In short: Race lives up to the hype, but baggage left a sour aftertaste In full: As mentioned by almost every other reviewer, this race was pretty near perfect until the finish, where the baggage wheels came off. Concentrating on the positives, the rest of the organization was spot-on, the supporting crowds numerous and enthusiastic, and my fellow runners very chipper. Finally, the goody bag was one of the best I have received Date of review: March 2, 2014
In short: Pleasant Run around Reading In full: This is my first Reading Half and I was using it as a longer tempo run for my training for the London Marathon. The crowds were enthusiastic, the course was extremely fast and crowded which was great for simulating what I think London will be like. The only issue I had was with the length of time it took to pick up my baggage. The queue was more frightening than any aspect of the actual race. It took about 40 minutes in the freezing cold and rain which took a little bit of the gloss off my time which was 3 minutes faster than I was aiming for. Other than that what is there not to like. A huge event, well organised and a quick course. Date of review: March 2, 2014
In short: A good race with a great atmosphere, spoilt by dreadful organisation post race In full: This is a race I enjoy, and today I celebrated my 10th consecutive Reading Half. Early signs were good – not much of a queue to get off the motorway and into the race parking, not too much crowding getting to the stadium, and even the queues for the toilets were pretty short. The race itself was great – started 5 minutes late, but that wasn’t a problem and the new phased start did reduce congestion for the first half a mile or so (though there was a new slight hold up at one of the corners fairly early on). Music on the course was better than ever – the drummers under the underpass are always my favourite, and the church choirs, dance music and rock band performing Yes covers all added to the atmosphere. Support from the locals is also good and of all the races I do, I always think that Reading is closest in feel to the London Marathon without having to go twice the distance. Finish processing was busy but working well (I finished in 1:55, which must have been near the peak) – the disposable bib timing chips no doubt help with this – I picked up all my bits without having to wait. Then it started to go wrong.
The queues for the male baggage tents were epic. It took me 45 minutes and I think I was one of the lucky ones. This is completely unacceptable; we were all stood there in wet kit, with no dry clothing or shelter and exposed to the elements – a safety issue. For some reason, it was working fine for the ladies so I don’t know what happened. As a Race Director myself, I know the Army Cadets are great at this sort of thing so can only think the organisers made some fundamental error like allocating race numbers by predicted finish time, meaning that everyone was hitting the same area of baggage tent at the same time. On my way back to join another long queue to get out of the car park, I passed another horrific queue for the shuttle bus. All in all it took longer to collect my bag and get out of the car park than it did to complete the race. For a commercial race, organised by paid professionals that charges an entry fee higher than the London Marathon I expect more. I don’t think I’ll be back.
In short: Huge field has pluses and minuses In full: I was in the blue zone and finished in 1:48. Unlike some reviewers below I dropped my baggage and picked it up afterwards in reasonably good order. The queue afterwards was huge but it moved quickly and I ended up waiting for 9 minutes. Not bad but it was blowing a cold wind and threatening to rain. The cadets were working really hard and I think at times struggling to keep up with the sheer numbers. But not a disaster.
Rest of the race was good. Start was fast, course was busy but no real pinch points. Plenty of water stops. Excellent chunky medal and a decent goody bag.
Mass participation races aren't really my thing but this was a decent day out.
There are two things that no race organizers can have too many of - loos and baggage handlers. Date of review: March 2, 2014
In short: Post-race organisation was the worst I have ever seen. In full: Queued 1.15 hours for my bag in freezing cold then another 1.15 for the shuttle bus back to the station. Unless they a) recognise that there was a problem and b) tell us what they are going to do about it I would avoid like the plague. Date of review: March 2, 2014
In short: Post-race shambles...but pb potential. In full: The race itself was great, however I had to overtake people the whole way round. Even though I stood in the correct zone for my end time, I had to swerve around the majority of the race which added to my finish time. However I got a PB so very happy. The queues at the end were shocking. Luckily for me, as a woman, I picked up my bag straightway. Then I had to queue for 45 mins with my boyfriend to collect his bag. Then a good 1 1/2 to get the shuttle bus back to Reading station. Everyone was freezing and our muscles were seizing up. I did this race 4 years ago and raved about it. I would never recommend it-worst post-race organisation I've ever seen. Date of review: March 2, 2014
In short: One to avoid unless you have the patience of a saint. In full: Good course, the crowd were great as were the bands. Drinks stations didn't seem to be signposted and the post race organisation was a shambles. It took me 2 hours to collect my bag and get back to the station. Ok I guess if you are super fast or super slow but at 1:38 and male you were 45 mins to collect your bag Date of review: March 2, 2014