In short: Slightly amaturish organisation, but not a bad run In full: Overall, I enjoyed this race (my first time), and I'm very appreciative of the helpful marshals. But the overall organisation was a bit lax.
It was annoying to have run out of water at the top of the hilly section. Fortunately it was a cool, wet day, so this wasn't as critical as it might have been, but still.
I wasn't too keen on having to run on open roads with no pavement, but I don't suppose they have much option.
It was a little annoying to find my back left out in the rain at the end of the race.
Sorry, this sounds a bit moany, which I don't like to do as the individual marshals did a great job, and were obviously just 'following orders'. It was some of those decisions that were a bit questionable.
Like others have said, the memento was a bit disappointing.
I probably won't do the race again as it's a bit far for me to travel, but it's a good distance to run -- more challenging than a 10K, and with some testing hills in the first half. Date of review: December 14, 2009
In short: Brighton deserves better In full: I've done the Brighton 10K many times, and no doubt will do it again. But I do it because it's Brighton, which is a good place for a race, and because I have friends who also do the race.
The reality is that this is a poor event that has inadequate water stations and almost zero marshalling. There are 2 or 3 distance markers through the course. If you live away from the sea, like me, it's a great course along the seafront but it's hard not to feel that the runners are pretty much ignored apart from the start and finish area. The lack of water stations, and the amateurishness of the one they had, was inexcusable. Runners need water!
But as I said, Brighton is a great meeting place for friends, and for this reason, we'll keep coming back. Date of review: November 15, 2009
In short: Not one for grumpy old me - like me In full: Sorry, but here's a voice of dissent amongst the superlatives.
It's my fault, I should have given it more thought, but this really isn't a race for grumpy old men like me, or for runners going on their own.
The organisation was really good, and if you like 'organised fun' and/or going with a crowd of friends (especially if you're on the way to a party afterwards) you'll like this a lot. I just found it neither one thing nor another -- neither a party or a race, but something in between.
A lot of people seem to have had a great time, and for their sake I hope it returns. But I don't think that I will. Date of review: November 1, 2009
In short: Very pleasant surroundings with good mix of entrants In full: First time doing this race.
I'm just creeping back to fitness, so found it quite a tough run in places, but there's nothing that should put off a newcomer.
The organisation was great, with the exception of the entrance to the forest, where I was held up for 2 minutes, waiting to get through the narrow entrance.
The terrain is bumpy and undulating with one or two steep stretches where most people stopped to walk.
Weather was perfect, but I did wonder what it would have been like in heavy rain. Could have been pretty difficult underfoot.
All things considered, a race to recommend. Organised by the local hospice, so I didn't begrudge the £15 entry, and even brought along a bag of stuff for their charity shops. A worthy cause, and a very pleasant event. Date of review: October 19, 2009
In short: Flat, friendly, handy for spring marathoners. In full: I've done the race twice (2002 and 2009). The 4 x 5 mile laps around suburban streets isn't everyone's cup of tea, but for me, and I think many entrants, it's a long training run for the London, or some other, marathon. It does its job in that respect.
Crowd support from the local residents is indifferent at best, but most of the marshals are pleasant and encouraging.
I was very glad of the energy drink at the two water stations though a minor gripe is that they seemed a bit close together.
Liked the memento.
Didn't notice the loo shortage as there was a strategically-placed copse that did the job just as well -- for the men at least.
All in all, a good value event. Just a shame that given the location, we don't really get to enjoy the sea during the run.
I would probably do it again if it came at the right time during spring marathon training. Date of review: April 6, 2009
In short: Very pleasant race -- good course and well organised. In full: I didn't find the course as flat as some of the other reviewers. In fact, the first 3km is pretty much uphill all the way. Not especially steep, but relentless, and it knackered me.
But that isn't a criticism. It just means that for most of us, this isn't a PB course but an interesting diversion from the norm, with a range of surfaces -- road, field, woodland path, canal towpath -- to keep us occupied.
Newbury is a nice town, and just right for a race of this size; the locals were supportive and seemed genuinely pleased with the event.
Chunky medal and interesting goody bag makes this a good value race, and a very pleasant way to spend a Sunday morning. I'll do it again next year if it's repeated.
Thank you to the jovial and supportive marshals. Date of review: June 2, 2008
In short: Fast and flat In full: Overall an excellent race with nice medal and goody bag. Very fast, flat course around the lake. Easy parking.
Two complaints: I'd no idea where the start line was, so was unsure when to start my watch. And the numbers started to disintegrate in the rain, and a lot of people had to stop and reattach.
But the positives outweigh these complaints. Good event, generally well organised. It helped that there was a tri happening later in the day which attracted the garb vendors. Date of review: July 1, 2007
In short: Good event but a bit crowded In full: If you like races with that 'big event' feel, you'll be happy with Oxford. We were lucky with the weather -- perhaps a bit too lucky. It was hot, which probably explains the problems at the first water station. They were understaffed and couldn't fill the cups fast enough to meet the demand. Like a lot of people, I skipped that one, and felt dehydrated till the next one. Not a major problem, but a little inconvenient given the strong sunshine.
But there were plenty of positives to make up for it: very pleasant route through the city and the Parks, great crowd support for a 10K, good pre-race organisation with the tents.
The lack of goody bag/medal was a shame. We got a slightly gaudy water bottle instead for me to add to my collection. It's the 5th time I've been given one at the end of a race, so it will join the other 4 unused ones. Not a big deal.
My only other grumble is with the number of iPod wearers. This is a congested, tight course, and absolutely unsuited to iPod zombies.
Pretty crowded, which isn't a big problem for me as I'm a back-of-the-field plodder, but might cause difficulties higher up the field, especially if you're really going for a PB.
But despite those couple of negative points, this is definitely a race to recommend. I'll be back next year. Date of review: May 21, 2007
In short: So near, yet so far. In full: We were nearly halfway round when I overheard a woman in front of me wearily ask her running partner: "How many miles *are* there in this race?"
"Thirteen", he panted.
"Thirteen! Oh bloody hell!"
This struck me as a curious exchange.
Come on. You get up early one Sunday morning, pin your race number to your top and put your running gear on. You check the map to find the best way to Reading, and to the start line. Meet up with your running mate and stand in a frozen field for an hour, waiting for the last possible moment to take off your fleece and dump your baggage onto the truck. You queue for another half hour at the start, manufacturing yet more small talk before setting off. You then run six miles.
And then, and only then, does the question cross your mind... How long is this race I am running in today...? She was no first-timer either, on the evidence of her well-used Asics and pleasingly Lycra-ed bottom.
Reading does attract a lot of them. Lycra-ed bottoms? Yes, but I really meant first-timers. Numbers pinned to the back of hooded fleeces (with just two safety pins). Khaki shorts. Tennis shoes. Coarse walking socks. A duffel bag. Balaclava. Two litre bottle of Pepsi. All exhibits for the prosecution case. Not that it's of any concern to me really. I just find it odd that some people find it hard to distinguish between strolling in the countryside and running an urban half marathon.
I was a first-timer at Reading too, in 2002. Today was my third visit in four years, and I'm delighted that the organisers have decided to retain some of the race's most celebrated traditions, like delaying the start by half an hour to ensure that any odd toes escaping frost damage in the long wait in the playing field can be properly finished off. This makes sure that any trace of pre-race high spirits can be thoroughly subdued, greatly reducing the danger of releasing glee onto the streets of Reading.
But if you survive the annual, terrible start, you're in for quite a treat. Reading is surely the most frustrating of the big races on the calendar. Every year, the organisers so nearly get it right. Every year there are Everest-like, man-made organisational obstacles to overcome. Every year, emotional runners line up to denounce the race on the RW forum, declaring that they will never run this race again. Unsuccessful social gatherings in breweries are referred to. And yet. And yet...
And yet so much else about the Reading Half is good. For an urban race, the course is good. If you subtract the opening stretch through Whitley, and the final mile or two round the featureless business park behind the Madejski, it's an attractive course that takes you through the university, a variety of tree-lined residential areas and the town centre - all to the accompaniment of the best crowd support I've come across outside the big city marathons. One or two inclines aside, it's a flat course. Ten thousand-ish good humoured runners, many rehearsing their London Marathon fancy dress performances.
Delays notwithstanding, I enjoyed this race a lot. The first two numb-toed miles were challenging, but after that it just slipped by, without me really noticing it. My preparation for the race was poor, but at least I knew how many miles I had to run.
And I ran them.
www.runningcommentary.co.uk Date of review: March 10, 2005