In short: Challenging course with great scenery, but not-so-great organisation In full: I agree with the comments by James Russell 20. Though I did the full marathon, much of James’ comment held true for that as well. I also agree that much of the negatives can be easily resolved. What I would like to add though is: a) The hill section after mile 3 out of Tenby that takes you up to mile 4 and the Ridgeway section of the course is particularly nasty… I mean “challenging”! b) The strong camaraderie between runners was superb and certainly helped to keep me going, especially in the latter stages. c) More drink stations, especial ones with isotonic drinks would have also helped, otherwise on a very hot day I could see there being some serious hydration issues. d) The views from Manorbier over the coast were breath-taking. Shame I had little breath left by then to give! e) Yes, the roads were closed, and in most part this held up. Though to be honest, some of the roads were narrow single track, which would have made things interesting if there was traffic on them. f) The finish had red carpet; almost Ironman style. Shame the finishing clock wasn’t on the overhead gantry (ok, a minor point), but at least the welcoming crowds were there to make it all worthwhile. g) 3 days after the event and the results are now available, but still not the full results. Not sure why it is taking so long when many other events offer provisional results the same evening or following day.
In short: Needs fine tuning to make it a great event but it has massive potential. In full: You get the feeling that the organisers have never actually done this sort of thing themselves, otherwise they would have realised that starting a half marathon in June at midday has the potential to actually be quite dangerous. Fortunately on this occasion there was sufficient cloud cover to stop it from getting too hot.
The distance markers are pure fiction - apparently I ran the first mile in 5 1/2 minutes! The last mile meanwhile was more like two!
The pre-race information was sketchy, I never actually received the email information pack that others had and when I tried to download it from the website it would not work. An example of this is the baggage reclaim - my friends and I turned up hoping for the best having not been able to ascertain if such a facility was in fact available because there was confusing information on the website.
The water stops definitely need working on - the volunteers manning them were clearly inexperienced and could not cope in spite of valiant efforts and there were not enough water stops in any case.
That's the negatives out of the way and they are all things that the organisers can easily solve if they put their minds to it. There are are lots of positives!
The scenery is fabulous much as you would expect from Pembrokeshire, especially once you reach the Ridgeway Road. OK the hill that you have to run up to get there is huge and anyone interested in doing this route should realise that there are far more hills than you would normally expect on a half marathon. However in some ways my friends and I felt that this was a positive thing because having done this run we now feel extremely confident about doing other half marathons later this year. So in that respect the Wales half marathon and indeed the full marathon can be marketed as a real challenge.
As inexperienced as the volunteers were, they worked really hard and were always charming and very supportive, and helped to make the day an enjoyable one. The support from the locals when you ran through the villages was also really appreciated. The man in Manorbier with the garden hose was a lifesaver!
Starting in Pembroke Castle was a nice touch, but highlight of the day has to be the finish in Tenby - the crowd was amazing for such a small town. Date of review: June 11, 2012
In short: Poorly organised for the half marathon In full: I've run over 100 half marathons but have never seen such a farcical start, i ran the first mile according to the mile markers in 4 minutes & the last in 15! Unable to know if i was on my predicted target time as the markers were all over the place, poor medal & T shirt & easily the most dissapointing half marathon i've ever run. Hats off to the runners who completed the full marathon though those hills were challenging enough fo a half marathon. Date of review: June 11, 2012
In short: Hilly, scenic and well organised. A really enjoyable event In full: As my first Marathon I had some trepidation about the hills. As it turned out they were 'runable' but by mile 22 I really flagged up one bit. Scenery was fantastic, and there was a fair amount of support throughout the race from locals and the marshalls.
I finished in 3hr 2min which was quite far up the field. I ran for miles without seeing any other runners, and the only guys I saw were those ahead who had pulled up.
The whole event was top class organisation, and the finishing straight was a real treat Date of review: June 10, 2012
In short: Great scenery, hard race, poor organisation In full: I can only comment on the Wales Half Marathon, not the other events over the weekend (it was run in conjunction with a long course triathlon). It was hard race in a fantastic part of the country. Hilly, not undulating as the organisers claimed, so no good for PBs. Organisation left a lot to be desired. At the start, I collided with an official photographer who was trying to get off the course after the gun had gone. There were no mile markers at all for the half marathon, and it was confusing given that the marathon was run on a slightly different course. At the finish, there was a nasty 180 degree turn round a crash barrier to get to the finish line itself, which wasn't clear. I'd actually stopped running until a marshall came up and told me to keep going, which cost me a place in the top 10. Never mind, I found out about 5 days later when the results were published that I'd won a vets category (though the prize wasn't presented at the awards ceremony): 2 weeks later and I'm still waiting for it. Ho hum.
So if you want a better half marathon in South Wales (i.e. flat, fast and certainly better organised), run the Cardiff half in October. Date of review: June 17, 2011
In short: The weather and location made the event. In full: After twenty previous marathons, including a couple of hilly ones, this ranks as my most challenging; definitely more than 'undulating'. My first negative point would be the unreliability of the mile markers. Then, I was diappointed not to see the Half distance marked. Some of the water stations were less than organised, and it was unhelpful to be given such a large bottle of water (unopened), in Pembroke, so that I had to hand it to a spectator! Thankfully I still had a drop of my own drink left. Passing the Half Marathon runners as they made their way to the start was not as easy as it should have been, but they were encouraging when they realised what was happening. When it came to the final mile; running past the Finish area and climbing round the castle like a mountain goat, it was hard to take it seriously. Crossing the line just after 4:08 I knew that I'd had a good day...but it could have been a great day. The area and provisions in the enclosure beyond the finish line were extremely limited, but I approved of the smaller bottle size! But there were some positives. The direction signs were mainly helpful, and the marshals and volunteers were cheerful and friendly. The post-race massage was top class, and very reasonably priced. Date of review: June 12, 2011
In short: Great organisation, incredibly friendly marshals & spectators...just very hilly! In full: I loved this race. Yes, it was very hilly - not "undulating" as I was originally told - just plain hilly! But once you reach the top of the steepest hill around mile 5 it is glorious. The view totally makes up for pain of the hills. The marshals were encouraging and friendly, and the local spectators were absolutely angels. I ran into difficulty due to dehydration (the plastic cup idea is the only complaint I have) but never before have I experienced such kindness and encouragement from strangers - thank you to all the runners who stopped or slowed down to offer a bit of advice! Date of review: June 8, 2011
In short: By far the steepest hills I've ever tackled, definitely one to be proud of. In full: For my first half marathon, this was definitely a tough one, luckily I had done some hill training, but definitely not enough to properly prepare for this. I managed my target of sub two hours and the difficulty factor just makes me all the more proud. Date of review: June 7, 2011
In short: Badly organised with crazy hills In full: As a regular half marathon runner, I was finally on course to go under 2 hours on an undulating course. I managed to struggle over the finish line at 2hrs30 mins!
The organisers sent a 32 page info booklet that wouldnt download properly and had many of us totally confused.
The 2011 run was during a particularly hot weekend and we had very few water stops with them just handing out small cups and not proper bottles we could carry. There's very little support on the extremely hilly course, due to it mainly being through the countryside. The scerery is amazing and the medal and tshirts were good, but there was very little marshalling, drink stops and medics on the route, despite a hefty entrance fee.
Given the male winner finished in 1hr25 it shows how difficult the course is.
Unless you're very familiar with hill running then i would not reccomend this run. Most people i spoke to running the course hated it too.
I wont be doing it again but will instead be attempting the Cardiff Half for a good run in Wales. Date of review: June 7, 2011