In short: You don't quite get what you pay for, but I do still love it... In full: Glad that I opted to travel by train, but the train was pretty crowded, so if there's any way of ensuring that some extra trains are provided to convert the local drivers...?
Not sure the waves were brilliantly well organised, as Orange Wave A just seemed to be 'good club runners' without no indication of timings. I keep on hoping race organisers will read these reviews and put up pace boards, but I don't think they will. We will all have to keep on guessing!
Finish area seemed to work well and water stations were efficient. Sensible to provide a shower during the race as it was surprisingly warm for the end of October.
Pretty good goody bag - medal, t-shirt, energy drink, water, snack bar, etc. Still a bit confused about why herbal lozenges and fisherman's friends are targetting runners as a potential market, but it's no stranger than yet another jar of cranberry sauce, I suppose.
No, it's not great value for money, but those races are the club races which I adore. You do this race because it's fun and slick.
They could probably use some of my £36 to get a few more portaloos, though... Date of review: October 26, 2009
In short: I'd say it's more of a 3.5 than a 3 or a 4, but worth it. In full: Hadn't done the 10k sister race to my local half, and was pleasantly surprised. We started pretty much on time, although no-one could quite understand why we weren't allowed into the 'pens' until 10 minutes before the gun. Towards the front end of the field there seemed to be enough road width for the runners (this can be a problem in the half, which has a larger field). Crowd support was pretty good, although somewhat sparse on the Portway; however, with the road closed there's probably not much that can be done about that other than persuading a band to play there? One water station just after half way was welcome in today's warm conditions. The finish worked well, although the queues at the baggage tent were building (not very) nicely as I was leaving. Not sure it was the best idea to ensure that bags were handed in effectively in predicted finishing time order, as there will have been bottlenecks all morning collecting bags. Also, not quite enough toilets at the start to my mind. Took about 10 minutes to queue for a pee 30 minutes before the first gun. You're never going to get great value for money with a big city race, but as far as they go, this one seems worth it. Date of review: May 10, 2009
In short: I know I shouldn't love it and get swept up in the hype, but I do. A lot. In full: Positives: 1. Atmosphere. At certain points (Narrow Street, Embankment) it's just unbeatable. The crowd give you such a lift. 2. Water stations generally well organised. 3. Enough lucozade for those that like it (nuff said!) 4. The Jim'll-fix-it medal. 5. Stuff to eat in the goody bag.
Negatives: 1. Champs tent was tiny. Lucky that the weather was good or things would have been extremely interesting. 2. Not many toilets on the Champs start, either... Longer queues than I'd been led to believe. 3. I'd rather not have a race t-shirt than something so huge and impractical. Or be able to pay for a decent, fitted technical shirt (e.g. Reading Half this year had great tech tops)
But at the end of the day, I love this race. It's weird, because I'm really starting to feel jaded about big events, but somehow London wins me over. Clearly, it's the Andrex puppy of the race world. You shouldn't love it, because there's things to fix, and it gets away with murder (well, shredding bog roll, at any rate). Date of review: April 29, 2009
In short: Fast and pretty flat; well-organised; not the most interesting course In full: Only gripe is the fact you go around the industrial park 3 times, but I imagine that one of the reasons this race is so cheap is that it's not a fully closed course and using the industrial park means it is still almost completely traffic free, so on balance it is probably a good thing...
Lovely atmosphere - a very friendly race. Marshalls were great and drinks stations worked well. Mars Bar and a nice medal at the finish.
I hope to be back in 2010! Date of review: April 10, 2009
In short: Good organisation and pleasant atmosphere In full: I'm fond of this race because it is where I ran my first ever half back in 2002. They went through a bad patch in terms of organisation but seem to have come out the other side and it now runs pretty smoothly. There is a longish walk to the start from the village which nearly delayed the start, but no real gripes, which is impressive for a race of this size. Date of review: April 2, 2009
In short: Frustrating. It has the potential to be very good, but doesn't quite hit the mark. In full: The positives: It remains a super-fast course. The crowd support is great. The water stations are sufficient and efficient. They did manage to put down some walkways this year (although needless to say they weren't needed this year!) Insofar as goody bags are ever ok, the goody bag is pretty ... well, good.
The negatives: How hard can it be to get a race to start on time? To the best of my recollection, Bath has started late 3 out of the last 6 years. It messes up pre-race nutrition/hydration and warm-ups.
Too many participants. Made it a bit difficult to get to water stations on the second lap, as the water stations were only on one side of the road.
Congestion at the start wasn't too bad, but pace boards would be much appreciated. As far as I could work out, pen B covered anything up to 8m/m which wasn't elite. That is a wide spread of abilities. I don't know why I'm typing this, because I type it every year for many of these big particpation races, and it never gets implemented. Perhaps I should let it go... Date of review: March 15, 2009
In short: MUCH better than last year In full: Thank goodness! Bristol seems to be on the road to recovery. Although I didn't run well, that's not relevant to this review. The start was pretty much on time, water stations worked well, marshals were great, feed stations were efficient, de-chipping was swift and the queues for toilets (at the start) and bags (at the end) moved fairly swiftly.
My one continual gripe is this: PLEASE put pace boards up within the colour zones. I don't want to stand too near the front and slow down faster people, nor do I want to be obstructed by slower runners. I'm sure both occurred (although more of the latter, sadly: I was overtaking huge numbers of people in the first few miles, and it took me only 15 seconds to cross the line).
Oh, and I think race packs need to go out a little earlier... Date of review: September 14, 2008
In short: Lovely In full: I did this race last year and really liked it, so came back for a second dose.
I have a sneaking suspicion that the hills have grown in the last year, but I doubt that's down to the organisers ;¬)
Only gripe is that there was one mile marker out by about 0.25 miles. The problem that creates is that you then start to doubt all of the mile markers and so for those of us running the old fashioned way, with just a watch, it makes it tough psychologically.
Otherwise, a lovely race: nice setting, great marshalls, Mars Bar and a medal at the finish and a swim for those who were sufficiently optimistic to bring a swim suit. Chip timing was a good improvement on last year. The 'hill of death' at the start and finish doesn't bother me as much as others - it certainly provides some hilarious photos, as I recall from last year! Car parking not an issue for those of us who caught the train - the 3 mile jog from Burnham station is a lovely warm up.
I plan to be back next year. Date of review: August 18, 2008