tells us that we just "want all of the big race atmosphere and perks of such a massive race, but don't accept any of the disadvantages"... well... nice one mate.
I guess I fall into the unreasonable and ungrateful runners who likes to collect their bag in under an hour so they can get changed and contact their friends. Maybe it's because I'm just a soft southerner and should be thankful that I don't have to wake up in a shoebox at twelve o'clock at night, work twenty-four hours a day at the mill for four pence every six years, run a half marathon and then use the rain as a cold shower while I wait an hour for a change of clothes.
I'd like to think Sweatshop Events will take some notice and sort out the baggage system but this event sells out every year regardless. Date of review: March 3, 2014
In short: Great course and great atmosphere In full: Firsy time for me at this one. Lasting memory will be the fantastic support from the people of Reading. Course was slightly more challenging than I was expecting although not a difficult one by any means. In the red start but loads of zig zagging in the early part of the race to avoid slower runners. The dual carriageway section into the wind between miles 10 and 12 was quite demanding but the stadium finish was really good. Enough has been said about the bag collection already. Worth a drive from West Wales? Yes but sort the bags out! Date of review: March 3, 2014
In short: Great race and very well supported, ruined by atrocious post-race organisation In full: I (Matt's wife) really enjoyed the race and the support was fantastic. However, after the race the queue for the men's kit tent was over an hour (a lot less for women) and the queue for the shuttle buses back to the town center were well over an hour. A lot of us were cold and fed up having to wait in such a huge queue at the end of a long race. Considering this race has been running for some time I would have thought these long waits could be avoided. Date of review: March 3, 2014
In short: Best race ever In full: Almost perfect in every way apart from a bit of a queue at the end, with what felt like 15,000 supporters in the stadium though I'm not sure how you avoid that so I'm not going to criticise. Loved it, every second and the medal is unreal. Thankyou Date of review: March 3, 2014