In short: This could and should be a fantastic race, but a large number of runners requires better planning In full: This is the closest I've got to a home town half-marathon and I would love it to be a regular feature in the racing calendar. Plenty has been said about the negatives but there are also some positives: 1. The supporters were great - lots of enthusiastic people were out despite the early start 2. The entertainment was great - both the organised and ad hoc (eg the garden DJ near mile 10)
Building on the psoitives I would love this race to continue but to do that there do need to be some developments: 1) Immediately after crossing the start line the road narrowed and went around several corners, there was also an awful lot of street furniture, road cones etc. As a result it could only be expected that the race would immediately slow as all these obstacles were negotiated. Ideally the race would start with a long wide section - resolving it could be as simple as starting in the other direction down Broad Street and heading off down Hagley Road? 2) To compound the "obstacle" course at the start the pens were chaotic - for the benefit of doubt I think most runners were trying to get into the right place to start but were unable to due to the general congestion in Broad Street. Introducing a runners only area around the starter pens would also allow for better policing of the pens - not sure where Birmingham would find room for this in the town centre, but if they're going to close off the inner ring road anyway they could start just off Fiveways and head out of town on it. 3) The finish area was located in exactly the same place as last year but had been significantly compressed - last year there seemed to be a much better flow. Surely it wouldn't be difficult to move everything back and have a few marshalls encouraging everyone to move along?
None of the problems are insurmountable, and if they can be solved this will be a great race. Even though I was in the black pen and crossed the line within a minute of the start I found the start worryingly dangerous and if these problems cannot be solved I will not be back. I have done all 3 of these and this seemed to have the most problems.
In short: Great scenery, friendly runners, hard last hill! In full: I really enjoyed the race and set a new PB. The day would have been fantastic but was tempered by the runners collapsing, I hope they are ok.
It was great to do a smaller half as most of my half marathons have been at larger events and I will definitely add this to the calendar.
Tea and cake stall afterwards, goody bag, technical T-shirt and showers / changing rooms were all great. Date of review: September 27, 2010
In short: Great race, great scenery, great marshalls - one of the first races for ages where I've chatted to people on the way round. Would definitely add to the diary for next year Date of review: January 17, 2010