In short: Excellent little, local race In full: Wonderfully organised race, with a nice local atmosphere about it.
The course is pretty much pancake flat, with just a steady descent at the start and a very short incline towards the end. The roads were live to traffic, but being a Sunday and with plenty of marshals around, this did not prove to be a problem.
With a limit of 300 participants, it was never going to be overly busy so pacing with other people was tricky at times, but also made me push harder to catch up to the groups ahead of me.
There was a water stop at 5k, served in plastic cups. I'd never drank from a cup during a race before so more of it ended up over my face and up my nose than in my mouth - more practice needed for next year!
There was even a finisher's medal and goodie bag too, full of high quality gels, a pen and a banana.
Well done to the organisers and Chepstow Harriers for hosting it - will defo be back for more next year.
In short: Worth doing at least once in your life In full: First of all, this is the most expensive race I have ever entered and I've run plenty of half marathons over the years. What you get in return is a pretty well organised race with plenty on offer.
I found the 2 lap course both an advantage and disadvantage. It was a positive because after the first lap, my buddy and I found we could push much harder in the second lap because we knew what was coming up, taking full advantage of the downhill sections and so on. My spectators that came to watch me also preferred the system because they were able to see me twice; there was also a constant flow of action to see without any large gaps in between. The big disadvantage is that the system wasn't enforced so people were all over the place with one idiotic marshal actually riding his bike right in front of the Lucozade station, blocking loads of runners from grabbing a bottle!
The course had far more undulations than I expected, though I still felt it was a fast course and certainly PB potential to be had. The start desperately needs sorting out, perhaps into waves and people need to put themselves in the right pens when starting out. I was in the last white pen and there were people around me clearly running slower than 9 minute miles when I was running at 7:30 minute miles, bang on target pace to get into that group.
The goodie bag was decent and the system to get people away from the finish area and de-tagged was also efficient.
It is quite an expensive event to enter and is currently the priciest event I've run at so far. You do get a lot for your money and I imagine the road closures are probably the most expensive element, especially with all the cars I saw being towed away on Saturday!
All in all, I'm very pleased I decided to enter and it's one of the best spring half marathons in the UK at the moment. Date of review: March 4, 2013
In short: Fast course but make sure you get there early to start in the right group. In full: It's a nice, flat course with some minor congestion problems at the beginning but nothing too major. I managed to PB by quite a margin and would have possibly done even better if I had been able to get closer to the front. The entry fee is a tad pricey but then it did go to charity so I'm not against doing it all again. The atmosphere was good and runners generally friendy towards each other. Date of review: September 24, 2012
In short: Disappointing but there is potential In full: Whilst there were no major faults with the race, there were enough minor ones to convince me to not return.
First the good (for me):
Start was fine for me because I was in my pen with an hour to go. The pens should have had a couple of missing barriers every few metres to allow for people to slip in and out more easily. Toilet facilities were plentiful, I was able to go three times without a queue at all.
Now the bad:
Start was too congested due to lack of a wave release. This congestion didn't ease up until mile 5 or so for me.
The dual carriageways were dull and the steady inclines didn't help.
I found the crowds and supporters along the course to be quite lacking, with very little noise (possibly due to the rugby loss the day before).
Screw cap water bottles! After the huge fuss made over promoting the water supplier, I was shocked to be handed a screw cap bottle where most of it went everywhere before I'd even taken a sip. I'd heard some poor souls nearer the back had to go without at the first two drink stations due to stocks running out. This is unacceptable and it's the runners at the back that need it the most. There was also only one energy drink station, every other city half marathon and some smaller ones have always handed out two. The last two drink stations should have been brought forward by a mile each, there was no point in one being 0.5 miles from the end.
The goody bags were poor. Cheap knock-off energy drink and cereal bar were the most welcomed items but toothpaste and teabag samples?? Also, the lack of medium t-shirts after only 2 hours was also poor. How many XL runners were there??
I'd spent a lot of money over the weekend staying in a hotel, getting to Cardiff, entering the race etc etc and I simply felt it was very poor value for money. Won't be running it again and will not be recommending it to others.