In short: The Bristol Half Marathon goes from strength to strength – a most enjoyable day out! In full: This was without doubt one of the best half marathons I have taken part in. I have a few minor suggestions for improvements, but overall this was a highly successful and very well organised event. Well done to the Race Director and team!!
This is the third consecutive year that I have taken part in this event and it has improved noticeably even in that short space of time. I don’t think this is down to chance, rather it must be down to careful analysis and hard work by the organisers.
The runners’ village is in an excellent location and the choice of Millennium Square is ideal. I think the “third colour” runners in each of the wave starts could justifiably feel a little like second-class citizens though, because College Green, although a great location in itself, felt a bit marginalised. This was apparent (a) because there was a noticeable lack of atmosphere there before the start by comparison with Millennium Square and (b) because there was a serious lack of portaloos by comparison with the main site. Still, getting across the finishing straight and moving between the two locations was pretty easy, at least before 9.00am.
Despite some comments to the contrary, I found the local signage (eg colour starts, location of baggage stores etc) very helpful. The pens were clearly laid out and well segregated. I didn’t see any division notices within the pens, so simply aimed for the middle of my (white) start and this seemed to work out fine. Friends doing the 10.00am start similarly reported no problems in this respect.
As for the run itself, this *is* undoubtedly a fast course with lots of PB potential. Just look at the athleticsdata website, where about 40 of the top 100 finishers are annotated as having recorded PBs yesterday! The conditions were ideal too – a very light wind and not too much sunshine (although it warmed up a bit at about 10.30am – another reason to be thankful for the early start).
The “hill” after mile 11 really isn’t that bad – certainly not as bad as I remembered and in fact the ramps onto the Cumberland Basin swing bridge and flyover almost seemed more forbidding! I really liked the Portway section – a good opportunity to eat up some miles and get the pace sorted out, then before you know it, you’re over half way round. Overall, the course is excellent. The only niggle is all the manoeuvring in the last few miles – within sight of the finish – to fit the miles in between 10 and 13. It can be a little frustrating feeling that you are getting close and then going off in the opposite direction. Still, I suppose it’s the only way to fit the miles in without going bananas on road closures!
Course organisation was great. The marshals didn’t have a lot to do other than on the swing bridge, but they did a good job anyway. And thanks to the cheerful teams of cadets handing out drinks very efficiently, also to all the crews at the end, busy handing out space blankets, goody bags and medals, as well as dechipping everyone. Drinks stations – water and energy drinks – were well spaced too. Support was good and I enjoyed the section of road near Jury’s (Prince Street) and the lap of Queen’s Square for that “city centre” feel. One minor niggle was that some of the mile markers were poorly placed – it may just have been me, but I didn’t see “2” or “11” at all.
My only other negative comment – and I am honestly not sure how this could be addressed – is that it is difficult to get from Millennium Square across the course to the Park Street/College Green area after the race – as in previous years, we found ourselves working against the general direction of crowd movement all the way back past the Hippodrome to a crossing point (which was however being very well managed indeed). A minor point only and it did give us a chance to cheer on some of the later finishers.
What else? Well, the goody bag was excellent. Lots of tasty chocolate and cereal snack bars – just what is needed. The whole of the finishing area is well thought out and well laid out – as it should be on such a big event (there, nearly got to the end of this review without a dig at the Bath Half!).
And finally … I turned into Little Caroline Place, the side road at mile 1, almost convinced that there would be a builder’s skip in the carriageway. It was something of a shock to see a clear route ahead!!
In short: This must be one of the best 10k events in the South West. In full: I ran my first ever 10k here at Castle Combe last November on a cold windy day and I was keen to come back and run the course again in what I hoped would be better weather conditions. I have run in a couple of other 10k events since then, so what is it that drew me back to Castle Combe?
Firstly, the circuit itself must be unique. Running on a motor racing circuit guarantees a pretty flat and even course and it is also an interesting experience to run laps of anything other than a 400 metre track. In fact, the laps here are a fraction under three kilometres! There are really clear kilometre markers, so monitoring one’s pace is an absolute joy (and I even remembered to switch the Garmin to operate in metric units today!) Coming to the venue in the summertime, I was amused to see that the area within the circuit must be let to a local farmer, as there was a crop of wheat growing there. I was also taken aback to be reminded that the far side of the circuit could not be seen from the main grandstand area – this is an indication of how big the track is.
Secondly, the venue is – not surprisingly – perfectly set up for competitive events. There is loads of parking right by the track along with the race HQ, plenty of WCs, a café and lots of spectator areas.
Thirdly, the organisation of this event is very good – the organisers take a down-to-earth and no nonsense approach to the day and it all runs very smoothly indeed. Many other event organisers could do with a megaphone just like Will’s.
It was a cloudy day with some wind and, although it was sheltered in the start/finish area, I knew from experience that the back straight would be a bit of a challenge. And indeed it was. The first two kilometres went exactly according to plan, but by the time I finished the third, I had given away over 20 seconds! The wind is the one challenging factor here, because it would be necessary to run down the back straight two more times! Otherwise, the weather was great – cool and largely cloudy.
All in all, a most enjoyable outing. I missed the PB by less than a minute, partly because of the wind and partly through lack of preparation, but I have already put in an entry for the November event ...
Many thanks to the organisers and marshals and all involved in the staging of this event. Keep up the excellent work!
In short: An interesting change from all those road runs, with three testing climbs en route. In full: I have wanted to have a go at the Blaise Blazer ever since joining Westbury Harriers Running Club at the start of 2009. The Club operates from the University playing fields in Stoke Bishop in the winter, but moves its training base to the Blaise Castle Estate in the summer and the Blaise Blazer is a series of three runs around the estate. Having taken part in several events at other venues over the last year, it was time to see how my own club fared …
This is a cross-country run of about four miles with three clearly defined ascents on the route. The finish is at Blaise Castle, which is a folly on top of a hill. The course is run over grass, surfaced woodland paths and rough woodland trails, so there’s a good mix of terrain.
There’s no advance entry and registration is simply on the night. All very straightforward. A quick pre-race briefing, a short walk to the start and … we’re off. The route has plenty of twists and turns, but a combination of cheerful marshalls and sawdust markings meant that routefinding was straightforward. The hills are a challenge, but definitely “runnable” rather than forcing you to walk.
Some kind soul had lugged water to the top of the hill and this was very welcome at the finish. It was a five-minute walk back down to the clubhouse and start, where energy drinks and a little goody bag (courtesy of moti, the sponsors) were available. With an entry fee of only £2.50, this event is very much in the cheap and cheerful category, and it works well. The club had also set up a barbecue for those wanting a little more in the way of post-race refreshment, so there was a very good atmosphere as darkness fell unseasonably early.
In conclusion, if you’re looking for something a bit different from a road race, over a reasonably accessible distance, give this a try. Date of review: August 4, 2009
In short: A very tough but ultimately satisfying challenge – with a sting in the tail In full: I have only taken part in one multi-terrain event before – the Tough Ten, which covers only half the distance of this event (well, slightly less than half, actually, but more about that later!). I am training for an Autumn Marathon and came across the Seaview 17 when looking for some local July/August events of 13 to 20 miles distance to timetable in as warm-up long runs. As there are not many suitable road events in July and August, I decided to give this one a try. So, was this a good decision?
The first point to make is that this is not a 17-mile race. 17 miles is apparently the distance from start to finish as the crow flies. In fact, it is billed as a 20-mile event, as the Coast Path twists and turns its way inexorably along the Bristol Channel coastline. This is clearly described on the Minehead Running Club website, so no problems there.
The entry process was straightforward – simply print out and complete an entry form and send it off with the princely sum of £6 (that’s six English pounds – what a bargain!). The race number came through pretty quickly. No race instructions by post, but these were on the website. So far, so good.
Now, this was my first run from A to B (rather than from A to A), so how would the logistics and travel work? In all my other events, I have - apparently - just gone round in circles. Oh – except for the London Marathon, of course! Well, I am pleased to say that the organisation was every bit as smooth as the London Marathon. The race HQ and race finish are in Minehead and this is where we all arrived and parked. We then embarked upon luxury coaches (videos, trolley service, bacon baps – oh dear, you must have been on the *other* coach!) to take us on a scenic tour of Exmoor (well, it would have been scenic if it had not been for the grey cloud and horizontal rain obscuring views landward and seaward). The coaches hauled themselves slowly up the infamous Porlock Hill, which, at a 1 in 4 gradient, must be one of the steepest “A” roads in the UK, and we realised just how hilly this part of the country is! Again, we were prepared for this, as the Minehead RC website has a really super little contour graph of the route, so there were no excuses for being unaware of what was to come!
We disembarked at Countisbury and huddled for shelter behind the coaches – until they drove away! We then sought sanctuary in the little Saxon church until it was time for the off. Away we went! Much of the first three or four miles was on narrow footpaths with little room for overtaking, so early conversation was punctured with cries of “coming through on your right” and variations thereon. Recommendation: if you know you’re going to set off quickly, get to the front of the group at the start, otherwise you will be frustrated. Similarly, slower runners, you’ll just annoy everyone if you are first to arrive at the single file sections!
The first real shocker was a steep climb at about four miles in, leading up to “County Gate”. In my part of the field, it became apparent that it was just as quick to walk up this as it would have been to run and we all strode up in silence, probably thinking ahead with some trepidation to the known big hill, which we wouldn’t meet for nearly another ten miles, after Bossington. First water stop was at the top. My first “thank you” is to the cheerful teams manning all the water stations and points where there were tricky direction changes on the route. The jelly babies and bananas were a welcome touch too.
On we went, mostly on lovely woodland paths, farm tracks and over fields. I don’t remember much tarmac or concrete at all and the scenery was great. All in all, a really nice route. After Bossington (where one of the drinks team was kind enough to let me have a bottle of Lucozade – ssssh!), the big hill was upon us. This was Hurlstone Combe, with a climb of near 1,000 feet from sea level to summit. Agony! Again, the only way up was at a walking pace and even this didn’t stop my calf muscles from cramping horribly as the ground evened out at the top. The good news was that there were now only six miles to go and there was next to no ascent left on the course. I would highlight a lovely section on a woodland track descending gently across the contours on the seaward side of the hill on the approach to Minehead. And so into Minehead. The Garmin says only a mile left – fantastic, I’ll be home in less than ten minutes. No, I won’t – here’s the sting in the tail. The course was re-routed to circumnavigate a building site and had been extended to (by my reckoning, at least) 20.95 miles. Aaagh! The last mile was horribly slow. I am pleased to report that it was livened up by the sight of the three runners ahead of me all having to stop at a level crossing barrier to let the West Somerset Railway train go by! Bet that doesn’t happen often!
And so to the finish. And to the most amazing spread of lunch/tea – sandwiches, savouries, cake, more cake and more cake. Huge thanks to the families and friends of Minehead RC who must have spent hours preparing all this – it was most welcome.
Criticisms – I can’t really think of any. This is a tough event, but it is an experience not to be missed. I reckon it’s probably as tough as running a full marathon on road.
In conclusion, a great experience, competently organised, with an excellent atmosphere, and great value for money. What more could you want?
In short: Nice run, but the hot day turned this into a bit of a challenge. In full: My daughter was looking for a late-May 10k to follow up her debut in Bristol two weeks earlier and she found this one on the Runner’s World website. We read the reviews from previous years and learned that this was a pretty flat course, that there would be a fantastic spread of homemade cakes and that there was some disappointment at the lack of the advertised memento in 2008. So, how accurate were the reviews?
To find out, we first had to get our entries in. I found the PVRC website less than helpful. On the “Pewsey Vale 10k” page, the date was shown and beneath it was the rubric “Entry Form not yet available”. (In fact, this is still the case on the day after the actual race day!). Never mind, there was a separate page for “Entry Forms”. I clicked onto this and it said “We can now accept entry fees over the web” with a link to the Runner’s World website. “Great”, I thought and followed the link. There was no online entry possible! Someone had forgotten to tell Runner’s World, perhaps? Eventually, I found a photostat of the entry form on the PVRC site, managed to print a couple out in the right size and sent them off by post. Everything worked fine from here on, with numbers coming back within five working days, but what a palaver! It was almost as if they were keen to make it difficult for runners to enter! I wondered how many entries there would be.
Apart from the website, which was definitely well below standard, how was the pre-race organisation? Very good. The school HQ was excellent with lots of on-site parking, good changing facilities and plenty of space for the various stands. We even had a sneak preview of the cakes being laid out. (And they covered many square feet of counter top – this looked promising!). The atmosphere was good and everyone was relaxed. Clear signage everywhere and friendly marshals and officials.
About five minutes before the start, we were led out to the start line in a field behind the school. It was turning out to be a warm day, so I was pleased that the course was billed as flat. On the start line, we were given some clear “housekeeping” rules, as we would be running on open roads, and were also told that, because the event was principally a charity fundraiser, there would be no memento. What?!! But lots of people had commented on this very issue in 2008. How could they be doing this again? It stated clearly on the Pewsey website and on the Runner’s World info that there would be a memento. Why? I’m all in favour of maximising the proceeds going to charity and it would be churlish to complain, but this is such an easily avoided problem. So, PVRC, please, in 2010, whatever else you do, DON’T MENTION THE MEMENTO!
Off we went! The first kilometre was steadily downhill. Great! The second and third felt as if they were downhill too, but this was just an optical illusion of some sort. The course was pretty flat (with the exception of a solitary bridge at about 3k and again at 7k. The real challenge was the heat. There was some shade from roadside trees, but a lot more sun. An earlier start than 11.00am may be worth considering, but I think that we were unlucky that this was an unexpectedly hot day. Then came the payback for that fast first kilometre – a gentle but persistent pull uphill towards the finish. Excellent support over the last 400 metres and through the finish. Officials scribbling earnestly on clipboards, which was reassuring (as this is not a chip-timed event), and a lady handed me a Mars Bar!
The general consensus was that the heat had added a couple of minutes to most people’s target times. The final gradient would not really have been noticeable in cooler weather, so I am happy to confirm that this is a pretty flat course! I jogged back to see my daughter striding for home – second female finisher!! Excellent!!
And so to the cakes. Yes, well worth the trip! Our group all went back for seconds, so I hope that this helped a little in increasing the proceeds going to the local Pathfinders charity.
In summary, a very nice race with a couple of snags that could ever-so-easily be overcome.
In short: It's not easy organising a 10k on this scale and Bristol can be proud of a job well done! In full: I had run two 10k races before this one and both had fewer than 500 entrants. I was therefore interested to see how this event would work with over ten times the field. If city centre events go wrong, they can go very wrong! (See for example the comments on the recent Edinburgh 10k.) I need not have worried. The organisers obviously drew on their substantial experience of running a successful Half Marathon in the same part of the city and it was a joy to be a part of this event.
The start and finish location is great, with plenty of space. Two particular reasons for this, as far as I could tell. Firstly the wave start helped immensely in keeping the start from getting too crowded (and in spreading the field out during the race). Secondly, there was a long receiving area on Anchor Road beyond the finish line before the various zones (medal, drink, space blanket, de-chipping, goody bag) actually began, which meant that there was no tendency for runners to loiter just beyond the line. Having said that, I loitered in order to congratulate my daughter, who was running her first 10k and who crossed the line only a couple of minutes after me. (Next time, I expect her to be waiting to congratulate me!)
Those familiar with the Half Marathon will know the course and in many ways this 10k simply includes the best bits. There's a shorter run along the Portway, a more direct route to the start (no-one who ran in the 2008 HM will forget that side road before the Cumberland Basin with that builder's skip strategically positioned!), a simple "up and over" to get back across the Cumberland Basin without twists and turns on the ramps and a direct final route through the centre without the labyrinthine route around Queen's Square. A fantstically flat course and therefore offering excellent PB potential.
The pre-race atmosphere was great - I really enjoy the buzz and anticipation as the runners and supporters gather for an event like this. The sunny weather helped too! Pre-race instructions etc were fine and arrangements were clear.
So, what could have been better? Very little. A few more portaloos would have been welcomed by many, I know. If the organisers could find a brass band or drumming group or similar to perform at the turn-point on the Portway, that would be fantastic too! I say this because the support on the Portway was a little thin. I know this is a newish event still, but with the turn being below Sea Walls, the big HM crowds from Shirehampton, Sea Mills, Stoke Bishop etc simply didn't seem to have made it! One other point that I'll mention, although I am by no means convinced that this is necessary - I started the race intending to bypass the drinks station altogether. When the time came, I was more than ready to take on some water and a second station on Cumberland Road would have been very welcome too! That probably sounds excessive for a 10k though and perhaps it was just me!
All in all, a very enjoyable event. Well done, Bristol! Thanks to all the marshalls and volunteers too! Date of review: May 11, 2009
In short: Slopes, inclines and undulations. In full: I was surprised how little advance publicity there was for this event, especially as it is titled "The Great West Run". That phrase puts one in mind of the Great North Run and The Great South Run, so it suggests lots of prestige and national coverage, but the organisers of this event seem quite happy to carry on without all that. In fact, I see from the website that there has been some doubt about whether it would even continue beyond this, its twenty-fifth anniversary year. Regardless of all that, the event was a sell-out and attracted entries for the 3,000 places on offer well in advance of the day.
So, what did I think of it? In summary, this is a really nice city-centre event with excellent organisation and a pleasant atmosphere. (Another one that the Race Director of the Bath Half really should come and observe and learn from. I’ll try to stop banging on about him in my reviews from now on, I promise!)
The course consists of an initial four-mile loop away from the city, then two laps of a city-centre route, much of which is out-and-back along a single road. This helped to condense the support and gave the impression of some really sizeable crowds, which added to the atmosphere.
Here are ten random really nice features that made my day: - the band of pipers piping in Southernhay - the cheering majorettes outside Debenhams - the cheerful Sea Scouts wishing me luck as I drove into the car park - the friendly chaps running the baggage drop who spotted my number before I even got into the hall and had my bag ready and waiting (I hope you coped with the rush when it came!) - the "spot prizes" being handed out by the Ironbridge Runners - the twice out-and-back course (Who were those two other Westbury Harriers? We cheered each other on every time we passed each other going in opposite directions.) - the section through the new shopping centre, which had all the "big race" feel of the Canary Wharf section of the London Marathon - the stadium finish - the crowds, who were brilliant - the plentiful drinks and sponging stations
Well done, Exeter! The pre-race information was sent in good time and was helpful – direction-finding to the car parking area was no problem. There was quite a small race HQ, so I guess we were fortunate that it stayed dry. Well organised start area and start pens. Good marshalling throughout. Well laid out finish area – get the medal first, then on to drinks and bananas (a nice touch), pick up the goody bag and into the de-chipping zone, then pick up a sized T-shirt – all flowed smoothly and without hassle.
So, would I return? Well, the one drawback for me, chasing a fast time, was the large number of slopes, inclines and undulations. A lot of this race was about gritting the teeth and digging in, and looking forward to the next downhill section. Running along Pinhoe Road, for example, there was point where St John’s Road and Thurlow Road (I think) cross it right at the top of a hill. It was a little demoralising to get there and to think "three more visits to this point before I finish". None of the hills were steep, there were just lots of them! I found this quite challenging, but have to say that, had I not been chasing a PB, none of that would have mattered. If you want to run a PB, this probably isn’t the course for you, but if not, it must be highly recommended.
In short: Fantastic from start to finish - congratulations to the Race Director! In full: Report on the full marathon.
This was my first Taunton Marathon. I ran the Flora London Marathon in 2007 and 2008, but didn't get a place this year, so I selected Taunton as my 2009 marathon. This was mainly becaue it is reasonably close to home, but also because the reviews from past years seemed to be full of praise. And I have no hesitation in recommending it wholeheartedly.
The organisation was faultless from start to finish. Mr Lewis. if ever you tire of organising Taunton (and I hope that you don't, because I want to run it again and again), then you could have my vote for you to take over the Bath Half from the shower that organise that event. But please don't leave Taunton - at least, not while I'm still capable of running!
Pre-race organisation was faultless. Although the website only became active relatively close to the event, it was possible to confirm the date of the event well in advance because the Somerset County Council information centre seemd to know all about it. Race details were comprehensive and helpful - parking arrangements, the detailed map of SCAT, clear instructions for baggage drop, changing and shower facilities, the way the one and two lap events would work etc etc.
On arrival, there was an atmosphere of calm confidence. I had no worries about the event - there was a senhse that it would run like clockwork and that is exactly what happened. The commentator was helpful, the start pens were clearly laid out and ... off we went.
Marshalling was faultless from start to finish - what a cheerful crowd you were - thanks! The volunteers from scout groups etc on the water and sponge stations were brilliant. When I shouted on the second lap "You're doing a great job!", the standard reply was "No, you are!". All good stuff! And it makes a difference!
Weather was perfect - no wind, dry, not too hot. It did warm up a little after midday, though. It's a while since I have run in an event with sponges and they helped keep the body heat down as the day warmed up - spot on. I had been warned that there were no energy drinks on the course, so simply packed a few gels and this worked fine.
At the end of the first lap, with five out of six runners peeling off to the finish gantry, it suddenly looked very lonely. I hooked up with a guy running his 97th marathon (my fifth!!) and ran with him from mile 14 to mile 24 (thanks, Michael!). He then demonstrated that he had a little more in reserve than I did and sped off, but it was well worth pairing up on the second lap, otherwise it would have been a tougher challenge.
The commentator picked out individual runners at the finish, which was nice, and the finishing tunnel was unhurried and friendly. I managed to record a PB by some way, which added to the success of the day.
I will be back! Highly, highly recommended. Date of review: April 7, 2009
In short: Serious runners should avoid this event like the plague. An inexcusable and appalling lack of organisation. In full: I ran this event for the first time in 2008. It was a complete shambles then. I made the mistake of thinking that this was caused by the weather conditions and decided to enter it again in 2009, believing that it would be much improved. How wrong could I be? A complete waste of money and I wish I had run in the Forest of Dean Half, or the Stafford Half, or even the Silverstone Half. In fact, anywhere but Bath.
It is difficult to improve on what fellow reviewer Steve Pemberton wrote in the aftermath of the event. A cogent and well-written review and it is worth looking at. It was the fourth review to be written on the 2009 event, so select 2009 from the dates in the panel above and go to the last page (and if necessary come forward one page again).
Like Steve Pemberton, I acknowledge that this is in many ways a great event. (If anyone writes a review that says "Tim Synge says 'a great event' ", I shall be most disappointed!) The charity fundraising, the "feelgood" party atmosphere for first timers, the opportunity to experience a Half Marathon - can't knock it. Where it fails utterly is in taking any interest in the serious or semi-serious runner. I finished just inside the first 1,000 runners and was really surprised, as I ran round, not to see many more club vests. I shouldn't have been surprised. All the club runners were in Forest of Dean, or Stafford, or Silverstone. And they were well catered for - I know, because I have spoken to lots of them. They all gave up on Bath years ago. And now I am giving up on it too.
I write this even though I recorded a new PB - by seven minutes!! At least I salvaged something from the day. I paid £32 for this event and so here are 32 reasons why I was so disappointed by it.
1. Trains. The organisers clearly did not enter into a sensible dialogue about services with First Great Western or the company that runs the trains that look like buses on rails. ("Running an event for 15,000 people, many of whom live in Bristol, Swindon etc? Yes, we'll put on a couple of extra trains, no problem. That's what we do for big events.") There was a train from Bath to Bristol at 13:42 and the next one was timetabled for 14:29. Hopeless!
2. Trains. Dull course in a beautiful city - long run along the railway arches on the A36 Lower Bristol Road.
3. Buses. I was fortunate not to need the Park and Ride, but apparently there weren't enough buses. (By the way, anyone who argues against these issues on the basis of cost clearly hasn't worked out the gross income of this event: £32 x 15,000 PLUS all the sponsorship income.)
4. Cars. Lots of interesting car dealerships on the A36, but not much of the beautiful city.
5. Traffic. How did the PA commentator have the gall to blame the police for not sorting out the congestion? It's not a new event - the organisers should *know* what traffic to expect and plan accordingly with the police on road closures.
6. Start time. A start time of 11.00am really is too late. FoD started at 10.00am and the runners were protected from the heat of the day. It's not difficult, really, if you think about this one.
7. Delayed start. Not again, surely? The more I go into the older race reports, the more I kick myself for not expecting this to happen. Plays havoc with hydration strategy (and loo break planning!).
8. Start pens. I couldn't get into the 11.02am start pen designated for me as a Wave C runner! The marshalls had shut all the access points 15 minutes before the race. They sent me to the back. In the end I doubled back and hopped over the railings when no-one was looking!
9. Start pens. The signposting of expected finish times was a joke. Impossible to work out where you were "supposed" to be. Other reviweres have commented on the misplacing of slow/fast runners.
10. Start pens. The marshalls were unhelpful and unfriendly. (Usually I give a big thank you to the marshalls in my reviews ... )
11. Start pens. The wave start was ridiculous. As noted, I was in Wave C, due to go at 11.02am. Although I have a chip time, many runners will know that the gun time retains a certain importance in some circles. Why did the 11.02am start set off 2.5 minutes after the 11.00am start, when the latter had cleared the start line completely within 1.5 minutes? I suppose we will never know.
12. Mile markers. The announcer proudly told us that, because the lampposts to which markers were affixed were not always exactly a mile apart, they were only an approximation. There were lines painted on the road to show the exact measurements. NO, THERE WEREN'T!!
13. Did I mention that this was held in the beautiful city of Bath? I didn't see the Abbey or the Roman Baths. Would have been nice to run over Pulteney Bridge. May as well run the event on the edge of Bath. Why not talk to the University about starting there?
14. Marshalls. Sorry, chaps, you let us down. All the marshalls in the two-lane section just stood and watched, except for one solitary hero who had been given the team megaphone and who did his best to separate left and right streams.
15. Marshalls. A friend who was further back than I was reports reliably that the marshall accompanying the lead runner was extremely and unnecessarily rude to the runners in the way that he "requested" that they make way for the lead runners. (Oh well, perhaps the event *is* for serious runners after all.)
16. The event DOES NOT cater for serious runners.
17. How could one of the three lead sponsors, Lucozade, think it was acceptable to turn up without any pacing bands to distribute? Many runners rely on these and this was extremely disappointing.
18. Back to the start. Could anyone hear or see anything remotely sensible during the aerobic warmup? What was that about?
19. The PA commentator was pretty unentertaining. I must admit that I sent feedback to the race office after 2008 suggesting that he didn't keep referring to "this prestigious event" when all around him was so patently chaos, so perhaps that cramped his style a bit!
20. I rather suspect that this event is dominated by a profit motive. Does anyone know what the accounts look like?
21. £32 is an awful lot to pay. Never again ...
22. As many reviewers here have observed, there are quite simply too many entrants allowed. I suspect that 7,500 runners would be a sensible maximum, so the organisers should reduce applications to 10,000. That's still in excess of £300k to spend on this event, chaps!
23. The medal. What is it? Why doesn't it say "Bath" or have a cityscape or any suggestion of a design on it? Was it cheaper to set up a bit of meaningless text on the machines? What does "more than miles" mean?
24. It would be really nice if the first person you encountered over the finish line was someone who gave you the medal. I spent several minutes thinking I hadn't got one until I found it in the bottom of the goody bag.
25. The goody bag. Tea bags? With a sell by date of March 2009? Hmmm.
26. The goody bag. Cranberry sauce? Hmmm.
27. What a nice big T-shirt! I don't think I know anyone that big.
28. Why all the sponsor logos on the T-shirt? Oh, more income, I see! Well, I'd rather have a breathable T-shirt please. Like they do in Bristol (which is very well run at a lower cost, by the way.) Even if I could wear it without suffocating, why would I want to?
29. Baggage reclaim. I wrote about this last year. Why do they persist in grouping running numbers around expected finishing times. It's bound to cause congestion. It does.
30. It is simply not true to suggest that 2008 was a one-off caused by poor weather conditions.
31. Forest of Dean sounds much nicer.
32. Oh well, I could only think of 31. I wish this event continuing success. Just don't fall into the trap of thinking it's for serious runners. It's not. Date of review: March 17, 2009
In short: Excellent pre-marathon warmer-upper In full: I entered this race simply to have a go at a 20-mile run before taking on a full marathon in April. As far as that objective goes, it was most successful. The race falls at a good point in the Spring schedule and the course is pretty inoffensive, with only a couple of short inclines on each lap.
Negative points: the weather (I don't hold the organisers responsible for that, but it really was quite nasty at times running into a headwind which had gathered speed over the flat broad River Severn!) and the pre-start briefing - I see from the other reviews that there was one minute silence for a runner who died last year, but I wasn't aware of this at the time. Surely the speaker could have used a megaphone for something this important rather than assume he could reach 600 runners in the wind in an open field??
Positives: the course, the spacing of the drinks stations, the collection point for the timing chips being so handy and the use of velcro ankle chips. The results were posted quickly too, which is always a bonus.
A most satisfying day. As it was my first 20M, the PB was duly obtained too! Date of review: March 8, 2009