In short: Overly commercial at the runners expense In full: This was my fifth long distance race and I have enjoyed them all up until this one. I think that London runs are a great idea and there should definitely be more of them, but please could the organisers learn from Hackney's mistakes:
1) On one of the hottest days, they ran out of water for everyone running over 2.15hrs, lots of people became unwell because of this, also saw people pleading with local shop owners and going through discarded bottles.
2) Not enough water stations. My first issue would not have been so bad had the organisers not also cut right down on distribution points.
3) On site organisation. It felt as though the race village was planned out to stall large groups of people, rather than improve efficiency.
4) Zero shade for runners, before, during and most importantly after the race. The venue needed a facility to buy suncream and hats if they didn't want to spend extra on this.
5) I enjoyed the scenery in the first few miles and perhaps it was structured this way so that crowds could see happy, determined faces. But towards the end runners were crammed into a demoralising concrete scrum away from all of the crowds and the excitement of the residents.
6) If you are going to promote a race mainly on account of its greenery and space, at least some major part of the run needs to actually be though a park etc.
Overall I felt that the race would have been much more enjoyable if the organisers had spend less on promotional work and more on the runner experience. Date of review: July 2, 2014
In short: A good first race, but improvements should be made for next year In full: We live in East London and know the area fairly well, so were looking forward to running closed roads; that was great. Saw things that we hadn't seen before. Great starting on Hackney Marshes and the support along the route really was enervating. The volunteers (mostly youngsters) should also be congratulated; brilliant effort.
There are things that could and should be improved for next year (having seen other comments, I'm not pulling up any new trees with these): 1. Miles 10-12 around Olympic Park; doubling back, no shade, little water. Very dispiriting. 2. Lots of loos at the start, but seemed as if only 40% contained loo roll (at 07.30 onwards!). We always take our own to races, but lots don't. 3. Allocated pens need to be sorted out for the start. The thick end of 10,000 people can't and shouldn't be relied upon to find their own way to the time slots (which was impossible anyway due to the crush) 4. Water stops both sides of the route to prevent crushes/ stop-start. Been said elsewhere 5. Goody bag was a bit underwhelming. Nice medal, sure, but a technical (or even non-tech_ t-shirt would have been a really nice momento, as the entrance fee wasn't that cheap. 6. At one point, a car drove onto the route with a family with an abusive driver. Lots of fellow runers had a go, but stewarding needed to be a bit stronger there, as he drove about 1/2 mile amongst runners before turning off the course! 6. There were some queues for bag-collecting and massage (a massive queue!), but that didn't really impact me.
All considered, a good first attempt and the course could be a real PB'er (not many hills).
In short: great day and enjoyable but for last 3 miles In full: this was my first half marathon so I was a bit nervous. well I really enjoyed the atmosphere from the start and the turn from both runners and watchers was great. my only problem with the whole thing was the last 3 miles and I know other people have mentioned it but for someone on there first 13 miler the last 3 are hard enough anyway without making you run past people 2 miles ahead and letting you burn to death with no water to be seen apart from the river you are running over. please change that bit for next year because I will definitely be back next year to race this enjoyable run. Date of review: June 25, 2014
In short: Great race In full: Great to see Hackney organizing a running event, I had no problems with water and was impressed with the overall experience. Locals giving out water and cooling runners with water hoses just show you how they embraced the race. Maybe they could try and get Overland to start running a bit earlier for the event next year as it was a struggle to get there on time to start. Also first aid staff had no Vaseline to hand and in that temperature it was a must have, I would suggest a big pot at the water stations next year.
In short: Excellent for a first-time event with great support In full: Well done to the organisers for getting such a huge event off the ground. The organisation was excellent, especially at the start, and the atmosphere was great both there and round the course.
A few small things to work on for next year, most of which have been mentioned elsewhere: 1. More access points to specific starting pens 2. Water pouches - great in principle, and have used them successfully before, but these ones seemed particularly hard to get into. I had a couple I couldn't open at all and another which exploded (which at least gave me a cooling shower). 3. Plenty of parking at Westfield as advertised, but it was hard to find the way out (more signage?) and the walk was more like 30 than 20 mins so might have been a problem if running late 4. Course was mostly very enjoyable, but all those switchbacks in the last 2-3 miles were a bit dispiriting. 5. For some reason the baggage drop for low numbers (0-1,000) had long queues both at drop-off and pick-up, whereas others seemed to be moving more freely.
All just minor teething problems though. Well done and thanks to all the marshalls who gave up their Sunday morning and were so cheerful and encouraging. Date of review: June 25, 2014
In short: Decent first effort In full: Good points: Having a half marathon in reasonably easy reach of tube stations, excellent first 10 miles and a nice finishing area in Hackney Marshes. Good atmosphere from the locals.
Bad points: poorly organised water stations (need more and on both sides of the road), idiosyncratic mile markers, undisciplined starting pens, super-tedious last few miles, with no good use made of the rather over-sold attractions of the Olympic park. Date of review: June 24, 2014
In short: Up to Mile 10 Spot On! In full: Up to mile 10 I couldnt really fault this event, water and toilets on route, clear signs etc, from mile 10 it was horrific, almost as if they gave up at that point and thought its only the last three miles.
I live in Hackney and there is a nice 3 mile loop out of the park and around hackney marshes through the shade of the tree line to finish would have been much more preferable than enduring a water less two miles of zig zagging around the park watching people falling to dehydration with every step.
Next time ship in loads more water or start with that 3 miles, or change the route to run out the back and through the tree line in case of shade...it was a great race but that could be improved as the end was so disappointing. Date of review: June 24, 2014
In short: Not bad for a first attempt! In full: Toilets available at the start (lots of them but still huge queues!), but not nearly enough over the course. Baggage bays seemed really efficient, and race village had a really good atmosphere. The pens at the start were a joke however, as they were too crowded and near impossible for people to get the the right area. The roads were wide and there were very few bottle necks, except for around the water stations which were badly spaced and only on one side of the road causing mayhem when trying to grab a pouch of water. The pouches themselves were interesting. I liked the idea of them, but found them difficult to use, and I couldn't get much water out of one of them. The water I did get went straight up my nose! The mile markers were off by a huge amount....the last 0.1 mile was nearly half a mile! For the price I would have wanted a t-shirt, but the medals were really nice! Seeing as they were charging for the t-shirts, I think they missed a trick by not selling them in the race village. Overall, it was a nice run, the scenery could have been better, but the Hackney residents and the steel band playing were great! Would do it again, but would hope for better organisation. Date of review: June 24, 2014
In short: Great atmosphere but needs ironing out In full: This was the inaugural race so bound to be some teething problems, but it was still a good race. Location was good - plenty of space on the Hackney Marshes, although a bit of a trek from the train station. Wasn't a 20 minute walk from Stratford – it was further than expected and many people were in a bit of a rush! However the race then started late, not sure why this was. I didn’t use the baggage drop or loos, but hear the queues were very long. The route was lined with supporters, so made for a great atmosphere. It was fairly flat – some undulations but nothing steep or long. A few boring out and back sections in the Olympic park – would have been nicer to do a good loop round the site. Most of the run was through neighbourhoods, with only a very small part where you actually felt like you were in London/the Olympic park. It was incredibly hot, and a lot of people fainted/pull out, but there seemed to be good medical arrangements in place. Could have done with at least 1, maybe 2, more water stations, and the energy drink station needed to be much earlier on, around 6-7 miles, not at 11 or 12! Would have been nice if they’d had 2 energy stations (with gels) and these to be additional to – not in the same place as – the water stations. The best part was having residents get their hoses out and cooling off the runners, and I saw some supporters even handing out extra water which they had bought/arranged themselves! However that was down to the supports, not the organisers! The mile markers were off – I missed the 7 miler, and then the 8 and 9 (I think) seemed very close together. Normally there is some variation from my Garmin, but I certainly can’t run a 5 minute mile which apparently I did then! The 13 mi marker was way too early – so not nice for anyone who tried for a sprint finish at that point, and realised there was another quarter of a mile to go!! The goody bag was as expected, it had food and drink (water, some sugary fruit drink, energy bar, nuts, dried fruit and a banana), which is really what you need. The rest was leaflets. No tee-shirt. The medal was quite nice. Last but not least, it was an expensive race, I’m not sure what exactly justified the high cost, perhaps the closure of London roads? (Or the huge marketing/advertising plan!). All in all pretty good for an inaugural race, but not perfect - hopefully next year they will sort out the mile markers and water and make runners feel like we got better value for money. Will probably do it again next year, always good to run in London. Date of review: June 24, 2014