In short: Fantastic In full: Interesting route through country lanes , very hilly, but didn't come here for a pb, and hugely enjoyable because of it. The marshalling, organisation and welcoming friendliness of the event are outstanding and ill definitely be back next year. Hats off to everyone concerned, and if anyone is reading this and wondering whether to have a go, don't hesitate. Date of review: April 29, 2013
In short: Improves every year - close to perfect now In full: It's hard to see how this event could be improved. It compares favourably with every other big event I've taken part in and the organisers make small improvements each year. This was my fourth time, and have yet to be disappointed in any way.
The course is nearly flat, not quite a billiard table with three inclines, but none of them are arduous, each amounting to around 20 metres. It starts off on wide long, straight roads and gets narrower later, so it is easy to settle into a steady pace and rhythm. The system of staggered starts with colour coded pens should be used by all big events; handling that many people successfully takes a lot of careful planning, something many others don't seem to be able to do. I have never felt uncomfortable, ill-informed, or unhappy in any way with the organisation of the Bristol Half Marathon and would recommend it wholeheartedly.
The marshalling was efficient, as always, the people of Bristol turned out to cheer everyone on, with jazz bands adding to the festival atmosphere.
The course shows off Bristol's natural beauty to the full, going out and then back under Brunel's suspension bridge, past the historic harbourside and around Queen Square. There are a few cobbled streets that add to the character and charm of the route.
I always find the runners friendly and supportive. A lady near the end was struggling and everyone rallied around to help her along.
This has become my main event each year, and is as good as a big, city centre event could be. Congratulations to the event organisers again; this deserves to be amongst the top events of the running calendar. Date of review: October 1, 2012
In short: Bring strong ankles In full: Likes: Views across Somerset. Superb medal. Friendly runners and marshalls.
Dislikes: Expensive compared with similar local events and got stung another £5 for parking - Ouch.
The course: Started off with standard cross-country terrain of paths and tracks. Then a lengthy double-back section put all the fastest people passing each other on a narrow footpath that was already busy with air cadets and dog walkers. I had a near collision and was glad to clear that section, only to find the race transforming into a crazy roller coaster ride of sustained high speed downhill running over greasy mud, broken rocks and loose earth, followed by steep climbs, including one long flight of steps. This was too dangerous for me; I was lucky to escape with only a slightly turned ankle. If this is your thing then the Cheddar 10k is a 5 star race. Date of review: June 18, 2012
In short: Flat and fast - just as advertised In full: Very flat, very fast; faultless organisation; enthusiastic, friendly and competent marshalls; all the distance markers in place and clearly visible; scenic country lanes through farmland. The roads weren't closed, but didn't need to be; hardly any traffic, and all the cars waited patiently.
In short: Good event, but leave your stopwatch at home In full: A warm evening on a National Trust estate, starting outside the house, with a friendly, welcoming atmosphere, enthusiastically and competently organised and marshalled.
I was expecting on/off road and hills, but wasn't quite ready for the narrow, twisty, stony paths through woods, jumping logs and branches, queuing for stiles and gates, running down steps, all of which was enjoyable, but slow. No distance markers and being held up for minutes at a time with no chance of overtaking meant this wasn't a 10k where the finishing time meant a lot.
But it was enjoyable, a bit different and just down the road for me so I'll probably come back next year. Date of review: May 25, 2012
In short: Good race, but not 'flat and fast'... In full: ...and no medal. Every other event I have participated in has had a finisher's medal, and whilst this isn't the main reason for running, it's certainly a factor. My family are quite proud of my collection; a water bottle doesn't quite jingle with all the others.
The course was undulating, not flat as advertised, but constantly climbing or descending. None of the hills were steep, certainly not by North Wales standards, or prolonged, but they just kept coming.
Otherwise, a thoroughly enjoyable event. The start on the bridge was nice, with the brass band playing. The route was wonderfully scenic, on closed roads, with views across the water for most of the route, a section running alongside the beach and small waterfalls next to the road. The marshalls were great, and the runners very supportive. The organisation was good, though for next time a couple more portaloos at the start would reduce queues, and a marshall supervising the bag drop at the end should be essential, otherwise it all went like clockwork. I would happily do it again, and it was definitely the kind of event you'd recommend to a novice. Just... please can we have a medal next year? Date of review: May 15, 2012
In short: A triumph of organisation over bad weather In full: Hammered by the rain and lashed by the wind, yet everything went like clockwork. Big thanks to the marshalls who kept cheering us on, and to the pub half way that had Acker Bilk playing 'Strangers on the Shore', on speakers outside on the road.
There were a few hills, a couple not too bad and a bigger one, but after 7k it was all flat and downhill except for a brief rise just before the end. The course was completely traffic free, and the country lanes very pleasant. There wasn't much opportunity to admire any views because of the weather.
Nice medal, great technical T shirt. Easy to recommend this event and I'll definitely be back next year. Date of review: April 30, 2012
In short: The marshalls were very friendly In full: The start was delayed by 15 minutes as the queue for the car park was very slow-moving, causing a tailback to the motorway. The reason for the queue moving so slowly was a combination of two factors: firstly the entrants were told in advance that there would be 'a small fee', for the car park, but it was not until arriving at the point of payment that the amount of the fee was disclosed, so most cars were paused as their drivers looked through their wallets, about 10 - 15 seconds per car; secondly, there were only two people collecting parking money. A bit of simple maths and you have a flow rate of 12 cars per minute maximum. With hundreds of cars all arriving between 8.30am - 9am, there was never going to be any possibility of everyone being parked before the start time. The parking fee should have been sent out in advance, and if it was the Worcester Warriors rugby club taking the money they should have some idea about traffic and flow rates. I'd be surprised if the local police didn't have something to say about the way this aspect of the event was organised.
Arriving half an hour early I then had the three obvious requirements: toilets, baggage drop and starting area. None of these were signposted. I had to ask marshalls where everything was. When I got to the bag drop it didn't give me any confidence in its security, (just a piece of string with one marshall - no disrespect to him, but I took my stuff back to the car and ran with my car keys). A marshall later told me there was another bag drop next to the start but I wasn't able to find it.
The delay to the start caused problems with staying warm, with obvious implications for injury risk. It was a clear day that would warm up quickly, so light kit was essential, but it started with frost on the ground and a biting wind. Not a good start.
The tannoy system was inadequate. I couldn't hear any of the announcements until getting close to the front.
The run itself was very hilly. 'Undulating' was an understatement. The course was surprisingly dull; although billed as the 'Worcester' half, you would be wasting your time looking for the cathedral, or any buildings, or, well anything at all really. A few fields, some trees, a bored looking crow. The marshalls were friendly enough, the water stations well managed, and the people who turned out were most supportive. Special thanks to the gentleman at around 10 miles who gave me a rousing, "Come on, you can do it!", which on tired legs really did give me a tremendous boost.
The roads weren't closed to traffic; most drivers were patient and considerate, not the blue Clio though, who went past at 50 mph, narrowly missing a crowd of runners.
Lack of mile markers was a big problem for me. I was aiming to average sub 8 minute miles, and using the lap counter on the stopwatch with each mile marker. That worked fine until I started looking for the 6th, and the 7th, and the 8th, 9th, 10th. Eventually the 11th hove into view, by which time my pacing was hopelessly adrift.
Nice T shirt, medal ok. But I got up at 6am and drove 70 miles for a frustrating, disappointing race. Date of review: April 16, 2012
In short: Absolutely brilliant In full: Beautiful scenery, villages and country lanes. Shared with traffic but roads very quiet and drivers patient. The warnings about the hills were no exaggeration, and there is no possibility of a pb. But this event isn't about speed, it is small, friendly, superbly organised. The hogweed trotters club deserves massive credit for providing the particpants with such a good experience. it just doesn't get any better than this. Date of review: March 25, 2012
In short: Good, but needs to make some changes In full: I trained hard for this race and was rewarded with a good pb time, due to the flat, fast course. The route was good, especially the barrage section with views across Cardiff Bay in the sunshine.
The marshalls and assistants were very helpful and friendly, making the event very welcoming.
There were some problems for me though that made a big difference to the enjoyment of the event:
1. Signage was very poor. The red boards placed at ground level were invisible behind the crowd of runners. This made it difficult to find the correct place in the pen, the mile markers were easily missed, (the first one I saw was number 4), and the drinks stations arrived completely by surprise. This problem is easily fixed by mounting additional, smaller signs 3 - 4m up on lamp posts, and would probably have an impact on the congestion.
2. The congestion in the first three miles was ridiculous. I was expecting to finish in 1h 40m, started in approximately the correct position, and then found my way blocked by people moving at 2h 30m pace. This happened again and again, making it impossible to get into a proper rhythm. Every corner was a slow mass of bodies struggling to find space;I didn't start to relax and enjoy my race until mile 7 and lost a lot of time. This was especially galling as the main attraction of Cardiff is the fast course. Many people around me were looking for pb times and were exasperated.
3. The congestion meant that runners were spilling out from the boundaries of the course out and around pedestrians, bollards, into the other carriageway etc. which suddenly became a problem when the cones were separating the runners from moving traffic. Some frantic marshalls were screaming at people to stay on the correct side of the bollards, but were positioned wrongly, the warnings coming too late to be of any effect.
If the change of route was because Cardiff wants to grow its half marathon, then the organisers need to be careful not to ruin the event in the process. These kinds of numbers need more efficient signage, and direction of runners into appropriate pens. It simply isn't good enough to rely on a few words in the booklet; it needs runners to make an active selection of anticipated finish time on the application form, with colour-oded numbers being issued accordingly and clearly marked pens for each group. Two, phased starts, as at Bristol might also be necessary.