In short: Excellent - except for the start In full: I travelled a long way for this, lured by the promise of a flat and fast course, and was not disappointed. There were a few barely perceptible inclines, otherwise completely flat. It is hard to imagine a course anywhere that could be flatter.
The organisation overall was really good; no big queues for car parking, helpful, friendly marshalls, good signposting, and absolutely the best goody bag ever, consisting of a big bar of chocolate, medal and a nice hat.
The only criticism, unfortunately is a big one; the start. I was only 10 metres from the inflatable arch that had 'Start' written on it, and did not hear any instructions at all. Normally at a small event such as this I'd expect someone with a loudhailer to be giving last minute reminders and then a count down from ten and an air horn, or something similar. Instead everyone just started running. Without the 'beep' of chip timing to give me a prompt, I started my watch at the arch. Like everyone around me I was surprised when after a minute or so the field bunched up and came to a standstill for a few seconds before moving off again. Then when I pressed the lap button at the 1 mile marker, the time was a minute and a half longer than expected, which made me run too fast for the next few miles.
I have just found out from reading another review, that the actual start was not at the arch, but after the temporary halt out on the road. This explains why my timings were all wrong.
I'm sorry to make such a big issue about this, but getting everyone off to a clean start at a clearly defined point is essential. There needed to be someone running down the verge explaining what was going on, because about 75% of the field did not have a clue.
I ran a very slow time because a period of illness had ruined my fitness, but it was a very nice day; cool, hardly any breeze; ideal pb conditions. This event has everything going for it, and I will definitely come back next year. Date of review: January 20, 2014
In short: Fantastic. Unmissable. In full: I absolutely loved this race. It was small, so easy to get in and out, no stress, no hassle, properly well organised by the most cheerful Marshall's ever. And they had printouts of the participants so as you ran past they gave personalised shouts of encouragement which made a difference as the legs started to get heavy. This is how it should be done. Well done guys, and I'll definitely be back next year. Date of review: November 17, 2013
In short: Good value, fast and friendly In full: Very well organised race. Big enough to bring out support from local people, I loved the steel band, all the high fives and the cheering. The marshalling and signposting was very efficient, and the event was small enough that you could park on the street within two minutes walk of the start, and then get started without any real hindrance; the roads at first were wide enough for the field to sort itself out over the first couple of miles.
The route was mostly flat, with one steady incline between mile markers 6 and 7, that wasn't especially long or steep, and one or two short rises that are over before you notice them. So it's easy to recommend this race to someone looking for a personal best.
The actual route was a little bit uninspiring, much of it being shared with the constant roar of traffic noise. There were sections against the kerb on busy A roads with just over a metre width coned off for runners. Overtaking there was uncomfortable. The marshalls were kept busy finding spaces for cars to get past at junctions and roundabouts, and the occasional impatient driver made this aspect of the race feel hazardous. The race organisers obviously were aware of this because there were messages about not using headphones on the website and repeated by tannoy at the start. They even went as far as to say that runners seen with headphones would be disqualified. However there were a great many runners wearing headphones, and nobody bothered them. Organisers should either enforce this rule, or simply warn of the dangers and let runners decide for themselves how important it is to be able to hear marshalls' directions.
At £16/18, it was very good value, the cost kept down by giving out only a medal, t shirt, and a bottle of water at the end, and cups of tap water around the course. Most runners are more than happy with that. Date of review: November 1, 2013
In short: Highlight of the year In full: This is such a good race, it has everything you could want. The course is almost flat, just four inclines, all very modest; scenic, with the Avon Gorge and suspension bridge to admire both ways. The out and back section allows you to see the elites and give them applause as they go past. Then the route changes to a tour of the old historic city.
The race planning is better than any other city centre half-marathon in the area; the race starts on wide streets and only narrows when the field has spread out. The phased starts and pens are clearly labelled, so very few really slow people were blocking the way. This is a major gripe with so many events, but Bristol has that problem completely sorted. If you are looking for a pb this is a good race to do it. But the experience is just as good for beginners; the marshalling always friendly and helpful, and people who want to plod around slowly, or walk, or wear ridiculous costumes and collect money for charity; all are equally welcome, and nobody gets in anyone else's way.
The local people always turn out in droves and cheer you on, by name if you write it on your shirt. There was a lady with a tray of very welcome jelly babies, a jazz band; the kind of fantastic atmosphere that makes you feel great.
I run this race every year now, and it's a definite highlight; something to look forward to. So congratulations to everyone involved in making this race so good, every year. Date of review: September 16, 2013
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