In short: It may have rained on my parade, but I still had a lot of fun. About as slick as you'll get with a field of over 10,000. In full: For a big race, the congestion wasn't bad, but I still don't understand why there aren't pace bands within the waves to make pacing easier, especially for faster runners. A separate wave for walkers sounds a great idea.
On the transport front, stayed locally and came by train. Done that for the last two years and it is so much easier than driving! However, if they could put on trains earlier to make it easier to travel further by train in the morning, so much the better. As a Bristolian, there was no train on the day I could have caught.
Personally, I like having my space blanket in a packet, because then if I don't use it, it stores well to be taken to another race. The blanket from 2003 was v useful at the start of Bath 2004, which competes with GSR 2006 in my memory for worst weather conditions. Just shows you can never please everyone!
Special thanks to the family outside the Eastney Arms, who were certainly screaming their heads off in an effort to win a prize for best supporters as I went past. It meant I entered the final two wet and windy miles with a smile on my face! Date of review: October 23, 2006
In short: Struggles to cope with the size of the field, particularly as the half and full start at the same time. But if you get a clean start and a clear(-ish) road, it's flat enough to offer a PB In full: Very surprised that there were no pace-boards at the start, so everyone was mixed up. I heard people very near the front saying they had pace bands for 2h10 half-marathon! It's not necessarily their fault they were there, as it may have been their first race, and no-one was telling people where to stand, but it wasn't an impressive start.
The first water station was too small to cope with the volume of runners on the first loop - I had to double back to get a bottle because the volunteers weren't able to hand water out fast enough, having only two arms each...
Grass-crete is a definite minus. I know they warn you, but it's worse than cobbles to run on, especially as it comes so near the end of each lap.
However, crowd support is big, and the stadium finish is a plus. Although leaving your bag under a seat makes you feel a bit vulnerable to theft, it did mean that for marathon runners there were plenty of people inside the stadium giving us a cheer as we came in.
Amazed that they'd run out of small t-shirts. I'm not the fastest of marathon runners, but at 3.19 not the slowest either. A lot of people must have gone without. And no, an extra-large t-shirt is not an option when you're 5'2". I have lots of race t-shirts that reach my knees already!
But on the whole it was a good day out, I PB'd and the crowd were great. If the organisers could guarantee that there wouldn't be a vile, strong wind next year... Date of review: October 15, 2006
In short: Organisation let them down this year. Usually one of my favourite races. In full: I'll start with the good stuff: it's my local race, the course has been evened out so that there are fewer bends, the water and energy drink stations worked well, the crowd support at the cheer points and in the city centre was great. But the enormous let down was the mile markers: who put them out? Don't they realise that runners rely on them to pace races? I nearly gave up when I thought I'd suddenly gone from averaging just over 7m/m to 8.5m/m without much warning. And then I apparently ran the penultimate mile in 5mins 16secs: a massive personal best for a mile in a half marathon. Come on Bristol, you can do better than this, because you have in the past. A yellow card, sadly. I'll be back next year (I think - I may have calmed down by the time the entry forms for 2007 come out, after all), but it won't be my autumn target race. Speak to the organisers of the Reading Half - they had to turn around a race which was marred by shoddy organisation. Date of review: September 17, 2006
In short: Worth the trek up from the sunny southwest In full: Second attempt at Glasgow 1/2 for me, and 3 mins faster than last year (but then again the conditions were better). Crowd support wasn't as good as 2005, but given the rain, who can blame people for staying indoors?! Only a few niggles: (1) Still a bit congested at the start - agree that it could be time to go for smaller waves, or have pacing demarcations within the waves to try and sort things out a bit (2) There needs to be some sort of bad weather shelter at the start - huddling under a shop awning for an hour having seen friends off at the start of the 10K was not the best
However, the race started on time, the water stations were fine, and the goody bag was fine. Personally, I'd rather have the option of paying extra for a technical shirt, especially as the 'sharewear' sizes are enormous for short women, but I know runners will never agree on whether cotton race t-shirts are a Good Thing. Date of review: September 4, 2006
In short: First time, but not the last In full: I'd read about FLM, of course I had, but nothing quite prepared me for the reality. The Green Start was probably quieter than the others, but all the better for it in terms of loo queues, certainly for the ladies - less than ten minutes both times (pre-race nerves...). Got off to a fairly clean start (sub-8 minute first mile, despite the congestion) and had fun high-fiving the kids. Then settled into my 7:40-ish m/m race pace. And then the noise started - it felt like from Cutty Sark onwards there was barely a quiet moment. Drinks stations worked fine, as did energy drinks, and I'm sure the jelly babies I munched every three miles helped stop me hit the wall. OK, so my 10K splits are positive (yes, each 10K was slower than the one before - but not much!), but I PB'd by 6.5 minutes. And my supporters tracked me down three times, which gave me a real lift. Best moment (apart from finishing, natch) was probably hearing a mate yell my name as I went along the Embankment, after the 25 mile mark. My ears were almost literally ringing from the noise, so that probably says a great deal about my mate's voice projection(!). I must admit I turned onto Birdcage Walk with a tear in my eye from the emotion of it all - by then I could have walked and still set a PB, which was a great feeling. And I don't even look too bad in the photos available to date. What's not to like? Date of review: April 25, 2006
In short: Well-organised apart from one or two small details. In full: Good points include: starting on time, water stations at sensible intervals, nice medal, nice goody bag, chip-timing, nice atmosphere - the bands really help lift you when the going gets tough. Blessed with decent weather this year as well!
Things that could be improved: placing mile markers higher up, technical t-shirts not cotton and time-guides in the waves. That said, the congestion was definitely less than in 2003, when I last ran, so the waves have helped. Date of review: October 10, 2005
In short: Mainly flat, fast, well-organised. In full: I'm biased because it's my home town and so I can walk to and from the start, but this remains one of my favourite races. There are plenty of drinks stations (5), plus two energy stations and two sponge stations, only a couple of inclines and the Clifton Suspension Bridge to eye up. Yes, the traditional problem of runners starting in the wrong zone persists, but it's difficult to know how to cure this one, short of marshalls asking each of the 12,000 runners what he/she is aiming for, and organising everyone appropriately. At the end of the day, we each need to be honest with ourselves... Date of review: October 3, 2005
In short: Slight undulations but there's potential for it to be fast-ish on a cooler day! In full: The basic organisation is good - we started on time, there was water where they said it would be, dechipping at the end was efficient, etc., but a couple of changes which would be nice: (1) More water stations - having to go from mile 5 to mile 9.5 without water is a killer when you do a half on a hot day and don't start until 10.30. I'd like to add my thanks to the Sikh Community - their hoses came when I was starting to curse the race organisers (sorry...) (2) All mile markers the same - some signs, some flags, etc. (3) Feed stations on both sides of the road (4) Better sorted 'waves' - I was near the front of the first group yet the first mile took 8 minutes. Definitely detracts from what could otherwise be a fast-ish race. (5) Any way of making more road width available to reduce congestion?
But there are many positives: (1) Good crowd support (2) Good on-course music (3) Good scenery, and the Kingston Bridge is a nice touch (4) Small t-shirts actually seem quite small! (5) Decent medal Date of review: September 5, 2005