In short: Thousands of Santas and lashings of cranberry sauce! In full: This is one of the best runs you could do. I did it last year and it was great, I think last year was slightly better for me but not because of anything to do with the race itself.
It's great to see loads of people getting into it, the atmosphere was brilliant. It started as soon as we left our house and looked down to see two of our neighbours heading for their car in full Santa gear! All the way into town there were Santas at bus stops, walking and cycling into the city, it's a great run.
Other people have said it's a surreal sight and it really is, especially when looking up from Victoria St toward the Flyover or back down from the top of the flyover and all you can see is thousands and thousands of Santas.
This is certainly a run and not a race, despite what some people thought on the day (why bother speeding and weaving between people, getting in the way to get 2 yards ahead and end up stuck behind more people?). Even so, prams, dogs and walkers should stay at the back for safety and convenience of people who do want to run. In almost every other event I have done, that's how it happens and nobody complains, it's not about being anti-family or anti-fun, it's about not wanting to get smacked in the ankles by prams being pushed by crazy obsessive santa-parents or tripping over dogs and hurting them (which I thankfully managed not to do but I did have a near miss toward the end!).
I am a bit confused about who the official photographer was this year though, last year it was marathon-foto.com but not sure who it is this year. Anyway, it's a brilliant run, doing it again next year and it's just great fun! Date of review: December 7, 2009
In short: Beautiful course, good atmos, it's not always about medals and goody bags y'know In full: I really liked this course, it was picturesque and mostly flat with, as other people have said, only the one pretty big hill at the 8K point (3K on the 5K course).
At the start line, it was a bit difficult to hear the warm-up but it was ok. There was a fairly fast start (although I was quite close to the front so maybe other people found it slower?) and right away we were into vast countryside with wildlife around us. There was only a little bit of mud along the 10K course that I saw, not bad at all.
The run was great and I definitely liked the change from running Sefton Park where the majority of the races I run are held. I enjoyed getting a mince pie afterwards, I liked seeing all the animals (the elephants and otters were out and about in their enclosures and I saw one giraffe in it's 'house'), it was a very welcoming non-elitist atmosphere, I bought a t-shirt and didn't mind that I had to pay and not get it free and I thought the kit bag was cool (actually saw a lot of them at the Santa Dash a week later so obviously more useful than some people thought). This was a race to raise money for a lifeboat appeal, we're in the midst of recession people aren't in a position to give as much as maybe they were last year so it's in pretty poor spirit to criticise the lack of goody bag and medal in a charity run that doesn't charge as much as some other events. Pre-entry and pre-race info stated clearly why the RNLI is not in a position to offer these so if you really are that driven by those rewards, maybe this isn't the race for you.
Although I wasn't able to take advantage of the free safari park entry (I don't drive), I thought that was great as an incentive. I'll definitely do this race again and I hope to see loads of other people doing it too!
One other note about the antlers, someone suggested that they be plastic so they don't go soggy in the rain; whose going to fund that? Cardboard breaks down so is less harmful to the environment and if you really want more durable antlers, do as other people did and buy your own. You can reuse them if you do the race every year and the RNLI will not have to put the entry fee up to cover the cost of plastic antlers. Date of review: December 7, 2009
In short: Good but with some disappointing moments In full: Pros: Great scenery Brilliant supporters Well marshalled Diverse route
Cons: Questionable first water station Ran out of t-shirts First part of route is all uphill and gruelling
The day started well with great weather and a lot of people in high spirits. There was the odd display of poor sportsmanship and posing, lol, but nothing too excessive.
The port-a-loo was pretty disgusting (I won't detail why...) but I think everyone gets that at least once in their racing 'career'!
The uphill start was an uphill struggle and I did get disheartened that I was dropping back so far already but the good weather and the brilliant Liverpool scenery made up for it.
By the time I got to the first water station however, most of Prince's Park was littered with HALF FILLED water bottles, ridiculous but I have seen this in all the races I ran so far. What disturbed me was that the water station people (teenagers mainly I think, I didn't notice any adult supervisors) were giving out half filled water bottles...what was that about? I also overheard one of them saying "They're taking them!" Putting 2 and 2 together, I think they'd run out of water and were collecting up the half filled to 'recycle' for us, the slower runners. I thankfully didn't drink mine but other people may have. If this is what was happening, it was shoddy and downright disgusting.
Also I finished after 3 hours, poor I know but at least I can always get better than that! But there were no t-shirts left. NONE. Plenty of goodie bags, plenty of medals...no t-shirts. I was so disappointed because for me, it keeps me motivated to get out running in my race t-shirts to remind me of what I achieved so far and I didn't get that with the Half Marathon. Why weren't there enough? Were people at the front being greedy and taking more than one t-shirt or were enough not ordered?
The last Otterspool stretch was great, a flat course along the Mersey. Had a bit of an odd experience when we got to one of the bridges as they had raised it to let yachts out and a small group of the slower runners were left hopping around trying to stop from cooling down waiting for the bridge to lower again. It was good to see that after 12.5 miles people were in high spirits and there was lots of banter going on before we made a last dash to the finish, lol.
I have to make mention of the supporters, although there weren't as many as I have seen at the 10ks and 5ks, the supporters who came out were fantastic. You will struggle to find better supporters than those from this city. Among the highlights were the guys and girls out around Devonshire Road on their balcony playing loud dance music and clapping a beat for us and the girls who were out at the end of their driveway who looked like they hadn't slept yet blowing a trumpet randomly and yelling "COME ON KEEP RUNNING!" Brilliant.
I would hesitate to recommend this for beginners as it came across as quite a favourite with elites and clubs but I did enjoy the race itself so I think it's personal judgement. I did, however, feel a bit left out with not getting a t-shirt and the debacle at the first water station was disturbing. Date of review: March 30, 2009