In short: Back for more! In full: This is a great race series over the summer, showcasing the Avon Gorge and the Suspension Bridge. It's well organised and friendly. The only downside is that the Towpath gets muddy in any winter, and the spring deluges have not helped its state, so currently not in a fast state. However, when dry the Towpath is pretty flat and there's only a short grass section at the start/finish which will cost a few seconds at most. Results are produced very quickly and it's a lovely friendly race. I'm only sorry to see it's not sold out this year, because it deserves to be! Date of review: June 19, 2012
In short: Need to sort the baggage tents, but otherwise a great race In full: I've rated this as a good value race because I want to highlight the fact that the race organisers set up a system of reduced price entry for local clubs. It was a great gesture and nice to see a big race with a corporate feel trying to keep in touch with local runners. I hope they keep the system going!
Only glitch was baggage reclaim at the end. No criticism of the cadets who were manning the tents, who were all very polite and helpful, but I think there needed to be more of them so that bags could be found more quickly. It might also help if numbers were allocated randomly rather than in projected finish order so that there aren't clumps of people all queued up by one section of the reclaim tent.
Otherwise, a flat course and decent organisation. A bottle of water and a chocolate bar from the goody bag kept me amused in the baggage queue! Date of review: May 20, 2012
In short: Friendly race on a reasonably quick course. In full: I hadn't done the Luton marathon before. It's a nice race, although it's fair to say that the course goes through some pretty varied areas, including a tower-block festooned housing estate. It does also go through some pretty countryside, so I guess there's something for everyone! The course isn't lightening quick, as there are a few climbs, but even the steepest is relatively short, so I doubt they are worth more than a few minutes overall at the front of the field. The water stations are cups not bottles, but isotonic drinks are also offered, which is a plus.
Starting and finishing at the leisure centre is a plus, because it means that there's somewhere warm to wait and that there are showers, etc. (although ladies only this year). Baggage storage worked efficiently, and the goody bag had a banana, a mars bar and a juice/water drink. I'm sure that the hand towel will have pride of place in the bathroom at Joolska Towers...
The time of year isn't necessarily great for those planning a spring marathon with a 16 week build up, so I'm not sure I'll be back for anything other than a training run with company. Date of review: November 20, 2011
In short: Good addition to the BUPA/Great Run series but not a fast course In full: The race information was very good; it gave all the necessary information and it was very helpful to have a course profile, given the hills in the latter stages.
Having your name and most of the relevant information pre-printed was helpful, as was the pre-printed baggage tag.
The water stations were efficient and I thought the crowd support was pretty good.
Things seemed to go pretty smoothly, all-in.
Great Run races are never going to be brilliant value for money compared to the smaller club-organised races, but if you want to do a big city race you seem to have to pay a fair bit these days to avoid it being a shambles...
I'm not sure if I'll do the race again because there are other, faster autumn halfs at a similar price, and courses which are equally tough but more scenic, so for me it probably falls between the 2 types of race. Date of review: October 26, 2011
In short: One lap wonder :) In full: I did the 20 last year and was back to do the 10 this year. Efficient, well-organised race. Field is big enough to warrant the chips which are provided. Mile markers were generally accurate (although I think 6-7 was long). Goody bag full of food which is a BIG plus after a race. Marshalls were friendly and drinks stations efficient. The club clearly go to a lot of effort to put this on and the race deserves to be successful.
Only real gripe is the toilets which were old-fashioned non-flushing portaloos... Date of review: February 21, 2011
In short: Enjoyable In full: For a race of its size, Reading runs well (ho, ho!). Getting to the start from the stadium/race 'HQ' is a bit slow, but they warn you about this so it's just one of those things. Water stations were sufficient and well-manned. 2 lucozade stations a nice touch for those of us using Reading as a marathon warm-up. For the most part, crowd support is good, but a band or similar along the A33 Relief Road would help - it is as exciting as its name would suggest ;) Your view on PB potential will depend on whether you come from the Fens or somewhere a bit more hilly; to my mind it's a fast course with only 1 or 2 short climbs which shouldn't upset your rhythm too much. For anyone (but especially a life long Royals' fan) the stadium finish is a nice touch. The roar from the crowd makes you smile! Reading 2002 was my first half marathon and the race has come along significantly since then. Date of review: March 23, 2010
In short: I think I'm falling out of love with Bath In full: I missed the great mud and significantly delayed start of 2008, but was there for the 2004 counterpart. I was also there for 2009's 30 minute delay. This year we started on time, but otherwise I was disappointed.
I'd say the 'runner's village' was a pretty miserable place to be before the race: the queues for the toilets (except those by the start) were horrific. It was difficult to get to the start due to the fencing which had been installed which made the exit/entrance very narrow. It was also difficult to get into the start pens if you wanted to do any proper warm up as there didn't seem to be many 'gates'. There were no male/female signs on the changing rooms this year, and I suppose that brought its own excitement... There weren't many places to sit and stay warm and there weren't enough places to get a hot drink to make up for the fact that there was nowhere to sit and stay warm.
The really frustrating thing about this race is that once you're on the course it's actually a good race. The drinks stations worked well and there was some effort made to separate lapped runners from the front end of the field and provide separate drinks stations for the latter which was much appreciated. However, the overwhelming sense is of a race which is focusing on numbers and not the 'race experience'. Please prove me wrong in 2011. Or at least find a way of improving 'traffic flow' near the race start/finish. Date of review: March 7, 2010
In short: I want to like it, but it missed on a couple of key points. In full: On a positive front, it has a super-fast course (those are undulations, not hills, unless you come from the Fens or similar!), the marshalls were lovely, the water stations worked well and the general 'vibe' is nice.
The negatives really need to be fixed: 1. Race organisers have no control over the weather. However, if they put the baggage tent and the massage tent in a field, some sort of boards on the ground would be sensible, just in case it's really wet and the ground turns to a slippery mess. 2. At least send the baggage tent tags out in advance. The queue for the baggage tent at 9.55, 5 minutes before the gun, was ridiculous and I'd guess part of this was down to the fact everyone had to write their tag when the got to the tent. I just dumped mine in the massage tent and a lot of other people had to do the same. 3. Queues for toilets also not impressive, although to be fair I couldn't quite work out why given there were apparently only a couple of thousand runners and what seemed like a lot of bogs. Date of review: February 21, 2010
In short: Good race with a couple of glitches to iron out In full: It was my first Bramley 20 and overall a positive experience. The course is fast and the marshalls are excellent. There are regular 'feed' stations with water and (at some) energy drinks. Course profile is included in the pre-race info which is a great help. 4 safety pins in the envelope also a nice touch. Only downsides were the toilets (pretty grim and the steps to and from the porta-cabins were downright dangerous in the wet conditions) and the late start. Not sure why we were delayed and it's always a bit of a pain, but there were plenty of announcements from pretty early on so it could be factored into preparations. However, the 2 small negatives are more than countered by the many positives. I wish I'd discovered this race before! Date of review: February 14, 2010
In short: Brilliant race. Deserves more ratings! In full: I've rated this race before and my views haven't changed. At something like Â£3 a race with a pretty generous prize list (plus spot prizes) and a lovely friendly atmosphere, it's brilliant. It's a fast course (the only downside is turning on a six-pence because it's an out-and-back course) and the marshalls are great. Love it. Date of review: January 26, 2010