In short: Overall very good but a few problems caused by numbers/organisation In full: Overall, I thought this was a good race.
This is my second Cardiff half (first in 2011) and I thought the route was much better than last year's. The support was very good, especially in Roath, Cathays and city centre, but a bit patchy.
My only gripes relate to the crowd control element. It's obvious that the organisers have intentions to make this a big event and to use it to make more big events in Cardiff. I've absolutely no problem with that. But I think they will need to sort out two issues:
1) Race route - a few too many bottleneck points at corners, after the barrage and crowd-induced bottlenecks with supporters going right into the road, Tour de France style. The support was appreciated but some robust marshalling is needed - for their safety and ours.
2) On the issue of the 2hr+ runners I would agree with other reviewers that organisers let too many off at the start in one go. I saw a quote on Walesonline.co.uk from the chairman of Run 4 Wales saying they'd got everyone through in 11 mins! But it's also up to runners to be realistic and honest with their timings. Far too many in front of me were running slowly at three, four, more abreast. And I don't like to pick on anyone but I ran past a chap at mile 1.5 who was carrying a wooden CROSS. I'm sorry but if you're doing that you will definitely not finish sub-2hr. I'm not a very seasoned runner and I'm sure it's an issue in every race and in all the pens but I'd like to see runners take on their own responsibility to gauge their pace during training and be realistic about where they start.
But like I said overall I thought it was very good. Date of review: October 15, 2012
In short: Fast circuit, some good scenery, average support In full: I chose to run in Cardiff (first time) for the flat course. It delivered that and I got a PB. Traffic in was congested and it could have been better marshalled for those not familiar with Cardiff. I was there at 8 and it still seemed a better idea to dump the car in a side street and walk down to the start point - this also made it easier getting out again. Baggage tents worked well. Starting pen was fine and no delay getting out onto the course (I was in yellow). Several pinch points along the course which must have got worse when the main swell of runners were coming through. Reasonable support but not a patch on Reading. Goody bag t-shirt was good, rest of contents pretty close to irrelevant. I'll be back but it's a yet a fixture of the season for me. Date of review: October 15, 2012
In short: Much improved, brilliant course In full: So pleased to be able to rate this event so highly after disappointments of previous years. Brilliant course, a couple of hills to add a bit of a challenge (if all you are interested in is PBs buy a treadmill). Really well organised throughout. Only minor gripe was I missed quite a few mile markers - were they there? I started near the front so had no problems but could see potential bottle necks especially coming off the barrage.
In short: Organisation much improved on last year - well done organisers for listening to feedback great race! In full: Last year all the moans were about the dull dual carriageway section (gone for 2012!) the couple of associated hills (gone for 2012)and crowed start line (ok 18000 people crowds to be expected). Organisation was much improved but maybe waved starts would help if this event grows any more - there were a couple of bottle necks coming onto / off the barrage - last year this was much later in race where runners had thinned out. But overall this is my favourite half (2nd time ive run) and managed to knock 30 mins off last years time to set new pb. Perfect for first timers. Maybe bit more direction / signage about parking etc would have helped and better access to pens. Decent medal - good bags were a bit odd though no snacks except a cough sweet (!), can of non-alcoholic lager (i deserved a pint) and some shampoo (im bald!!) but i always think the bags are a nice to have rather than necessity. A sports drink and a mars bar would have sufficed for me. Well done Cardiff Black Pear Joggers will be back in force next year!!! Date of review: October 15, 2012
In short: Best route so far In full: My thoughts (this was my fourth Cardiff Half):
1. The white pen should have been divided up. I couldn't work out where to start from - there's a big difference between someone hoping to run 2 to 2.15 and someone (like me) who knows they run 2.25 every year! I don't quite need a 'start here Maggie' sign but a 2.30 start would have been handy.
2. So many spectators dashing across the road and not all of them made it unscathed. I saw several near misses and was then hit by a woman crossing the road with a pushchair just before mile 12 (ouch!) Nothing the organisers can do about that one though - but runners beware!
3. I thought the atmosphere was better than ever this year. Cardiff is learning how to cheer on and be proud of its half marathon. So funny to see people leaning out of their bedroom windows in their pyjamas.
4. Plenty of water/gels/sports drink even for the slower runners. Thank you.
5. The organisers do seem to listen to the points made by runners. Things that were suggested last year were implemented this year so thank you for that. You'll never please everyone but as a slow back of the pack participant, I noticed improvements and was grateful for them. Date of review: October 15, 2012
In short: Well worth the effort of travelling down from Yorkshire In full: The medal and goodie bag collection was chaos until someone thought of taking them into the crowd. For most of the time it was akin to running in a football crowd which precluded any PB. Frustration was due to thoughtless runners dodging in and out ( which caused one or two tumbles ) and slower runners (walkers) being two or three abreast ! Spectator intrusion was also a problem in places. I never saw any pacers and the promised music was sparse ? I would suggest that in future the pens are more stringently enforced and instead of a blanket 2hour pen this is broken down into 2.15, 2.30 etc ( see the results ) On the plus side apart from the industrial estate the atmosphere was good and for a big city event well organised. Despite what other participants have reported , by following the organisers recommendations for parking facilities I found leaving the city comparatively easy. This event is well worth entering. Date of review: October 15, 2012
In short: Some bits better, some bits worse. In full: Have run this race multiple times before but this was the first time I have run with someone else (PB, well done Mrs!) and it gave me a different perspective on the race.
The route - It is a tricky thing for the organisers trying to get lots (too many) of people around Cardiff. The park is pretty but has lots of bottlenecks, the bay and Penarth excellent but connected to the city by miles in industrial estates/flyovers. The city centre is relatively small. It must be a battle with the council to get the roads shut. This year’s route was the best for a while, only a couple of boring bits and one or two ridiculous bottlenecks (the one by Tiger Gate just after the barrage was a joke). I think on balance this is probably as good as it will get for a few years, pushing the number of participants really hampers the routes they can use. Water stops were good and well placed. The energy drink stop had run out long before we got there and the road was littered with bottles from which only 1 sip had been taken (surely of they can get mini water bottles they can get mini energy drink bottles). Personally I would suggest taking out the energy gel station and doubling up the energy drinks. If you are using energy gels in training then surely you have a way of carrying one or 2 with you on the run, if you have never used gels before then race day is not the time to try them out! Thought the bit around Roath lake was excellent. Mile markers 6, 7 and 8 either missing or invisible, poor show. Crowds were great towards the end but pretty non-existent towards the beginning.
Organisation – I’ve lived in Cardiff for a while now and so I knew exactly where to go and the places to park. This was however, the first race I’ve been to for a while that didn’t have any obvious signage on the roads to help people looking to park up and get to the start. Bag system worked great. Running pens for the first time but no waved start so very frustrating run for the first few miles, especially from towards the middle/back. Runner’s village and post race area very congested but not bad overall. Marshalls seemed fairly sparse on the run, but those at the start/finish were very helpful. Thanks to everyone who volunteered.
Value for money – It is a very expensive half marathon. Personally I don’t care about the goody bag, I have too many ill fitting race t-shirts but for others who will probably only do this length of race once it IS a big deal.
Overall, it is a decent race but not worth the money. I wish that they would show off a few more of the city landmarks but as the numbers climb this seems unlikely. Also, bring back the marathon. Please.
In short: A real mixture of good and could be better In full: What to say about this event? Patchy is , I think the best response Organisation - odd , wheelchairs were started 2.5 minutes before the main race. As a result, they got swamped. Not difficult to resolve but still needs to be addressed. With ~18,000 (their numbers) runners, the start was very poorly managed and controlled. Open pens with easy access to any level of time. Having a City Centre start is good for the organisers in terms of spectacle but makes things congested. The finish wasn't much better. I got to the family meeting area to find 3 people there. Signage was generally lamentable. Route - an odd mixture of very mundane suburbia and dockland, coupled with some good sea views out the barrage. It was also trickier than I had expected with some sneaky, stiff little hills. Support - again patchy but often unanimated. I 'm not a big fan of the GNR but the locals do turn out and get involved. There were no offers of oranges, ice lollies, tea, beer etc here and not buch applause. Inded in some places, there were no supporters. Location - parking, getting there and getting away all difficult. The early start meant that public transport wasn't an option so traffic was horrendous. Suggest the organisers take time and look at how other big races work and learn some lessons. There seems to be a lot of local support for this event so it must be worth getting bit right, or at least better. Date of review: October 15, 2012
In short: Very scenic, great atmosphere In full: First time for me doing Cardiff. I loved it, well worth the trip from Hampshire. Felt the finish area with the giving out of medals and t-shirts etc could be a little better organised, but that wouldn't stop me from doing it again. Date of review: October 15, 2012