In short: Faultless. Blueprint for how to organise a road race. In full: 5th time in this race (maybe sixth) even. I love events that are put on by running clubs, over the pricey commercial alternatives (eg, bands, mass aerobic warm-ups etc). All the important logistics make it run like clockwork from an army of volunteers who did a great job. Shame the MOD are such penny-pinching w******s that they charge for their empty land, meaning the organisers are forced to charge for parking. Can't believe people are so keen for medals when they offer a nice memento regardless. Just don't understand why grown-ups get so animated about medals. Baffling!! Date of review: February 15, 2015
In short: Good, but needs to address a few areas In full: As a nearby resident, I didn't have any problems with toilet queues as I could just jog to the start from home. Nor as a regular runner am I bothered with goody bags, medals, t-shirts or other post race offerings. tbh I'd rather have none of them and pay less, but appreciate that some runners take those things quite seriously! Likewise, I didn't take any drinks so no issues there. A start line, finish line, accurately measured course, and an exact time are all your really need; so it must be frustrating for organisers who have entrants who are expecting the London marathon at every local race for a cheap entry fee. Overall I think Tom and his team did a fine job, but can I suggest a couple of areas to look at for next year from a quicker runner.
Being in the top 10 throughout, we caught the back of the 10k after only 3 miles. Too many were running several abreast, wearing headphones, unaware of half marathoners coming through etc. Not sure how to resolve, but many of these would be beginners without much idea on race etiquette. Some form of pre-briefing to run on the left would have been useful, or signs up on the course to beware of runners coming through from behind (for their own safety as much as our convenience). Some "Caution Runners" signs would have been useful too for the public as they towpath was pretty cluttered at times. I hurdled several dogs and had to dodge a few bikes at times.
Miles 11-12 were run against the flow of runners who were still at miles 6-7. They simply weren't informed/advised to keep to the right (or there were just to many of them), which meant that the lead runners were constantly getting hit or having to jump into the bushes. I collided unintentionally with about half a dozen runners who were either not aware, not looking, or were zoned out in iPod world. I realise marshals are voluntary and give their time freely (I have done the job many times, so appreciate their efforts hugely), but they must be briefed to warn runners about the oncoming contraflow of runners. Either the route needs amending, or the segregation of runners going in both directions needs to be better. On a shared towpath, a no iPod rule really should be considered.
I knew the route, but as I was running alone without any other runner in sight most of the race, there were points where it wasn't obvious which way to go. I understand one of the leaders turned left at mile 11, rather than right, and basically ran himself out of a podium finish. There was nobody at that junction telling me which way to go; I only knew as I know the course well from training locally. Similarly at mile 12, there was no indication that I should turn right off the towpath, and I heard nothing from any marshal; luckily again I knew the route but would have carried straight on if I wasn't a local.
These are only small points from my own point of view and may not have affected many others, but hopefully they can be addressed for future editions. I'm sure I will run this again. Date of review: September 22, 2014
In short: Well organised club event on a challenging course. In full: Quite hilly which in itself makes PBs unlikely, but brutally exposed to the wind this year which made for a tough challenge. But like all good club run events, this was a well-organised race put on by an efficient team who knew what they were doing. Marshals were plentiful and good natured despite the hurricane conditions. Nice little touches like calling out the halfway times/positions and announcing finishers by name & club. Finish line staff were busy running round offering to fetch drinks & choc bars which was fab. Prizes were generous too for the size of the race. A good spring test to be commended and recommended. Date of review: February 12, 2014
In short: Great event - tough but manageable at all levels In full: Don't go expecting PB's, but you can expect a great day out with some challenging hills and superb views.
Just one suggestion though (and this goes to all race directors where you have different races running alongside each other). Can the relay runners not wear a number ON THEIR BACK to indicate which race they are in? I guess most won't care, but I was running in the top 10 on the fringe of the prizes and would have been really useful to know which of the long line of runners in front, during the final 10k particularly, were in the same race as me, and which were relay runners. Suppose you should just run as fast as you can, but it turns out that I missed a prize by less than a minute. Same applies in marathons with a half or relay alongside; can be annoying to race someone then they just peel away or stop mid-race.
Minor point on an otherwise great race I'll definitely do again. Date of review: June 10, 2013
In short: Nice race, slick organisation, well done WG&EL In full: A bit undulating with a few uneven pavement sections, but overall I really enjoyed my first run here since 2003 and it still doesn't disappoint.
Lots of marshalls covering the road crossings, but inevitably having so many side roads and driveways there are still motorists to contend with as the roads aren't closed. I had to swerve several times to avoid collisions, but no damage done.
Great use of the running track (always nice to finish on a track), although this meant that finish line was about 500m away from the 13 mile marker which was a surprise having finished on the driveway on my previous visit.
Only suggestion I'd make is to try and find a date that doesn't clash with so many other big half marathons in the south of England, as this will have affected entry numbers, and the race deserves a bigger field. Date of review: March 4, 2013
In short: Organised by runners for runners - and you can tell. Excellent. In full: An excellent well-organised race that's worth the trip from London every year. You can tell a race that's organised by a running club - all the details are considered and the enthusiasm of the marshalls is superb. Signage, traffic management, pre- and post-race admin all flawless.
A bargain at £14 too. Why people shell out £50 for some event company organised events over even shorter distances (Great Run series, particularly the GSR, I'm thinking of you!) is a mystery when there are gems like this around. Well done Gosport Road Runners. First class. Date of review: November 18, 2012
In short: Horribly corporate feel. Far too expensive. In full: Easy to tell that this is an event organised by an events company for profit, rather than by runners. No real understanding of the elements that make for a good race. In fact, it is not a race; it is a mass participation event. There is no focus on the winners, the prizes or the times.
One example is the insistence that everyone runs in the official t-shirt. All this does is suck the individuality out of the race and turn it into one big advert for the sponsor. The crowd are such a big part of making the atmosphere in a race, but by uniforming the runners it makes it very hard to cheer for any individual by running club, name, charity etc since everyone looks the same.
The Great Run series is very similar in the heavy marketing budget that enables them to target far more beginners than regular runners. Encouraging newcomers to the sport is undeniably a good thing, but it's such a shame the masses are unaware that there are many smaller and better organised events organised by running clubs, which offer significantly better value for money. Date of review: October 31, 2012
In short: First class - particularly for a race in its first year In full: Really impressed with all aspects of this race. Ran like clockwork from arrival to final departure. All the small things considered, and runners catered for at every level.
I was with the official pacers & we all had a great experience. Some really kind & positive feedback from many participants. Hope to be able to support this race again in 2013. Even the weather was on side today! Date of review: September 30, 2012
In short: Functional training run - needs a couple of tweaks In full: This race doesn't really advertise itself as anything more than a paced training run, mostly for those doing spring marathons. In that regard it delivers what it promises.
The main constructive tweak this needs is that with multiple laps, quicker runners (anyone under 1.45) will be lapping slower runners and there needs to be some instruction as to how to avoid holding up fellow runners.
Very simply, the organisers could instruct all runners who are likely to be lapped to run on the right hand side, or even cone off an overtaking lane. Due to the pacers, big groups of runners formed and were difficult to pass. The decision to allow headphones & iPods meant that runners were unaware of quicker guys coming up behind them.
To be fair, some of the pacers were actually shouting at their groups to move out of the way, but with no protocol in place they didn't know which way to move, left or right. A simple note in the race instructions or more vocal marshals would solve this problem. Or else go back to staggered starts.
Oh, and the wind ruined any chance of a PB, but don't know who to blame for that! Date of review: February 19, 2012
In short: Good race - wrong distance In full: I spectated, but talked to many runners at the end who all measured the course at around 13.5 miles.
It always seems to be that races organised by clubs & runners tend to be more accurate over these things than those organised by charities or events companies. The latter must realise that getting the distance right is the most important element of the whole race. Try advertising it next year as a 13.5 mile half marathon and see how many entries you get.
There are people and organisations who can measure race courses properly. Suggest you look them up. I felt very sorry for all those runners who missed out on PBs due to the extra distance; that's thousands of miles of training that have gone to waste for many. Please don't make the mistake of thinking this is a trivial point, or runners will vote with their feet in future years. Date of review: February 19, 2012