In short: Very poor race with far too many problems In full: I entered the Oxford half late, after not being able to run in the Bristol half two weeks earlier. I was hoping for a PB, but the course was not flat, the conditions were not favourable and the organisational failings were too distracting.
Getting into the car-park was terrible - this is a football stadium for goodness sake. How on earth can they cope on match day and not on race day? Having managed to get to the stadium I was then faced with marshals who had no idea where the changing facilities were, where the bag drop was, etc, etc and finally found the bag-drop (which was a £1 per item cloakroom) with a queue that I stood in for 20 minutes. With about 5 minutes to race time I asked the race director if there was going to be a delayed start and when he confirmed there would be, I suggested it might be a good idea if he announced that to the 100 or so people still trying to drop their bags.
The start of the race was OK but the course was disappointing. Obviously the fact it was warm and a bit windy is not the fault of the organisers, but it was billed as a flat race and it was definitely not flat. Much of the course was through desolate factories, through under-passes and along boring dual carriage ways until we hit the town, where a 30cm wide path had been created between the curb and a line of cones... which was full of pedestrians and cyclists. Really, it looked as though no one knew or cared that there was a race on and I, along with the runners I could see in front of me, ended up in the traffic because the 'path' for the runners was too narrow and presented too much of a trip hazard. This was made much worse by marshals who seemed to have no idea that those aiming for fast times need a bit of warning when a turn (another bloody turn!) is coming up.
I think that Oxford is the kind of city that should have a half marathon. But the organisers really need to up their game if they want to attract runners and grow the event. For goodness sake spend a bit of time looking at the Reading half or the Bristol half to see how it should be done. Date of review: October 4, 2011
In short: As usual a testing race In full: My second time at the Finchley 20 and it was the same - positive - story as last year. A fine race, a great way to test marathon fitness and pacing, good organisation, knowledgeable marshalls and a challenging undulating course. The only difference from last year? Me! A PB and a top 15 finishing position. Thanks Hillingdon AC. Date of review: March 28, 2010
In short: A great race in perfect conditions In full: This is the second time I have run the Reading half and as a pre-FLM warm-up race I wasn't sure whether I would go for a PB of not. However after a couple of quick miles near the beginning I knew a PB was on and a PB ended up being a rather nice birthday present.
My only criticism - and one that is not levelled at the organisers at all - is the number of unrealistic runners in the red zone - I finished well inside the first 100 but needed to battle past literally dozens (if not hundreds) of runners in the red and yellow zones who either had a bad day or had been unrealisitc when they entered. I suppose that is all part of running a big race though.
All in all a great day. Thanks! Date of review: March 30, 2009
In short: A great training race for London and well organised In full: My first time at Finchley did not disappoint. Club mates had said that this is a great pre-London race and I was generally pleased that they were all right. It was a little hillier than I expected but then I think it is better to train hard and race easy and London is not as hilly! Already looking forward to next year (and the chance of another PB). Special thanks to all the marshalls who did a great job. Date of review: March 15, 2009
In short: A great race in spite of the weather In full: The organisers must have cursed the weather today which was pretty terrible, but they put on a really good race nonetheless. The marshalls were magnificent, enouraging us round despite spending 3 or 4 hours standing in the cold wind and rain. It was a tough day and I would say that the course is on the hilly side or undulating, but a good tester before the London marathon. Highly recommended. Date of review: March 16, 2008
In short: Great fun, but tough terrain In full: An enjoyable race, but definitely not a quick one. The hills, off-road tracks and stairs at the start mean that this is a good Sunday run and very friendly, but not a serious race. Date of review: October 14, 2007
In short: Good race and great weather In full: Generally everything went well - nice route, lovely scenery and reasonably flat. However one complaint - the exit from the carpark was a total shambols. Really frustrating and the last thing I need to was to sit in the car for nearly an hour after the finish - fix that for next year and you have a good race. Date of review: June 10, 2007
In short: A good fun half, but still not perfect organisation In full: Once again, the MK Half seems to have great potential but lack the refinement to make it perfect. On the plus side - great weather, plenty of drinks stations, good atmosphere, relatively flat. On the negative side - chip-to-chip timing did not work, collection of number on the day was a disaster. Date of review: March 19, 2007
In short: tough race and really hilly In full: The combination of wind, lots of hills and fairly uninspiring scenery makes this a marathon that is probably unsuitable for first time marathoners. A challenge for the more seasoned runner, this is definitely NOT the place to achieve a PB. Great time of the year though... Date of review: December 13, 2006
In short: A great first marathon In full: This was a great first marathon for me and I put in a respectable time. It is undulating, but the scenery and the fantastic support and marshalls made up for the hilly bits. I will be back and would encourage others to give this one a go. Date of review: May 15, 2006