In short: Sounded good in theory but a complete shambles in practice. Organisers say they plan to have a similar event next year. Given the amount of negative press this year's event has attracted, they'd be better off not thinking about it! Date of review: November 9, 2012
In short: Gunpowder Plop. In full: This was a good idea, very poorly executed. It started a full 55 minutes late which for just a 5km race with only 1,500 competitors is completely unacceptable.
The registration desk was a complete farce, people were queing and queing only to reach the front and be told to go and check a board, in the dark, that had the running numbers on, meaning that the queues took twice as long becuase effectively eveyone queued twice. Quite why the race numbers weren't printed on the registration forms like every other race ever organised is beyond me.
The fireworks display after was delayed for ages, the queues for everything (including picking up medals) were enormous and spectators couldn't stand anywhere near the route to cheer us on.
It's sad because so many of the local community came out to support this event and it could have been a great annual event, but everyone, runners and spectators alike was let down. Avoid.
In short: Bad organisation on the day In full: Like other reviewers I have taken part in Rat Race events in the past and had no problems with them. Pre day information was good and there was a warning to get there early, obviously ignored by many. I got there at 4.30pm for a 6.30 race and the light was already dimming so it was lucky I had a head torch to see my name and number and complete my health declaration. The tent where you collected your number had no light and in addition to the race envelope I was presented with a sparkler, wow! No not really, but no explanation as to light it during the run or what to do with it - no rude suggestions please. I found the heated - not - changing tent that also doubled for an insecure bag drop with a high risk of theft so my bag went to the beer tent with my wife. We sat in the tent until the scheduled warm up time of 6.15pm. I made my way down to the tented area to find it had been delayed by a quarter of an hour. In fact the race did not start for over 50 minutes by which time I was very cold and the tarmac path we ran on was also getting slippery with the frost. There was one section where there was about an inch thick layer of earth over the tarmac but as this was not lit you only became aware of it when you tripped on it. Once started I enjoyed the run and rejoined my wife in the beer tent. By this time there was a 50 yard queue to get in and I was so pleased that I had chosen to buy a pint of Gunpowder Grog before the race so it was ready for me when I got back or I fear I maybe waiting even now. Overall I found some of the marshalls very supportive but found the organisers at the start uncommunicative as to when we would actually start. I felt sorry for the ground staff who got moaned at by racers and event goers alike who felt it was their fault. The e-mail the next day from Rat Race faced up to the issues and the offer of 50% off a future event will be taken up but not at York Date of review: November 7, 2012
In short: A good idea, but executed so poorly that it verged on dangerously incompetant. In full: Having entered several Rat Race events previously I had expected a slick, smooth-running operation. Having entered numerous York parkruns (which are excellent by the way) I was somewhat dubious about the logistics of squeezing over 1000 participants onto a course that usually accommodates a tenth of that.
The staff were aggressive, rude and ill-informed. On entering the gate we were directed to the queue for registration. It was only by chance that I spotted the single board of race numbers, and the scrum of runners surrounding it. Many people had reached the front of the queue only to be told they needed to get their race number elsewhere and had no choice but to queue again. The poor management of registration was the direct cause of the delays mentioned by other reviewers.
As for the delays, my watch has the race starting 53 minutes late. Once the event organisers were ready, the ~1500 runners were walked round to the start-line ~1 mile from the main stage. As you can imagine, this is not a quick task, and it being a November evening several runners mentioned the delay in the cold to the stewards marshalling the start line only to be told "that's your problem".
For the run itself, I loved the concept. Their previous nightruns worked very well. This did not. The course was flat tarmac ~3m wide, but with very boggy and rutted land just off-road. Prime ankle-snapping terrain. The appalling organisation of the start was ironically the event's saving grace, and I genuinely believe this was the only reason I did not see any serious injuries. The fastest runners were not able to run at top speed as they were stuck in the pack, and as such, the danger of collisions when they would have needed to lap the back-markers was reduced. Using a course that required an extra half-lap, with such a large number of runners, at night with poor illumination, was a very dangerous error.
Rat Race's own event compare billed this as a "unique running experience". I have to whole-heartedly agree with him. Except that their method of ensuring the event was unique was to rid themselves of that silly competency thing smaller races offer.
This was a truly awful event. Date of review: November 7, 2012
In short: Badly organised to the point of being dangerous, and didn't live up to the hype. In full: Arrived with half an hour to spare, knowing we'd left it too late though our taxi hadn't turned up. Thought we'd be rushing stragglers, but found ourselves in a queue of hundreds waiting to reach a tent. Only found out, through another runner, that we were in the wrong queue and had to find out our race numbers first - from an A4 piece of paper on an unlit board, with size ten font and hundreds of people crowding around. Then, had to fight through crowds to get to a small table to sign a disclaimer form, before starting again in the first queue to get our numbers and chips. Nobody around to organise or explain, crushing crowds that could have easily become dangerous, and a resulting delay of almost an hour for the run to begin.
Considering the event had promised an incredible pyrotechnic show, live entertainment and fireworks on the way around, a few small light and fire installations left a lot to be desired. They were certainly enough to distract, but the event had been promoted as so much more.
The track itself was fine. Flat, smooth and solid. For a slow runner like myself, it was perfect, but for fast runners it caused trouble. No room to overtake the slower people, which left people moving off the track and slipping on mud. The track itself was narrow, and 1500 runners were sent off at once, rather than in waves, so anyone faster than my speed (40 minute 5k) would have been held up and had no chance of getting a PB. I did.
For spectators, there was apparently no sign of when runners had started or were coming in to finish. The promised firework display was fine, but after queuing for an hour to find out that food had sold out we left before the live music as we were simply too cold, hungry and stressed to stay any longer.
Would not do this again, and have been put off other Rat Race events as this was my first Rat Race experience and was a disappointment. Date of review: November 6, 2012
In short: An overpriced shambles In full: When I got home today, there was an e-mail from Rat Race explaining what had gone wrong. Having done the Survival of the Fittest in Manchester the previous Saturday where there were no problems, I was expecting something better from supposedly professional event organisers. Perhaps they couldn't help people without tickets getting into the firing area but if this was York's first fireworks display for 17 years, surely this could have been anticipated. The annoying thing is that it's a fast, flat course or perhaps I just went off fast in an attempt to thaw out. If you're going to have a night race perhaps illuminating the signs for registration and changing would help? I entered when the event was first announced but my name was not on the list so I had to join another queue. So fed up, I didn't bother waiting for the fireworks but luckily found an excellent chippy for a delayed tea. This has made me question doing any other Rat Race events. We were lucky it was dry, imagine waiting for registration to be completed if it had been wet and windy. Date of review: November 6, 2012
In short: Big build up, Even bigger let down!!! In full: O.K Runners have heated tents to change in - if body heat counts they ticked that box! Race starts at 6.30 runners are stripped and ready for warm up at 6.15 - poor planning meant registration was still going on and the race was delayed till 7pm (poor communication with racers), I'm getting very cold now! Then we were walked to the start where we stood getting even colder waiting for the stragglers to arrive before going. By this time my feet despite 2 pairs of socks where like ice blocks any prospect of a good grit your teeth 5k was gone! Pyrotechnics at every Km not really just flames not much music during the run pretty poor and certainly not as advertising had you believe. I know there are safety issues but even a couple of Cathrine wheels would have made a difference (yeah it was that bad). Delayed race meant delayed fire works, spectaculars were scheduled for 8 but went after 9pm since they had to remove people from the firing area- pretty poor security! Hence my £25 got me a miss advertised run and a view of a few fireworks walking back to the car as I had to leave. Not impressed if the fireworks had been advertised as 9 I would not have paid for the event as I new I had to leave at that time for transport. I will certainly not do a rat race again. Ques for bar and food where horrendous they let too many in for the facilities they had, had the race not been delayed then it may not have been as bad as they would have had two cohorts of ques instead of one very long one. Due to the delayed race runners also missed out on some of the stage schedule and the Guy Fawkes talk. Date of review: November 6, 2012
In short: About as well organised as Guy Fawkes' plans on the original bonfire night! In full: A run in the dark accompanied by pyrotechnics is a fab idea, and the run itself was great. It was let down however by the appalling organisation around the registration which resulted in the start being delayed by almost an hour and all the runner slowly freezing. This, together with the high cost, would put me off entering again. Date of review: November 6, 2012
In short: The delay in starting took the gloss of the event In full: This event was unusual in that it was run in the dark and was associated with a funfair and firework display. Unfortunately for reasons unknown the start of the race was delayed for approximately 60 minutes which was not pleasant in the cold night air.Surely if folk wish to attend these evening events they should allow plenty of time to make the journey and register etc. The route was on a path around York race track and was congested - however this is not a gripe as it was a fun event and everyone ( when started ) appeared to enjoy the experience. Further delays occurred at the finish with runners having to wait 20 minutes to collect their medals and chocky. The above apart , the event was enjoyable and the medal and technical t-shirt were above average and well worth collecting. I am sure that if this event is run again next year the problems addressed above will be sorted by the organisers Date of review: November 6, 2012