I think when your'e assessing races as to good value or not, you need to consider whose organising them. If its a charity, like the Brentwood Half, then its very expensive for a tinny(tiny) medal, so I vote with my feet, or rather my feet don't participate at all! But, good luck to them, they get oversubscribed and its a very popular race, and I presume they raise a lot of money, which is the primary aim of that event.
If its a running club organising then perhaps its fairer to assess them as good bad or indifferent value as all they should be doing is covering their costs and any surplus they could then use as a charitable donation if so desired.
As regards the best value runs then I think the North Downs 30K is right up there, but by far the best value of all is the Essex Way; you may get nada at the finish, but its free to enter and a great day out
Advice as to what shoe is best for someone else is almost impossible. As a runner for some 20+years I have gone from HiTec, Brooks, Asics, Saucony, Mizuno and Decathlon, with variations back and forth over the years. The only constant is I buy neutral/cushioned shoes as I'm a fairly light, easy runner.
Basically you may need to go back to the running shop, get you're gait/style assessed and then buy what you hope will be the shoes that suit you best. If they're a success, THEN you can look for the cheaper option on the net to replace them, as and when.
Bear in mind though that the sports firms size differently, so an Asics size 10 may be a Saucony 9, try before you buy is the motto, esp when ordering over the net.
All this wittering on about GFA and entry criteria, while amusing enough, misses the whole point of the London Marathon - Its a CHARITY EVENT, where you raise as much money as possible, the only downside being you have to "run" 26.2 miles.
Its not for runners, its to raise money, and if you don't like that - go and run a proper marathon, organised by runners - just look at the reviews for the Halstead Marathon and you'll see how a run for runners should be organised - but not too many of you please!
Interesting forum and all you sufferers have my sympathy; we runners tend to think we're invulnerable until we get injured and then that we'll never be able to run again.
The general tone seems to be nothing much works, and this may be true, in its very name Plantar Fascitis, it states the problem, this is inflammation of the plantar fascia, which is why anti-inflammatories like Ibuleve can give short term relief, but may not cure the problem.
The best cure may be simply rest from running until the condition settles down, which, of course, is what we runners won't do! We look for a treatment that will stop the symptoms while we continue to train, which may be why most treatments fail and the condition lingers for so long!
As a TCM Acupuncturist I have treated PF both on myself and other runners, usually 1 session, or at most, maximum 5, and problem is solved, though nothing is guaranteed of course.
Is a technique using a TENS machine on fluctuating wave length on two points, Bladder 57(or 58) and Kidney 3, after obtaining qi on both needles. Patient should feel a vibrating/tingling effect, not where the needles are but under the heel at the sight of the PF pain, and then this should last at least 1/2 an hour to an hour, the longer the better!
I appreciate this is not much use unless you know a good Acupuncturist but any BAcC registered one should be able to replicate this treatment - whether they will do so of course depends on their ego and how good they are with a TENS machine. I would probabaly avoid drop in centres unless you have no money worries (they may recommend a course plus herbal medicine costing a lot), and if you get no appreciable change in your pain levels further treatments may have no more effect than the first!
Fraid I have to agree with those who say, don't like the system, don't do the race! But if you really want to run it you can, won't tell you how but I think I'm up to 18 Londons now and at least 5 were legit incl a couple of GFA, the rest........ But that's it, by now I hate the bloody race, there are so many fantastic runs out there, for RUNNERS, why bother with all the crap that goes with the London? And if people look blankly at when you say you did the Halstead, so what!