In short: Slightly disappointing but they do try and get it right. In full: Main glitches were: (1) the barrage wasn't closed in time so we were held back for 10 minutes at the start; given the heat it was rather unfortunate, especially as the delay wasn't announced until long after most people had started (if not finished) warming up; (2) I'm pretty sure the kilometre markers were inaccurate. Well, either that or despite running 40.20 I have much more of a finishing kick than I've realised in the last 7 years (3.29 last km, anyone?)
Other than that, nothing to complain about, really. 2 water stations is more than sufficient for a 10k, especially as they are bottles with sports caps so you can carry them if you want. The hose/hydrant on the barrage to cool us down was much appreciated (although a bit more powerful than I'd anticipated!). The start wasn't too bad, although the usual gaggle of 'celebrities' at the front, most of whom are not going to run the 35-45 min time the pace boards suggest, is an inevitablility at this sort of race. Marshalls were generally helpful. Having a band playing on the barrage was a nice touch as well. 'Goody' bag had a lucozade bar and a bottle of lucozade. Decent finisher's medal and always nice to have finisher's t-shirts in sizes, and for small to be just that. Not great value, but you're paying for road closures and the Great Run brand, so it's to be expected. Date of review: July 27, 2008
In short: This is a runner's race, run by runners for runners. In full: A race that leaves you warm inside (!). The volunteers who sign you in are friendly; there's someone shouting out your halfway split; the drinks marshalls are FANTASTIC: one even jogged along so that I didn't have to slow to collect mine; your time is called out as you finish; there are prizes galore (in the open category from 1-7); and the last finisher gets just as much of a cheer as the first. Brilliant. Date of review: July 13, 2008
In short: Nice size, nice atmosphere, nice price: NICE! In full: Not much to add to the above: we were blessed with perfect weather, which helps. The volunteers were friendly and helpful; the course is about as flat as it's realistic to expect; there are mile markers which are clearly visible; and support is pretty good for the semi-rural location. Fans of big inner-city races might feel a bit bewildered at first, without all the big banners and music (the start line is a post on a lane!), but I wish more races were like this (and I used to be one of those fans!). Date of review: May 19, 2008
In short: Fast course and well organised. In full: It is a nice size of field, particularly for those of us more accustomed to big city races, which makes it feel more friendly.
Marshalls were great: always made sure runners were being sent the right way, and shouted out encouragement.
Facilities are pretty good, including proper changing rooms and showers. Bring a £1 coin for the lockers, although they claim they lock the changing rooms during the race.
It's a great setting and the benefit of a 3-lap course is that it offers the potential to pace evenly (not that I did, but that's not the point!).
Only slight gripe is that, as the paths are quite narrow, lapping/lapped runners can cause difficulties on laps 2 and 3. I would suggest the race instructions advise that runners try and stay single file except when overtaking where possible - at times people were 3 abreast and filling the path. Date of review: May 3, 2008
In short: Still some glitches to sort out, but like British Rail of old, they're getting there In full: Revised course this year nearly works, but there seem to be a lot of switchbacks and way too many cobbles. They ditched them from the London route for a reason!
There need to be more precise pace boards at the start - making the first wave 1 hour to 1 hour 45 minutes is ridiculous. In fairness, it did only take me 20 seconds to cross the start line, but it would have been easier if there had been clear pace boards in 10-15 minute bands.
Something to eat at the end would have been nice - something other than soup. Lucozade isn't really enough.
There seemed to be more toilets this year and queues weren't too bad.
Medal is nice as always.
Water stations were well-manned and sufficient in number, although it might be sensible to remind people on the outward leg on the Portway that they shouldn't throw their bottles into the return leg lane - it was littered with tripping hazards!
Pity that race packs came out rather late for some and that the t-shirts weren't ready on time for the guys.
A band or some music on the quiet stretch of the Portway would have provided a welcome lift.
Overall, I did have a fairly enjoyable day, but there didn't seem to be a 'wow' factor. Date of review: September 9, 2007
In short: Beautiful but with a bit of sting in the tail In full: Very well-organised race. Started on time, clear distance markers and water stations seemed to cope well. Nice medal and a Mars Bar. No goody bag, but I'm probably ok for small sachets of washing up liquid just at the moment!
The course isn't a natural PB course: although none of the climbs are big, there are a fair few and so it's hard to get into a relaxed rhythm. The real energy sapper was the gentle upward drag towards home...
Probably need bigger cups of water on a hot day; fine for today's conditions. Date of review: August 19, 2007
In short: Well-organised but expensive In full: As others have said, it has the "Great Run" touch, so lots of signage, decent water stations, accurate K markers, etc. The course is pretty flat, although one kilometre (2-3, maybe?) had a gentle long incline followed by a steepish short descent, but not enough to mess up a PB attempt for the vast majority.
T-shirt is so-so: cotton but at least it comes in sizes (FLM take note!). Nice medal. Lucozade and a snack bar in the goody bag. Not sure that £22 is anywhere near value for money, but the big events rarely are. You go for the atmosphere.
Let's just hope that "Great Run" fancy resurrecting the Cardiff Marathon next year. Now that WOULD be Great! Date of review: July 30, 2007
In short: If it hadn't poured with rain it would have been close to perfect In full: I agree that rowing lakes aren't the most picturesque places but they have lots of nice, flat paths/roads around them which are great for running on. And they do beat industrial parks for views.
Organisation was almost faultless. I didn't have problems with my number disintegrating, but it's a concern that a lot of people did. Goody bag was pretty good for the price and a nice chunky medal if that's your kind of thing.
I'll be back next year as I missed my 40 minute target by 8 seconds, so Dorney Lake and I have unfinished business. But hopefully next year 40 minutes will be a distant dream and I can aim for something faster ;-) Date of review: July 1, 2007
In short: A great day out In full: It is sad that a fatality occurred, and sympathy to the friends and family of the deceased.
Generally, very slick, although I understand that there were some transport problems and water ran out; I wasn't affected, but that's not the point. People pay a lot to enter this race and train hard. Glitches like that shouldn't happen.
Green start runners were slowed pretty badly when we merged with the blue start - maybe pen allocations weren't that tightly enforced on blue?
However, in general, I had a ball. Crowd support and atmosphere were as great as ever and a PB by 12 minutes in the terrible heat means London 2007 will always be a special race. It would be nice if the t-shirts weren't one size 'fits' all. Quite a lot of us are (a) short and (b) slim... Date of review: April 23, 2007
In short: Generally slick, but a few niggles to be sorted. In full: The course is fast (as ever) and we were blessed with near perfect conditions. Plenty of water stations and 2 lucozade stations.
Toilet queues weren't great, but I managed to find some in the stands that were open and had only a very short queue. Similarly, the baggage queues were starting to build when I collected mine, and that needs to be sorted, especially as there wasn't a foil blanket to keep warm afterwards. Perfect racing conditions don't make for perfect hanging about while you're cooling rapidly conditions!
But we started on time, the crowd support was good, the on-course entertainment lifted spirits and I took 5 minutes off my PB, breaking 1.30 for the first time. It's kind of hard not to be biased, frankly!
One major bug-bear was transport for locals - those of us coming from Bristol had very limited trains first things due to engineering works. I don't know if anyone tried to persuade National Rail (or whichever bit of our privatised rail service takes these decisions!) to change the times/start trains earlier, but there were a lot of angry people at Temple Meads at 9am on Sunday!!! Date of review: March 26, 2007