In short: Another British 10k, yet another shambles In full: I first did this race in about 2008, because a friend had a spare number. It was the most shambolic thing I had ever had the misfortune to take part in and I vowed never to do it again. I even went as far as to vow to never wear Asics again for as long as they were involved with this event.
Then this year, I was again given a free place, so put my principles to one side and turned up on the start line.
Yet again, a total and utter shambolic disaster. The organisers aren't capable of running an event for 2,500 people, let alone the 25,000 that took part.
This is clearly marketed as a charity/non-runners event, so most of the course is spent dodging walkers in green tutus walking 4 abreast with linked arms, or trying not to get tripped from behind by those to got stuck at the back of the start line and are desperately trying to make up time.
I read somewhere that the organisers of this race have tried a few times to get permission to do an alternative London marathon. God help us all if they ever get permission, because I wouldn't want them to organise a kids birthday party, let alone a city marathon.
I also feel sorry for anyone who did this as their first race and thinks all others are so uninspiring and stressful and unrewarding.
I was embarrassed to be part of such a disaster and I urge anyone reading this to warn anyone tempted to take part in the future to save their cash and possibly also their sanity Date of review: July 9, 2012
In short: Challenging, but do-able, and very smooth organisation In full: There are hills, hills, more hills and then when they aren't enough, some really windy hills. But despite the chilly breeze, the excellent marshalls were supportive all the way around and the course through the lovely countryside is enough to take your mind off, or at least provide a small distraction from the tarmac rising in front of you. Water nearly every mile, and a t-shirt and drink at the finish. Chip timing would be a nice touch, but given the field is only 500-odd, the times are still pretty accurate. Really friendly atmosphere with lots of support from other runners - thanks to the lady who gave me a supportive pat on the back when I slowed to a walk up a hill. It was the kick I needed to get running again! Date of review: February 6, 2011
In short: Great organisation, good route, worth the early start In full: A really good local race. A fairly challenging course, with a good (bad!) hill between 4-5km, but with a good downhill later on to make up for it. Well marshalled and a great guy on the mic at the start/finish who was lightening the mood and making everyone laugh. No water stops on the course, but not the end of the world. Also, I arrived 45 mins before the race start (15 mins before the end of the registration time) and had no problem at all parking at the club. The key must be to get there in plenty of time! Will definitely run this again in March Date of review: October 17, 2010
In short: Suberb organisation, atmosphere, crowds. Even the weather was perrfect! In full: This is the third year I've done the Reading half and I will keep on coming back. It is a textbook example of good organisation - the shuttle buses, bag storage, marshalls, water stations - everything ran smoothly. The excellent weather also brought out the crowds, so there was excellent support all the way around The last 3 miles are a bit dull - long flat straight road - but the support among the runners was great - everything cheering and willing each other on. This is how big races should be! Date of review: March 30, 2009
In short: Why pay £10 for your regular 10k to run in stunning scenery when you can pay £30 to run around Ikea carpark? In full: I'm not quite sure where to start with this one. The organisation was shambolic from start to finish. Before being herded into Wembley stadium, eveyone had to drop their bags off 5 mins away. Which meant 3 hours in the stadium without any money to buy water/food. And of course no one had thought to provide any drinks for the runners. The music was ok, and if you were in the first 2 waves of starters, you could actually see and hear it close up. But the later starters and spectators were made to sit in the gods staring at little dots on the stage. And so it began. The start was narrowed to avoid to much congestion but that just lead to the inevitable pushing and shoving. Not that anyone should have been in a hurry to get themselves onto the course. The first 2km snaked around the Wembley car park, before leading us on a glorious route which included looping around Tesco petrol station, through Ikea's car park and then around an industrial estate, past a waste recycling plant which stunk to high heaven. Mmmmm, just what I want when I'm running! The one water station was a welcome distraction from the dark, bleak course and the free finishers t-shirt was a nice touch, especially as it had hammered down with rain and everyone was soaked to the skin. I feel genuinly sorry for anyone who made the trip from out of London to run this race expecting something impressive. It was bleak, it was miserable and it was utterly depressingly dull. Yes, you got 2 t-shirts out of it and got to see a bit of music, but save your money next year. This is one to miss in the future Date of review: September 1, 2008
In short: The worst organised race I've ever had the misfortune of running In full: Just a disaster from start to finish. The organisation was nothing short of appalling. Firstly, the start is a total free-for-all, with no attempts made to start people according to their predicted finish time. This made an already crowded first few kilometres total carnage - people leaping on to the kerb to avoid the walkers, slower runnings being elbowed out of the way and faster runners dodging and weaving all over the place. Secondly, there is no chip timing, and not even a clock at the start line - unbelievable given the £30 entry fee. Not that anyone would be able to get a PB with all the walkers in their way. I don't know if the race was heavily promoted to companies, but a heavy proportion of the entrants seemed to be wearing corporate t-shirts. Nothing wrong in that, but none of them appeared to be running and they seemed more interested in chatting to their mates than getting around the course. Special mention must be made of the 8 girls in fairy wings run/walking while all linked arms, leaving a gap of about 40cm for anyone who wanted to get past them. And not a marshall in sight to speak to them. The course is also really, really dull. Far from the riverside tour of landmarks, it spends most of the time doing sharp 180 degree turns and doubling back on itself. Most uninspiring And the goody bag contained a medal in a plastic bag (nice touch - they couldn't even be bothered to take them out of the packaging, let along put them around the finishers necks), some lip balm and an Asics catalouge. Not even a bottle of water. I really hope Asics see the error of their ways associating themselves with this utter shower of an event. I hope the organisers are utterly ashamed of this dreadful race, a total con and a total waste of time. I would advise everyone against entering it. Date of review: July 6, 2008
In short: My first, and definitely not my last In full: What a day! The atmosphere, the crowds, the organisation. This race is truly like nothing else. Ok, the weather was pretty crap, but that just gave me an excuse to give the office for why I was outside my target time. I now know why people just can't help but run this every year. I'll be back... Date of review: April 15, 2008
In short: Lovely route, great atmosphere. Every marathoner should do this! In full: All the best bits of a club run with all the best bits of a race. The atmosphere was really friendly - people chatting about training programmes and swapping tips. And the Gede Valley harriers were brilliant ambassadors for their club, having conversations and offering words of encouragement (and warnings of upcoming hills!) The marshalls were also brilliant - stopping traffic, handing out jelly babies and cheering everyone on, especially through the last few miles. Good changing and loo facilities and very welcome tea and cakes for everyone afterwards. Only minor grumble (and it is very minor, in an otherwise faultless event) is that the start got very crowded and the first few miles were on a pebbley tow path, which was a bit testing on the ankles But I would 110% recommend this run for anyone trying to build their distance ahead of a marathon. Brilliant! Date of review: February 24, 2008
In short: Beautiful scenery to distract you from some killer hills! In full: This was a brilliantly organised and very scenic route through some beautiful bits of the Dorset countryside. There were a few challenging hills from the start, the first being just before the 1 mile marker and the last being a long climb to the finish Excellent marshalling and organisation, including loads of car parking and water stations every mile I really, really enjoyed this race and there was a very strong field of runners, which was great, although those expecting times much over 2 hours might find it a bit thin towards the end of the field Perfect pre-FLM training, and a lovely part of the world to make a weekend of it Just one small grumble about the runners though... The organisers had been kind enough to lay on water stations every mile with a small army of people handing cups But after every water stop, I saw runners throwing their empty cups into hedges, over hedges and into peoples gardens The organisers have a hard enough job clearing up 13 mountains of plastic cups without making them rummage through undergrowth. Be a bit more considerate! Date of review: February 4, 2008
In short: A perfect introduction to the distance. I'd go as far as to say I'm hooked! In full: My first attempt at this distance and what a way to start. The organisation was pretty seamless - the day ran really well from shuttle buses to changing and bag drop facilities. A lovely course with enough hills to make you feel like you are working, but still confidence giving for those attempting a PB/quick target time. Good crowd the whole way around and a samba band for the last mile or so I'll be back! Date of review: March 27, 2007