In short: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly In full: Felt a bit let down by this year's event unfortunately. I enjoyed this marathon (my first) so much last year that I entered it this year at the first opportunity and waxed lyrical about it to various friends, citing it as an 'ideal first marathon' and encouraging them to enter too if they were considering a first marathon. Some of them did enter it on the basis of the recommondation and it's to their great credit that they each not only finished very well (considering the heat of the day and other 'challenging' factors) but still took the positives from the day, of which there were also many and didn't allow the negatives to spoil their overall experience.
The 'ugly' of course was the lack of water fiasco. Frankly skeptical about the theft part but plenty has been said about it already, let's just hope that next year sees a huge improvement there.
The 'bad': Irritating DJ/announcer at start and finish (totally agree with the person who mentioned the elite loos situation - was glad I ignored the announcer and stayed in the loo queue, still had plenty of time hanging around waiting for the start afterwards ... who wants to start a full marathon desperately needing the loo when there's more than half an hour before start time to go?), tiring trampoline surface to finish up on, poor post-finish organisation, in fact I don't remember seeing that many marshalls though I appreciated the ones I did see and think they did a very good job. The insulting 'fun runners' comment in the newspaper by one of the organisers still makes me seethe and is probably the main reason why I think I'll give Edinburgh a miss in the near future. As a slower runner that made me feel a little like a second class citizen marathon-wise and detracted a bit from my sense of achievement (it's been a tough year so far but I still stood on that start line and completed a full marathon, albeit under 6 hours rather than under 4½). Disgraceful to learn too that some people weren't even allowed to complete the full distance - my heart goes out to those runners. Last year I was impressed by the events ability to make runners of all paces feel their achievements were equally valid (making it a good 'first marathon') but this year a bit of elitism seems to have crept in.
That said, there is so much good in this event too - certain aspects very well organised (e.g. start wave system and pre-race information), I love the course which is why I returned to do this marathon again after last year, fantastic support from the locals (will be eternally grateful to those wonderful people with the hosepipes and the tables of water cups outside their door ... almost cried with gratitude at such acts of kindness, thank you thank you thank you!), fab medal (so heavy I almost garotted myself as I lay down on the grass afterwards with it on!) and a nice, technical t-shirt. Stadium finish is also terrific, minus that weird plasticky surface of course!
I'll most likely do this marathon again in the future because I really like Edinburgh, love the marathon course, was impressed and grateful for the excellent local support and overall it had a great atmosphere (during the times when dehydration/lack of water weren't an issue that is) – but I hope by then at least some of the bigger issues have been addressed. I look forward to either the Loch Ness or Toronto Waterfront marathon instead next year. Date of review: June 7, 2009
In short: Terrific fun despite the downpour! In full: Apart from a Santa run a couple of years ago, this was my first run in fancy dress as part of a group (one of 9 dwarfs + snow white + woodcutter!). First time in pink wave too as we were all keeping together. Loved it! No time pressures - just got a chance to fully enjoy the 10k and as a bonus collect further money for a well deserved cause. Crowd support through most of the course was wonderful and as always what truly 'makes' the atmosphere of these Great Runs. Huge thanks especially to the stoical supporters who were still there, cheerily encouraging us slower runners in the worst of the weather - must have been worse for them than for us but the smiles, jokes and encouragement kept on coming (and kept us going!). Helped one of our group to strongly complete her first ever 10k too! I may be back to do the Manchester 10k again next year but not for the course (which is fairly uninspiring) - for the atmosphere! It does have great PB potential too, so maybe I'll give it my best shot next year! Date of review: May 18, 2009
In short: Well organised 10k In full: Well organised by the AFF as always. Have to say a big thanks especially to the really nice, friendly marshal on a bike who was cheery and encouraging in the last couple of k for us at the back of the pack. I wasn't too well during much of the 10k but her encouragement really helped me finish when I might otherwise have dropped out - a massive thanks for that! Big thanks also to the fellow runner who's company helped the last few k go quickly. Was nice to see some sun this year after last year's drizzle too! Will be back next year! Date of review: April 20, 2009
In short: Very friendly 20-miler In full: It was SO tempting to stop at 12 miles as I wasn't physically or mentally prepared for the full 20 yesterday and it wasn't my best run by a long chalk. First rate marshalling, friendly fellow runners (my thanks especially to the 2 wonderful ladies I crossed the finish with - they really kept me going) and a pleasant but fairly challenging course really kept me going. Lovely group of kids who ran in with us at the end too who'd made up a 'special song' for us to finish on (aww!). A big thanks again to the organisers and extremely patient and encouraging marshalls - what a great 20 miler and I'd recommend it to anyone! Date of review: April 6, 2009
In short: Really enjoyed it In full: There were some negative comments from past years which gave me cause for concern but in fact I thoroughly enjoyed the whole thing, so a massive well done to the organisers for a great day! Amazing support all round and apart from the delayed start (possibly should be a cap on entry numbers to avoid bottlenecks and delays due to congestion?), pretty well organised I thought. I really liked the course and was relieved at how it avoided the hills! It was fascinating seeing the elites whizz effortlessly past as well on their second lap. I'll be back next year, hopefully in better shape than I was ... to enjoy it all the more! Date of review: March 29, 2009
In short: Communication could have been better In full: I understand and appreciate the organisers' decision to cancel this Half for health and safety reasons but an e-mail to let us know that the race had been cancelled would have been nice! Not everyone checks RW and I hadn't thought to check the Wokingham Half website until a friend gave me the heads up that there was talk of cancelling it.
Still - I would like to do this Half, so will try again next year - and make sure I keep checking the website next time! Date of review: February 12, 2009
In short: Freezing but still fun In full: The icy windchill factor today added to the challenge of the hills but the marshalling was second to none, which really helped to up the enjoyment level, so my huge thanks to them for bravely standing out there so long in the bitter cold and patiently waiting for us back of the pack runners! I enjoyed this as much as last year's event, so I'll be back again next year! Date of review: February 1, 2009
In short: Bracing but brilliant New Year's Eve jaunt! In full: Enjoyed this 10k very much, despite the icy temperature which must have been hard on the marshalls and supporters though they didn't show it, cheery and encouraging all the way. Bagpipes were a perfect touch, though again the poor guy must have been freezing!
I would definitely do this one again. Date of review: January 31, 2009
In short: Fantastic January Half ... In full: Very glad I got into this event this year - but you do have to be quick off the mark to get your entry in for this popular Half. Hugely enjoyable (even when struggling with post Christmas excesses!) and being almost pancake flat along country lanes, has PB potential in spades. My thanks to the wonderfully encouraging marshalls and to the excellent organisation from start to finish. Liked the great quality runner's rucksack too ... will appreciate that during my marathon training!
Hope I'm lucky enough to get in next year! Date of review: January 31, 2009
In short: Excellent end of year 10k, as always In full: This was my 4th consecutive Andy Reading and as ever it was well organised, with a friendly, relaxed atmosphere. Perfect for the time of year. I wasn't up to much today, not being well enough but still glad I did it. Marshalling was very friendly and kept me going. Will definitely be back again next year for my 5th Andy Reading! Date of review: December 14, 2008