In short: My first half-marathon, loved it. Definitely coming back In full: Fantastic marshalling and organisation. First mile a bit crowded so lost time - I'll start nearer the front next year!! The hill just after Welford was a little impudent I felt... Great race, great encouragement all along the route (including a group of cheerleaders complete with pom-poms at Milcote!) plenty of water. Can't fault it - well done to the organisers who must have put in hours of planning. Date of review: May 12, 2009
In short: Fourth time running my home-town race and as enjoyable as ever. In full: I do feel that this race is poor value for money, even though it's for charity. A bit disappointed to get only a banana and bottle of water at the finish. A nice goody bag would be the icing on the cake of this otherwise fantastic event. Date of review: May 6, 2009
In short: spot on In full: my 28th marathon.and oh how i enjoyed it.superb day.And to the short haired blonde lady from the rotary club who was clearing up rubbish.@ the finish and was talking to me and my wife.As i was sweating and sluring you absolutely made my day THANK YOU x. Date of review: May 5, 2009
In short: Well organised and good course - well worh a visit. In full: Only one query was why so many runners took one sip of the water /energy drink and dumped the bottle. It must cost the organisers extra and so reduce the take for charity - surely carrying the bottle until it is finished and maybe not needing one at each station is the answer Date of review: May 5, 2009
In short: An enjoyable Half Marathon, if not a bit expensive with a poor finish... In full: I've not been back to Stratford since running the full marathon in 1997. I decided to only run the Half Marathon this year as I'm saving myself for Edinburgh instead at the end of May!
I must say that I enjoyed the race and was very impressed with the silky smooth organisation by Stratford's Rotary Club. I liked the improved race start with the lap around Stratford's town centre (rather than round the playing fields by the finish as it was in 97). It was a shame however, that there wasn't some form of 'starting pen' system, as some of the faster runners could get boxed in around the town. Was the chap on the tannoy system from local radio? He was just background noise for me as I was focused on my race, so I didn't notice him being condescending. I did have to jump over the barriers for a last minute toilet stop though - so a good job there were public conveniences handy!
Parking by the finish was convenient and cost £3. There were some porta-loos there, although there was a 5 minute'ish queue to use them. I didn't use the changing facilities, but there looked to be a big queue for those. There were lots of toilets on the course though, something that other races seem to neglect. The course itself was nice and although there is one obvious hill, there are also several other inclines. The big hill is just enough to give you at least one slow mile, jeopardising a PB attempt. The Greenway was nice and there was lots of supporters on there, especially the Macmillan crowd. And generally the support from the locals was very uplifting - even the poor souls trapped in their cars watching the runners going past appeared supportive (even if a little pee'd off with the delay). Plenty of bottled water on the course, but only one energy drinks stop that I saw. All the marshals were very friendly, professional and supportive (as they were in 97, when it was cups of water and orange squash).
It's all positive except for a couple of gripes. The cost was high for a half marathon, possibly because the half and full marathon were priced the same at £23. Logic would suggest that a half marathon should be cheaper than a full one, maybe not half the price, but definitely cheaper. The medal received was excellent though - totally relevant for the event's Shakespeare connection. But I was expecting a little more than a medal, banana and bottle of water at the finish. Admittedly I didn't want a bag full of junk, but a race t-shirt would have been most welcome along with the medal, water and banana (as was the case in the Birmingham Half Marathon costing £20 last year). I understand the charitable aims of the race, but even so, £23 is a lot of money for a half marathon.
I found parts of the course very dull, especially the bit between mile 7 and the Greenway. Even though you are running down country lanes, there is nothing of any interest to look at once you've taken in the green fields. I'm just so pleased that I wasn't going to have to do another lap this year!
Also, the finish was very restrictive from the bit where you come off the Greenway onto the road, which was coned off with an area two runners wide to run down. I found myself having to go around the cones to over take slower runners. Then the turn onto the single runner-width footpath a complete bottle neck with no overtaking. This was very, very frustrating as there were people walking in front of me! Once into the park by the river, it was possible to overtake and power on to the finish line. In my opinion, this was one of the worst finishes to a race that I have ever done as you were totally restricted by other people and could not run freely to your own ability.
On the whole, it was an enjoyable, well organised race with a superb medal. I am sure in the future, when I look back on this race, I'll forget the negatives and just remember a nice sunny day in Stratford. I am sure that I'll enter again in the future, especially when my 2010 London Marathon application is rejected, again! And I am sure that I'll moan about the price again in the future too... Date of review: May 5, 2009
In short: excellent marshalls but something not quite right. In full: maybe its just me but there is something wrong here, the marshalls are lovely realy friendly so cant fault them or teh organization (route, drinks etc). the two lap course is a bit of a killer especially as on the second lap youre taken off on a longer lap but you know youre still doing the same circuit realy but longer. the council are obviously unhelpfull making parking for marathon runners impossible with the 6 hour limit in town and enforcing a cut off time for the first lap for traffic, but having lived in stratford I know how self improtant the council think they are and who they rate as important (i.e. ripping off the tourists). fair play to the rotary club for effort but there is something niggling about this one that would stop me doing it again. maybe a different second lap? I dont know, maybe moving it out of the cr*p councils clutches and into somewhere more friendly ? I realy wanted to like this one but although Im glad i did it I just wouldnt do it again sorry. not the fault of the rotary club or the volunteers at all just the atmosphere that stratford council doesnt really want us running through their little town and that ruins it Im afraidm, really sorry :-( Date of review: May 3, 2009
In short: My First Half - I can't fault anything, superbly organised, great scenery and support (and weather!!) In full: What a great experience, superbly organised and supported. I started off at the back and had ample room throughout the run. Particularly enjoyed the Welford on Avon stretch, the scenery is stunning and the hill is a long steady climb with a rewarding view as you rapidly descend. I can imagine the Greenway being a bit tedious when doing the full Marathon, particularly with it being in the final few miles. The sponges at the water stations were an added bonus on a warm day! If I don't make the ballot for London I'm certainly running here in 2010. Date of review: May 3, 2009
In short: ++A warm run out through the warwickshire countryside++ In full: Half Marathon - The weather was beautifully warm and I also appreciated the plentiful supply of water and sponges at regular stations around the course. Good marshalling and clear mile markers helped considerably. The hill was okay and the Greenway did stretch out a bit...but an enjoyable run with a fair mix of people. Date of review: May 1, 2009