In short: May as well have done a training run In full: When I got to the park, there was an almighty queue. I couldn't believe this! This was for baggage drop. Having done VLM I didn't think bag drop was supposed to be a hard thing. Took half an hour to drop mine off. The guys behind me were doing the 10k that started 10 minutes earlier. They were still queuing when the gun went off!
I managed to just about drop my bag off before the start- 8:40, the same pronounced time of death for dad. I needed the loo, but there was a great big q at the portapotties too- often when I need to pee befor a race it's nerves and goes away, so thought I'd chance it, but I had consumed about a litre of fluid in the 90 mins before, so probably would be wise to go.
The race started late! According to my garmin 8:54 is when I crossed the line.
So, by the time I crossed the line I was already grumpy that I'd queued and got cold to drop my bag, I didn't go to the loo, the race started late, and didn't have a chance for a warm up.
I started off at what u thought was a conservative pace, but when I looked down it was in the low 8s... I slowed through the course of the first mile, but was still significantly faster than marathon pace, so I thought why not take this at half marathon pace and see if I can get a good time, after all its a pretty flat course. Mile 2 and I was even faster... Mile 3 and the clouds went away, wow, I was getting hot, but luckily there was a water station. Well there were tables with packs of water bottles piled up behind and no marshals to be seen 'you've gotta be f***ing kidding!, I decided to help the other runners by lifting a case onto the table so at least they didn't ALL have to crouch down. This was the last straw in my mental resolve to go at half marathon pace, as I lost a bit of time again, so I decided I would drop down to mara pace. Miles 4-5 and I was feeling liquid sloshing around- I had to stop to pee- got to the second set of portaloos on the course and stopped to wait- thought it odd with a relatively small field that there would be a queue. A girl standing there said she hadn't seen anyone come out of them- someone else was asking the marshal and we quickly deduced they were all LOCKED! Seriously, could anything else go wrong with this race?
I decided that I would hold it in a bit longer and hopefully I would be able to go when I passed on the way back. Luckily I could, and well, there was a lot of liquid, so glad I did go, and I don't think it lost me too much time.
After this I got a new wind and thought I would do another 3 miles at half pace, but it got so hot I just couldn't cope at that speed, and to add insult to injury, I started to get chaffing between my legs. I thought I'd seen St. John's ambulance, my next focus was to find Vaseline.... Clearly I had been spoilt by London marathon again, expecting this... Alas it was nowhere to be seen. The pain of the chafe brought me to a walk several times.
Crossed the finish in 2:05:33 according to the results. Got my medal and a mini bottle of water and a banana, and YAY another 30 minute queue for my bag! Nightmare!
It was clear that the vast majority of people organising the race were not runners, and I can only assume they all showed up late for their duties - I guess they did the best they could, but I would strongly urge the organisers to put in some proper training of volunteers, and clear instructions. It really ruins a race when you have to waste an extra hour at the start/end for baggage, and u lose time during because water stations are unmanned.
In short: Challenging course & poorly organised, but certainly friendly In full: Let's start with my expectations - for £20 and a new half marathon, I wasn't expecting much.
The good - easy to get to, plentiful water & toilet stops, good support, good goodie bag, and friendly marshalls
The bad - a two lap course is always going to be mentally challenging (especially when 10k runners share the narrow pathways) and the scenery out in West Ham/Stratford is never pretty but did they SERIOUSLY have to run the course over a freaking sewage treatment plant to rub our noses in it??!
There were multiple out & back sections which allowed me to high-five multiple friends running this, but got very tiresome on the second lap ("good god, where is that Bow roundabout?")
The marshalls weren't effective at stopping cheating half marathon runners from cutting the course short at the 10k race turnaround, which just makes me sad for the state of the people cheating, frankly. A chip checkpoint at the half marathon turning point could've easily solved this (there were others along the routes).
The bag drop - good god this was the worst organised one I've ever seen! One enormous (1hr+ for some people) queue to drop it off (instead of, say, a separate queue for each start zone) made a lot of people actually miss the start. There's no reason for this, as each of us already had a numbered tag on our bags and just needed to drop it off. Likewise, on collection there was no rhyme or reason for where the bags were placed, so many of us were invited to just come and root around for ours. Hardly secure.
I'm really hoping that the organisers will improve this in future years, though. Fingers crossed they'll do away with the double laps and route it through the Olympic Park when it reopens, and train their bag drop staff better. Even though the 10 race has been going for 5 years, I think they were caught out by the huge increase in participants the half marathon brought. I, for one, would pay a tenner more for a better route and organization! Date of review: April 17, 2013
In short: Poor organisation let down this 5th anniversary In full: I've enjoyed running the Newham 10K (2011, 2012) so was really looking forward to the inaugural 1/2 marathon. Arrived to see the same diverse mix of runners. That was a good start. My raceday went downhill from there.
Long baggage queues which impacted the race start. Race start was confusing - hard to find the pens, no announcement regarding the delayed start.
I was not a fan of the course - switchbacks, multi-laps, very narrow in places. Was I being lapped? Was I lapping others? Personally, I prefer mile markers for this race distance but given the wind on the day, you couldn't see the km markers anyways as they had fallen over! Luckily I run with a garmin so knew where I was in the race but doubt everyone did. And I think the how the course split between the 10k and 1/2 race could have been managed better. I wasn't entirely sure what was being shouted at me by the marshalls at this split so just hoped for the best, luckily I went the correct way but did everyone?
Having to pull out the water bottles from the packets yourself is never good at water stations. These stations did not seem to be adequately manned and some seemed to run out of water (not good on such a warm day).
Baggage queue at the end was even longer than that at the start. Lots of confusion in locating bags. Luckily mine was found.
I would have preferred to get changed out of my running gear into fresh clothes. The lack of a changing area made this impossible. Very disappointing especially as I suspect most of us commuted by public transport - never nice being next to a sweaty person on the tube!
Pros - the tshirt was good quality, bananas given out at the end, very flat course, name on our race numbers, support from local running club Run Dem Crew.
Final point - shame the organisation was so bad. Such a contrast to other good 1/2's I've done this year (Tunbridge Wells, Hastings, Croydon). I hope they improve if they want to make this 1/2 an annual event. If they do not, I doubt many runners will comeback as there are plenty of good other 1/2's out there. Date of review: April 16, 2013
In short: My first half, enjoyed it, would do it again, organisation not great but it was the first time the event had involved a half so I think there is definitely potential for improvement next year In full: cons: - really long baggage queue, was grateful I didn't have to queue - water bottles weren't made available fast enough - took a long time for course map to be available (but i understand this is due to getting permission to close roads) - would be nice to have results in order of net time as well as gun time
pros: - enjoyable course - i liked that there were km markers as it is what i am used to working with in training - nice t shirt
as my first half marathon, i was pleased with it. i also think that yes it was disorganised this time round, but it was the first time there had been a half marathon as part of the event, so i think that now it has been held once, next year will be a lot better organised. i will enter next year.
In short: abysmal organisation In full: A race I can walk to? Great! A race which was this badly organised? Embarrassing and potentially dangerous. I look forward to this year's apology from the organisers which presumably will also become an annual event. Date of review: April 15, 2013
In short: Shocking Organisation In full: The organisation was so poor it made me laugh. Fortunately my family came to watch me so they looked after my things so I only witnessed the baggage drama. After the event when I left West Ham Park the baggage queue was over 200 metres long. Most runners plan pre race hydration based on the start time so they don't need the loo after a few miles. If the race is delayed by 20 minutes then you're in trouble, so for any Half to start this late is unforgivable.
When it started things didn't improve. After 3k (yes k, the race was for some reson measured in kilometres) I was gently running along trying to settle into my race pace when I looked up and the leader of the 10k was coming towards me without any warning from the marshalls.
At the first water point the bottles of water were still in their boxes behind an unmanned table. At that point I just laughed, the organisers didn't just make a few minor errors they failed at the basic planning. The baggage drop off, the start time, the seperation of runners, manning the first water station.
Organisation aside I rather enjoyed running around East London. After the first water station I gave up thinking that it was a major event, relaxed and took it for what it was. If they're planning on holding this event again next year they need to buy in some expertise or at least go to Tunbridge Wells in February and watch closely how they manage it so successfully each year. Date of review: April 15, 2013
In short: Absolute shambles In full: I don’t like to be negative about smaller races, as I appreciate the effort involved in organising. However, I’m afraid it’s impossible to find any positives on this occasion. The East London half was, hands down, the most poorly organised race I’ve ever taken part in. Where do I start? Well, here goes- we arrived at 7.30am, to discover that out of 30 portaloos only ONE was unlocked, resulting in an enormous queue. After 15 minutes someone managed to locate a marshall and ask for the rest to be unlocked. Next up, the baggage ‘queue’. I say queue, but there was no organisation to the system whatsoever. Subsequently the line snaked all over the field, resulting in many people pushing in. The queue moved at a snail’s pace due to the total lack of enthusiasm/organisation/speed of the marshalls taking the bags. This meant that many people were still queuing when the race began. I’m sorry, but this is just unacceptable. Something as basic as this is easily avoided with a bit of common sense. Once bags were handed in there were no instructions of where to wait in the ‘zones’, the start line was barely visible and the marshalls gave little instructions. Once the race eventually began, I can only say the course was awful. Uninspiring, dull and quite confusing given the twists/turns and repetition. After a few miles it was almost impossible to tell whether people you were passing in the opposite direction were ahead or behind. The distance markers were a joke. To not have mile markers in a half-marathon was ridiculous and the KM ones made no sense. They were often on the wrong side of the course and again, it was impossible to tell which lap they referred to given that the wind blew the flags making the numbers barely visible. Was I at 6km on the first lap, or was it marking 16km for the second lap? Who knows. I mean, flags for distance markers? Really? I gave up on them in the end. My boyfriend was doing the 10KM. He is a fast runner and at the front of the field he said there was no one to tell them where to go in the first couple of miles and a group of them actually went off in the wrong direction. Whilst the water stations were frequent, the first one I came to after a couple of miles had no marshalls on it, and the water was still in boxes behind the table! Absolutely shocking, especially given the temperature on the day. After completing the race, the queue for baggage again was awful. Frankly, the marshalls looked like they couldn’t be bothered. The bags had not been arranged in number order (seriously). In the end most people went into the baggage area to collect their own bags. No marshalls stopped them, to be honest they looked relieved at having less work to do. To top off this shambles of an event, the race results are listed in gun time rather than net, meaning it’s impossible to tell your finish position! Come on guys, that’s basic. Lastly, (and I’m sorry but was just too much) they have listed my age as 30 when I’m in fact 29. How hard is it read a form? The only positive is that I achieved a PB by 3 minutes, but frankly that is down to my efforts and not the organisers. I absolutely will not be returning next year.
In short: Potentially solid race but needs to organisation sorting out In full: This could be a solid race - nice steady course, good mix of runners, well supported especially at the end.
But as others say it really needs to step up the organisation. Notably:
- Huge queues for bag drop at start and end - No PA system at the start and no information about when we might start (we started 20 mins late) - At least 1 water station was unmanned so runners had to stop to get water out of packs themselves - I saw 1 Marshal sending runners the wrong way down a very busy main road
These organisation things should be fixable. If they do that this would be a solid race. Date of review: April 15, 2013