In short: Starting to creak at the seams a little? In full: My 4th successive BG Half and the race is slightly starting to be a victim of its own success. Rain is always a distinct possibility for an event at Oct/Nov, but the car parking arrangements really showed the strain this time. Also the marshals with the 'If you are going to take this long, line up HERE at the start' need to be much more visible - I lined up exactly in line with the 1:45 guy and was passing run-walkers in the first two miles...
BUT all that said, there's always a really good atmosphere and plenty of local support considering we're in the middle of nowhere. And I think I have finally managed to conquer my fear of the 9-11.5 hill!
In short: Great community feeling In full: I drive through Bracknell quite a lot, and always thought of it as little more than a collection of roundabouts and dual carriageways, with oddly-alphabetically named housing estates set around. So running a half round it looked like the ideal way to discover if it's actually a real place or not.
And what I found from this race is that yes, it is a real place, with friendly locals who don't let a drizzly and chilly May morning stop them coming out to support runners along the 'testing and at times picturesque course' (to quote the local Councillor in the programme).
There are ups and downs (both natural and, through the use of subways under the roundabouts, artificial), there are twisty bits, there's one long sweeping uphill from about 6-8 that gives you decent views over the town as a whole - all in all, a good varied course. And it's almost entirely residential, which means lots of people come out and cheer you on.
Organisation was excellent and the t-shirt is top quality, making the race a bargain at this price. The kids staffing the water/sponge station were really funny, too.
In short: Well-organised and a nice flattish course In full: Attractive area; well marshalled; roads not traffic-free but traffic-very-light. One short sharp hill around 3 miles but otherwise nothing more than gently undulating. One very nice long flat straight near Mentmore Golf Club which was just glorious in the sunshine.
In short: Save a gasp or two for that hill at the end... In full: The heaviest rain held off and in the end we just had a cooling light drizzle. Unavoidably for this part of the world there are hills, and when you're shooting off downhill at the start you would do well to remember that you'll be coming back up that same hill right at the end! But the village makes you feel very welcome and organisation was very good, coping well with the conditions which required a late change of car park location. And you get a bottle of water AND a banana AND a bag of jelly babies! Nice!
In short: Nice town, nice people, nice hills (er...) In full: A really well organised event this, with the race HQ run like clockwork, ample marshalling, and genuinely supportive spectators, despite the occasional drizzle.
'At the edge of the south downs' should be read as a warning that you will spend (seemingly) more time going up hills than going down them! But this does mean you get a nice view across a valley - and the two lap course means you get it twice!
*If* I was forced to find one negative it would probably be that the closed roads seemed to be not quite as closed as might be expected from the word 'closed'... but this is really minor, there was plenty of room, and the drivers were all considerate.
Justifiably growing more popular every year - I would definitely return.
In short: Magnificent course let down by poor organisation In full: It's not every day you get to run round Trafalgar Square and up and down the Embankment, so the 30 quid entry can be slightly forgiven, but the poor traffic management at the start and the shambles of the baggage bays can't really. Word on the street is that the organisers of the FLM are putting on a 10k in London next year - probably be going for that rather than this.