In short: Absolutely Brilliant In full: Awesome, and reading some of the picky reviews is about as irritating as reading trip advisor ! This race is massive, and that is what I love about it, so guess what I expect it to take some time to get to the race village (it actually didn't !) and I expect it to take a long time to get away after the race. I don't think there is really any alternative, there were tens of thousands of people there, and with no big city transport infrastructure to get people away it is inevitable it will take a long time. I brought a warm coat and waited an hour in good humour with the vast majority of other reasonable and grateful runners. The kit tent was not great, (I waited 25 mins) but it was no outrage either. I do find it amazing that a few people want all of the big race atmosphere and perks of such a massive race, but don't accept any of the disadvantages. Aside from the expected challenges of getting there and getting home, I thought the race was perfect, better than any I have ever done. The start was well planned, I was in the blue zone, I got there in plenty of time, easily found the right zone amongst all those people, the staggered start seemed to reduce congestion on the course, the crowds were breath taking and the atmosphere through Reading town centre was similar to a 'London' experience. The route is surprisingly scenic (except for the dual carriageway back to the stadium) and aside from the wind the course is fast. The stadium finish is my favourite part, I finished in just over 2 hours but it felt like I'd won the Olympics, and 2 strides after the finish line I received a text telling me my time (how do they do that !) the medal was huge and goody bag great, all in all, absolutely brilliant, worth every penny and more. Will be back. Date of review: March 3, 2014
In short: The race was great, pity about afterwards. In full: The weather in the morning set a great start. The line for the shuttle bus was really long but it moved pretty fast and we got to the stadium in reasonable time. The toilet queues were all pretty short and we were able to drop our bags off with no trouble. The walk to the start was fine and our pen was well managed only letting in people with red race numbers. Not sure why we started five minutes late, but telling us this when we're expecting to start meant we had warmed up too early and had to mentally prepare all over again.
Actual race was great. I found the course really enjoyable. The crowd was great. The music was fantastic. I loved the stadium finish (despite having no energy left). And only one small bottleneck. And great medal.
Then it all went wrong. I picked up my bag from the women's tent without any queue then lined up with my boyf for 45 mins waiting for his bag. In all my ten years of running races (including larger races) I have never been in a longer bag check line. And then it got worse... We lined up for the bus back to the stadium without actually knowing if it was the correct line (as there was no one around to ask or any signs). The line never seemed to end and what was most frustrating is having no idea how much longer it would take. It was getting very cold and we had been on our feet for over three hours already. When we finally got on a bus (after about one hour) I could not believe that they did not full the buses up. All seats were filled up but there was so much standing space. I am sure the people behind me would have rather got on and stood rather than continue to wait in the cold.
Great race but failed miserably post-race and so unfortunately I won't be coming back. Date of review: March 3, 2014
In short: Good starters, fantastic main course, shocking dessert In full: Most of the other reviews say it all. This should be a great race (a PB for me!). The people of Reading around the majority of the course were brilliant - samba bands, jelly babies and even a pub giving out free beers. However, with all their experience, I would have hoped the organisers might have cracked how to get people's baggage back to them without the endless queues in sweaty running clothes, standing in the driving wind and rain. And some better signage for the shuttle buses and prepaid car parks might have made the whole experience less stressful for runners and spectators alike. Date of review: March 2, 2014
In short: Mixed experience In full: Getting to the Mad Stad from the railway station was slick and easy. The queue, which looked liked a real monster and stretched for a couple of blocks, moved v quickly.
Once there, I was in the orange zone (2.15 finisher) and it felt as though we were waiting for ever. People were dashing in and out of the railings for a pee (myself included) which didn't make for a smooth or relaxed start. When I went into the Orange Zone, I didn't need the loo, but after 15 minutes, began to feel as though I did. If we could have set off after five minutes rather than 15+ minutes, I doubt this would've been an issue.
There was a DJ from Heart who was well-intentioned and supposed to be livening us up / providing a distraction and some atmosphere, but honestly! She was loud, shouting and grating. I wished I had a mute button. It really made the long wait even more uncomfortable.
Once off, everything smooth and great crowds, but a tight turn through the gate, towards Forbury Gdns / the Magistrates Court. The finish into the Mad Stad was uplifting and memorable.
Didn't suffer from baggage collection as the ladies' seemed well organised but really felt for the men waiting in massive queues. It was soooo slow and by this point, very cold.
Signs for the shuttle bus could have been clearer. We set off to walk but got very very cold and managed to board one after it had set off. Glad we did, as boyf hadn't taken a foil blanket (lack of experience), didn't have another layer and looked as though hypothermia was setting in!
So, the race was great, the women's bag drop was great, transport to the stadium was great, but men's baggage and transport back needed to be improved.
In short: Good run with great local support just don't rely on some elements of organisation In full: As always the course is good for pb's, especially as they now do a staggered start. The support from the locals immense, the stadium finish always a nice touch and there is a very nice medal and decent goody bag. Last year I was a supporter and refused to take the bus option this time as a result ... there were ridiclously long queues in the cold and very wet last year.. our runner actually got ill due to it. So this year we used the car park (not red) and as such didn't have to use baggage either, so it all went marvellously smoothly. Feel bad for those reviewers who tried to use the facilities and found them lacking ... it seems to be a perennial problem. Was slightly bemused by the queue in some kind of caged rat run to get out of the stadium area which seemed to be there so people with clickers could count our running shoe types ... bizarre and frustrating. Also, I agree with one of the reviewers here in that it makes me feel slightly guilty saying this but the lady on the tannoy at the start really isn't suited to the job. She was loud and screechy and made extremely repetitive comments. She came across as somewhat attention seeking and possibly irritated with the lack of runner feedback. Anyway I'm sure she was doing her best it is clearly just not her thing.
In short: Fast course but incompetent organisation In full: This was my first Reading Half Marathon, and I'm usually not a fan of these big events, but the race fitted in nicely to my marathon training schedule.
First the positives. The wave starts were well managed and I only spotted a few muppets who pushed their way to the front to then run 10 minute mile pace - why do they do that? The course itself was very fast. The first 3 miles uphill helped you started steady, and then it felt like mostly downhill apart from a short sharp hill at 7 miles. The stadium finish was a nice touch.
Now the big, big negatives. I waited 70 minutes to collect my bag after the race in the cold and rain. They seemed to have allocated the first 5000 numbers to the faster runners. It was then surely no surprise that they all queued up at the same time. One tent for 5000 numbers. Really? In 20 years of attending races I have never waited so long. What added insult to injury was seeing runners who had probably finished the race 30 minutes after me getting their bag straight away as their numbers were > 10,000!
When I finally got my bag and started to walk back to the car park I then saw the queue for the buses back to the station. They were even bigger than the baggage queues.
Other big races seems to manage the organisation so why did Reading get it so very wrong? Date of review: March 2, 2014
In short: Great support let down by organization In full: The course itself is excellent with a good mixture of flat and some mild climbs. The support from the people of Reading was brilliant. They deserve better. The baggage collection was a joke for male runners numbered under 5000 - and nobody had the gumption to change it. Then to top it all, I had to queue over an hour for the bus back into town. If I had known it was anything like that I would have walked the short 2 mile walk into town but there was no indication. The longest I have ever taken to get home from a race and I am local. Won't be doing it again and it will be Bath every time for me from now on Date of review: March 2, 2014