In short: Picturesque, well-organised and fast In full: I've seen a number of criticisms levied at this year's Edinburgh half marathon, some of which I think are justified but many of which are not and, as we have to look at the overall package, I think the organisers did a pretty good job on the whole.
First, the distance: according to my Garmin the race was smack on. I was consciously running tangents, which many were not, since in the early stages of the race this involves accelerating aggressively to overtake other runners in often congested sections of the route. Merely going with the flow will easily add another 0.1 miles to your run (i.e.161 metres).
Second, refreshments: this is always a matter of personal preference and you will never satisfy everyone. I cannot personally understand the need for gels or sports drinks for a half marathon, but gels were available at the last two stations (only one which was officially going to carry gels according to the briefing). The water bottles would have benefitted from sports tops, but this wasn't a big deal for me.
Transport: My own situation was probably unusual in that a training injury (torn soleus) recurred at 19k and, being bloody minded, I hobbled the last 2k on one working leg. You can probably imagine what I thought when I found out that my transit bus back was more than a mile away from the finish line!
Facilities: toilets at the start were inadequate for the size of field. I queued for over 30 minutes and just made the start (which was 1 minute early - not helpful). Many behind me had queued for almost as long with a choice between starting late or crossing their legs.
The positives: Edinburgh has a great combination of "big event feel" without being too big. The course is scenic, fast and flat and the organisation is generally very good. The local support is excellent, the marshals were great and it's definitely in my calendar for next year.
In short: Fun race but not flat! In full: I didn't run this in 2012 but saw there was a lot of criticism over course length, which was apparently a bit short. Since the course is 4 circuits of Reigate Priory Park the only part the organisers could easily extend is an uphill drag 2/3 of the way around the circuit which, I imagine, is what they did this year to make up the distance. If this is what happened it adds quite significantly to the vertical profile of the course.
My Garmin measured a total elevation gain (and equivalent drop) of 623', which I don't think qualifies as "flat" in anyone's book. It actually equates to a mean incline (going both up and down) of 3.8% across the course. As a muddy cross-country route with these undulations I don't think the course could legitimately be described as "fast" either.
That said, the race is friendly, good value, well organised and marshalled in a beautiful park and we were greeted with some rare sunshine on Sunday, so it's definitely in my diary for next year. Date of review: February 19, 2013