In short: Well organised race held nowhere near London but worthy of its association with the FLM nevertheless In full: Silverstone, a circuit so unfairly lambasted by Bernie Ecclestone (I have been to 16 of the current F1 circuits and it is nowhere near the worst), has a reputation for poor facilities for holding an F1 race, yet get it to host a medium to large running race there and instantly you have access to an ideal venue for a seamlessly organised event.
I aimed to be at Silverstone for 10:30 (12pm start). I was a little disconcerted to see the traffic backed up on the A43 bypass, but thankfully the well organised marshalling ensured that I was in my parking spot by 11:05 (Although next year I will allow at least two hours to spare).
Once there everything was well laid out - toilets relatively plentiful for a running race, plenty of space to warm up with a jog, the baggage storage looked efficient (Although I didn't actually use it), and the wide start/finish straight on the circuit made it easy to line up in a position relevant to your predicted finishing time.
I've run the 10K race here before so I knew roughly what to expect - ultra smooth tarmac on the circuit itself - hugging the corners, taking the racing line, desperately trying to shelter from the wind on one of the numerous occasions when it was full on into your face.
If the entire race was run on the F1 circuit, this would be the surest bet for a PB circuit in the country. This is not possible due to the numbers running and issues with lapping backmarkers, and so it is necessary to go on a rather convoluted 6-7 mile section on the infield and then on the outer perimeter road before greatfully returning to the F1 circuit for the final 3 miles.
I found these miles tough - especially with the oft inhibiting headwind, although the marshalling was supportive and excellent and vocal crowd support better than I expected. One minor quibble - mile marker 6 was definately 45 or so seconds too early (The painted marker on the road was that far up on the course). This made for an unbelievably quick mile 6 followed by a depressingly slow mile 7.
Mention at this point must go to the radio piped out all around the circuit on the tannoys. This must be unique to the Silverstone race and made for a real morale booster - not only with the tunes being pumped out, which made it feel like a surreally large outdoor gym, but gave updates on the leaders that spurred you on.
All in all I ran 1:20.30 which is my second fastest ever time. If I had concentrated more between miles 7-11 and had not been mindful that this was a marathon preparation race, this would have been a PB for sure.
The end was well done with photographers, a goody bag with medal and t-shirt, and facilities to change and grab a bite to eat. I cannot comment on how easy it was to leave the circuit as I hot stepped it out as quickly as possible. At £14 or so this is extremely good value compared to rival city half marathons and I would recommend it to anyone looking for a good PB course.
In short: Excellently organised race over a scenic, challenging course with weather to test your mettle! In full: From the organiser posting advice on this site's forum, to the weather updates on the race website on the morning of the race, one supected this race would offer a little extra. The park and ride was superb - it just worked. The mobile toilet was surely the poshest seen at a race ever! The baggage and start procedure all worked fine. The course was challenging - the hill at 9 miles a toughy, the one at 18 a drag made worse by the chilling wind, otherwise it was scenic and undulating, but with enough flattish stretches to check out my marathon pacing. The marshalling was superb - encouraging, numerous and advisory of any icy patches of which there were many - especially in the first few miles. Drinks stations were plentiful and helpful and for a course run virtually entirely on country roads the support from spectators was surprisingly plentiful. It was also the first race I finished in a snow storm - but not even that could put me off. If I had one constructive criticism it would be maybe to put a bit of sawdust down on the grassy/wet/muddy area at the start and finish to dry it up a bit. When I entered the £14 or so entry seemed a bit steep for what was ultimately a pre-London training run. But having seen the seamless organisation that went into the event I would say it is very good value for money and a race I would certainly run again. Date of review: March 1, 2005
In short: A quickish course with a couple of stings in its tale. In full: The start was shambolic and could have been dangerous. Well organised thereafter with mostly closed roads, although running alongside the traffic on A38 and again near the end wasn't that pleasant. A T-Shirt rather than medal was disappointing and some of the water at stations was of dubious quality. Was very competitive near the front for a race of 2000. Date of review: October 27, 2004
In short: New 12KM distance retained all the essence and challenges of the 9 mile race with the benefit of improved and safer start and finish. Well organised, great weather, nice race to start the year with. Got coaster to go with last year's mug! Date of review: August 24, 2004
In short: Marred by fiasco at the start delayed by over half an hour. Still one of my fave races for the atmosphere though. Will be interesting to see how Sweatshop take on race with new start place. Date of review: August 24, 2004
In short: Biased as I am a huge motorsport fan!! It feel fantastic hugging the same curb at Copse or Maggots that Schumacher or Montoya had used days earlier! The race is good as well. Very quick. Date of review: August 24, 2004
In short: Outside of FLM the best organised race I have ever been to. Superb use of space at start - a challenging interesting course with good crows support. Would consider doing the marathon having done the half. Date of review: August 24, 2004
In short: Worth it for running around Mallory Park alone. One of my favourite races for the unobstrusive organisation and challenging fun course. Deserves to become a much bigger event. Date of review: August 24, 2004