In short: A really good race that I think will become a great one. In full: I got a PB on this so the headwind couldn't have been that bad! Actually the cold conditions suited me, as I hate running in warm conditions, so it was nice to be kept cool. The race lacks a bit of atmosphere but I think using the rugby stadium will help with that aspect next year, as will some more participants which I hope will be the case as this is a lovely event that deserves more support. The running shoe trophy was a real talking point and it is nice to have something you can display - it's hard to prop up your medals! Would prefer a t-shirt to a cap though.
In short: Really pleased I did it but accommodation is a problem. In full: Let's start with the biggest negative - decent accommodation is almost impossible to find as the hotels rack their prices up considerably for this weekend. I ended up in a horrid guest house miles out of town and I know many others who fared similarly.
The atmosphere at the start is brilliant and running over the Tyne Bridge while the Red Arrows fly overhead is just fabulous. The problem then is that the next 11 or so miles are as dull as dishwater with little atmosphere and just a dual carriageway for scenery. The last mile running down to the sea is enjoyable though and you just have to do a sprint finish! The Red Arrows are there again at the finish which is great but it does mean that the crowds are watching them instead of cheering you!
Good idea that they print your name on your running number - you get loads of personal shouts of encouragement as a result.
Medal and t-shirt are really good and I am proud to have done this event. I didn't find the hills too bad but then I do live in Wales so maybe I am used to gradients. I would do this one again but getting to Newcastle by train from Wales was just horrendous while the rip off accommodation issue is likewise off putting. If you live within a couple of hours drive of Newcastle though you'd be daft to miss this one. People obviously do though because despite what they say there is no way there we 50,000 on this one, nearer 35,000 I would say based on what the marshals told me.
In short: Needs fine tuning to make it a great event but it has massive potential. In full: You get the feeling that the organisers have never actually done this sort of thing themselves, otherwise they would have realised that starting a half marathon in June at midday has the potential to actually be quite dangerous. Fortunately on this occasion there was sufficient cloud cover to stop it from getting too hot.
The distance markers are pure fiction - apparently I ran the first mile in 5 1/2 minutes! The last mile meanwhile was more like two!
The pre-race information was sketchy, I never actually received the email information pack that others had and when I tried to download it from the website it would not work. An example of this is the baggage reclaim - my friends and I turned up hoping for the best having not been able to ascertain if such a facility was in fact available because there was confusing information on the website.
The water stops definitely need working on - the volunteers manning them were clearly inexperienced and could not cope in spite of valiant efforts and there were not enough water stops in any case.
That's the negatives out of the way and they are all things that the organisers can easily solve if they put their minds to it. There are are lots of positives!
The scenery is fabulous much as you would expect from Pembrokeshire, especially once you reach the Ridgeway Road. OK the hill that you have to run up to get there is huge and anyone interested in doing this route should realise that there are far more hills than you would normally expect on a half marathon. However in some ways my friends and I felt that this was a positive thing because having done this run we now feel extremely confident about doing other half marathons later this year. So in that respect the Wales half marathon and indeed the full marathon can be marketed as a real challenge.
As inexperienced as the volunteers were, they worked really hard and were always charming and very supportive, and helped to make the day an enjoyable one. The support from the locals when you ran through the villages was also really appreciated. The man in Manorbier with the garden hose was a lifesaver!
Starting in Pembroke Castle was a nice touch, but highlight of the day has to be the finish in Tenby - the crowd was amazing for such a small town. Date of review: June 11, 2012