In short: Very good all round, but room for improvement! In full: As a runner of the Swansea Bay 10km, I was familiar with half of this route, and the coastal path was beautiful as always.
It's a very flat route, so I was aiming for a PB, but ended up with a slightly below-average time. This was possibly partly due to the heat kicking in at about 9:30, so in retrospect, the dauntingly early start time of 8:30 was probably a good idea.
The atmosphere was great for the most part, undoubtedly helped by the weather, but much of the last 4km was through a deserted development site.
The race-pack contained safety pins. Nice touch!
The organisation was very good for an inaugural event, but had a couple of problems. In our race packs, we were told to start in the correct race pens for our number colour category. These pens were either not there, or not very visible. So I had no idea where to start. Big plus for the free parking availability near the start / finish area, in the multi-storey across the road.
The start area was reasonably well served by the leisure centre, a few stalls, and a few portaloos. It was very good really, but perhaps not quite enough for the 1700 turnout.
Marshalling throughout was extremely good.
In this weather, water was vital. Water bottles were screw tops. The first station left tops on, the other stations removed. I'm not sure what the spread of runners opinion is, but I like to keep the top, so that I can carry the water with me for a while, especially when it's as hot as it was on this morning. Perhaps give a choice at each station, with half of the tops removed, half not? Anyway, I'm sure we all accept that "sports tops" would be ideal.
The finishing area left me almost empty handed. On my first pass through, I missed more than half of the things I was meant to collect. You couldn't miss the medal, marshals there were ready with plenty to hand as soon as you crossed the line. You then had to look for the goody bag, while leaflets for other races were thrust your way. The bananas took some spotting, but I saw them eventually. I COMPLETELY missed the t-shirts, and the result time print-outs. I had to return twice to the finishing area to pick those up.
The goody bag contained a Lizi's Granola sample, Youghurt Fruit Flakes packet, keyring with sponsor's name, a pack of three "Zero High Five" electrolyte tablets, 2x SpaTone iron supplement, and a local cycle path map. T-shirt was cotton, with adverts. Medal was nice with embossed event name.
There was a mentioned cut-off time of 2:30, but this only related to the roads reopening, and the barrage bridge opening at approx 10 miles (hence blocking the route). Around 10% of the field finished after 2:30.
Good photos available on the website, and a finish-line video.
Very good all round! Would like to do it again, but I believe the date will clash with another local event next year, so that will make it difficult for many.
In short: Well organised, nice stadium start and finish. In full: While the route doesn't make the best use of the local scenery, as it is not particularly practical at this time of year, it makes good use of decent, mostly flat roads, with a nice start and end in the stadium, with its excellent facilities.
There was a surprisingly subdued atmosphere throughout, despite the stadium. The opening 600m around the track is an excellent start, as it gives the field plenty of room while it thins out.
Great marshalling, with a presence at every important turn, and stopping the traffic when required. No chip timing, but not really necessary, as the finish line was very well staffed.
A good spread of abilities in the field of 200, with a handful of 1 hour plus finishers.
The turkey piece, which is in the oven as I write, makes a great alternative finisher's prize, but makes for a relatively minimal good bag together with a bottle of water.
To give only 3 out of 5 is a bit mean of me, I'd give it 7 out of overall 10 if I could. Date of review: December 1, 2013
In short: Great atmosphere and organisation In full: It's a shame that some of the more picturesque areas nearby did not form part of the route, as on the whole it didn't really show off Birmingham's scenery.
You've all heard about the hills, during kms 7 and 18-19, so it's a bit tough.
Great atmosphere along the majority of the route, thanks to huge numbers of spectators, particularly at the start / finish. A few bands along the way, a gospel choir, and even students playing their music out of their front windows all added to the feelgood factor.
This was the greatest number of marshalls / volunteers I've ever seen at a race, so organisation was excellent. A couple of gripes preventing me giving them 5 stars for this category: No cross-city trains running early enough to get you to the event on time. No signposting of the event start from bus stops arriving in the city - particularly when you consider that many buses were getting diverted from their usual route. You have to get quite close to the excellently organised baggage area, to actually see signs for the baggage area, so if you're not familiar with the area, you might struggle to find it. Lack of clarity on assembly directions and signs (specifically White wave). Long wait in the pen for White and Pink waves.
A slightly pricey entry fee, but it was worth it for the huge organisation involved, and the goody bag was excellent. Contents: T-shirt (you were not reminded of the size requested, contrary to what they say in the info pack) Medal Water (Aqua Pura) Galaxy Cookie Crumble Powerade Foil blanket Eat Natural bar Belvita Breakfast Biscuit Halls XS single mint Power Bar Protein Plus Toothpaste Jointace Gel sachet (missing from my bag)
Certainly beginner-friendly, with plenty of 4:00+ finishers, and oodles of support.
I can see me doing this again, and now armed with knowledge of those hills, push for something nearer my PB. Date of review: October 21, 2013
In short: Excellent atmos and organisation In full: Although the scenery was very nice, it was quite samey, and over that distance, maybe there could have been the potential for more variety.
It was my first marathon, so no PB hunting but I had an idea what time to expect. On the day, the heat put paid to a fast time, along with numerous short hills as we emerged from underpasses, and over bridges.
But the heat probably contibuted to the best atmopshere I've ever experienced, particularly at Willen Lakeside, and in and around the stadium at the end. Names on numbers meant that many spectators cheered you on by name, many children requesting and getting high fives (the hand gesture, not the energy gel), clusters of spectators enjoying the sun on grass verges away from the main areas, a few mini entertainment spots along the way, kids offering to spray runners with water pistols, a guy in the street with his garden hose out doing the same, very enthusiastic marshalls at every corner. I could go on about the atmos.
Exellent organisation, not a single unclear / unmanned corner, every mile marker visible, every drinks station well manned and signposted. Perhaps less obvious were the toilet stops, I don't think I noticed them all. Couldn't quite hear the PA system at the start, and the pacemakers didn't have the promised balloons.
Goody bag was unspectacular, but decent. The medal is excellent, then there was a banana, a mars bar, a nice cotton t-shirt (only Large size), and a bottle of water.
The stadium started to empty before the final finishers were in, it was a shame there was no other in-stadium ents to keep spectators in till the end.
Some good photos were made available, but only from a couple of good spots. I'm sure a couple of other spots would have made good photo points. The video at the finish line doesn't have the clock visible.
On the whole, excellent! Thanks to everyone involved. Date of review: May 8, 2013
In short: Very tough due to the conditions, but a great route and well organised In full: Heavy snow caused the race to be postponed by one week to the bank holiday. This may have affected the turnout, so there was not a huge atmosphere at the start and end, but there was plenty of 80s music, and a good PA. A free but unmanned baggage drop was available.
There was still snow, mud, and ice in patches along the route, but road shoes were suitable for about 75% of the course. From mile 8 onwards, it was mostly uphill, so together with the mud and fallen trees, this made for a tough route.
Mile markers and direction pointers were either rare, or difficult to see. However, marshalling was excellent, with loads of encouragement, and warnings of specific bad terrain.
There was a great atmosphere on and around the Ironbridge itself, and I imagine it will have made for some excellent official photos.
The goody bag included a Boost, and great medal, a good cotton t-shirt, and water.
Overall, I've been a little harsh with my overall score, as I think if the weather was better, the course would have been in better condition, and there may have been a greater turnout adding to the atmos.
This was my first go at this race (and only my second half-marathon), and I look forward to trying it again in the future, and probably giving it a better overall score if weather permits!
In short: Nice route and good organisation In full: Snowfall throughout the race added to the six inches already settled, but it wasn't too cold, and made for a beautifully picturesque run.
Only those who arrived early, were able to use the on-site car park (which costs £2.50). Others were forced to use the nearby Tescos, because of the snowy conditions. We were pushed into our parking spot by a marshall!
Over 400 runners were involved over the three distances (5/10/15km) which started simultaneously. The 10km race was the popular choice, with over half of the competitors doing this two-lap event.
The route was very well signposted, and well marshalled. There was a small crowd in support around the lap / finish area, and a good commentator on the home straight. The occasional dog-walker could be seen around the route.
A nice medal was given to all finishers, but there was no goody-bag. Possibly due to the absence of the energy-drink sponsor, who were not able to make it to the event due to the weather conditions.
This was Round 1 of a three round fortnightly event. Whilst there was a great atmosphere amongst the runners, there were understandably too few spectators willing to stick around until all the runners had come in.
Overall, a nice event, but to get an above-average score from me (a first-timer at this one), it would have needed a goody bag, more support, and free parking (or cheaper entry-fee).
Thank-you to the marshals who did a good job! Date of review: January 21, 2013
In short: Tough water obstacles, great fun, great camaraderie In full: Great scenery in Weston Park on this cold day, meant there were few spectators, but the competitors and organisers made a wonderful atmosphere.
Organisation was almost perfect, only a shortage of goody bags and t-shirts made me consider a score below 5 stars, but everything else was so good, and we've been promised t-shirts in the post. Route to venue was signposted. This was the first time I've found a raceday PA to be actually audible. The route, although complex, was well marked throughout. All tough obstacles were manned. A small changing area and baggage drop tent was available. Toilets were just about adequate for 500+ competitors.
Excellent support makes this very beginner friendly, but it's not for the feint hearted.
It was my first event of this type, and I'm looking forward to the next one! Date of review: October 28, 2012
In short: Nice event. Flat course. Few spectators. In full: Well organised event, on a fairly flat course. The poor weather that was promised held off for the duration of the actual race, apart from a tough headwind all the way home from 10.5 miles.
Goodies were handed out without a bag (possibly due to bylaws), and were hence minimal. Comprising an engraved golden shoe, a cap, and a bottle of water. Free massages were available.
Some parts of the course were a bit on the thin side, and required single file traffic, where participants were running in both directions.
Not many spectators were to be found away from the start / end / 7.5 mile point, so it could feel a little lonely if there were no other runners with you.
Very nice on the whole though! Date of review: March 5, 2012
In short: Well organised event on a flat course with various scenery In full: The multi-lap route looked dauntingly confusing on the map, but was very well indicated with cones and ropes, once you're underway.
The start path was quite narrow, meaning that the early stages of the race were a little overcrowded, and the curvy pondside section is potentially a little slippery. But apart from that, the course is flat, and very good for a PB.
Quite a strong field, with a quarter of runners finishing sub 19 mins, and everyone finishing sub 35.
A little confusion at the finish line after 100 finishers, as they had only brought out 100 goody bags. But more appeared shortly afterwards. Bags contained water and a nice sponsor's t-shirt. Date of review: November 20, 2011