In short: Awesome finish, but has potential to get much better (or a lot worse) In full: As most people have already said, the finish inside the Olympic Stadium on the track is the highlight of this race. It was a great atmosphere, running through the tunnel under the stands with past Olympic commentary and Chariots of Fire before bursting out on to the track.
The course itself maybe has potential for a fast time, although as others have said it is quite undulating in places, but nothing that I would call a killer hill. The park itself is still under redevelopment, so although it looks better than last years race there is still a lot of construction going on in some areas. Crowds were sparse in most places but there were a few pockets of decent support.
The downside - Too many runners for the organisation. I fully support the decision to go with a wave start, but the white wave I was in was massive and quite frankly some of the people in that wave shouldn't have been there as it was clear they were never likely to make the time for that group. Given the narrow start, and the loop sections there was a lot of dodging, braking and avoidance going on. As the organisers have said they want to make this event bigger and bigger, they really need to address this. Either have more smaller waves, or (and my preferred option) ask for proof of time. It looked like too many people thought "Yeah, I could do 10K in an hour" and then realised they couldn't.
Also for £32 I would expect a technical T-Shirt! I might do it again next year, although the price is steep and the race is ok, but you are paying for that stadium finish.
If you want that finish then I'd recommend it. If you've done it before or not that bothered, then I'd think carefully before entering. Date of review: July 20, 2015
In short: Good race with just a couple of niggles that could be ironed out In full: First time running this. The start area is great as it's in the Town Centre at the pub so there are plenty of good toilets, water and places to get a pre-race coffeee (or snack!).
The course itself is ok, with it mostly flat but with a couple of killer hills dotted in to keep you on your toes. Generally, it's pretty scenic although a few bits have you running through industrial estates and support is mixed with a fair bit at start and finish but only smatterings on the way round.
It's reasonable value for money as you get a technical T-Shirt, and a solid metal medal. Unfortuantely the medal is a generic one for the event organising company, rather than being race specific. Also there was no goodie bag and the finish had just a (small) bottle of water and no snacks, when I would have hoped for at least a banana.
You do also get a free finish line digital photo, which sounds good but they only have a photographer on one side of the finish gate so my photo is of two people I don't know who were between me and the camera. It would be better to have 2 snappers so you can cover more people.
Overall, it was a good quiet Sunday morning race and well worth doing as it was fairly local to me. Free parking at the finish was also good. Date of review: September 18, 2014
In short: good, well organised race although questions over the 10K distance In full: I did this race year when it was nearly 30 degrees, so the weather already made it feel better. The course itself is average with runs along main roads and housing estates, although there is a nice shaded 1K near the end which was nice. Organisation was good, and the goodie bag was nice at felt about right for the reasonable entry fee. There were also other activities going on to make it more like a family day. The only problem I have is to whether the course is actually 10K? I've spoken to three other people and each of them smashed a new PB, which seems unlikely given the undulating nature in places. Also all of our GPS had the course short by around 250m-300m. I know GPS is not that precise, but for that much of a discrepancy across different brands makes me suspicious. The organisers did say it had been measured with a surveyor wheel, but the lack of a certification means I have to take it with a pinch of salt. If you could get the course certified for next year that would definitely encourage me to run again. Date of review: July 18, 2014
In short: Race was fine but organisation left a lot to be desired In full: Firstly, the race itself was well worth doing. It had some minor slopes on it, but nothing I would really consider a "hill" so not too bad and I was able to shave 6 minutes off my PB. The crowd was good in places but not really of the same atmosphere as Reading.
The bad part was some of the shambolic organisation pre-race. I had booked a space in the "VIP" Car Park but after fighting my way through the gridlocked traffic (the stadium only has one entrance road) I was told the car park was full. How a car park with reserved spaces can be full is beyond me, as they should know exactly how many cars are allowed in? Eventually some extra spaces were opened up but felt a bit aggrieved at paying £6 for the honour of wasting time waiting for a space.
The other bone of contention, as many have said, is that there was no timing "pens" at all and everyone started as one big wave. Although I commend anyone for taking part, it was quite obvious that people who were not of a decent pace had just shuffled in wherever they felt and were either slow or dropping to walking. This combined with all 4000 odd people being let go at the same time meant I spent at least the first couple of miles dodging people and getting around them. Next year, if it's of the same scale, they need timed pens with wave starts and maybe separate the Marathon and Half runners as well.
Overall though, the race itself was good with lots of marshal support and plenty of water stops. If they learn there lessons for next year, I would certainly consider it again but I would still choose Reading over this one. Date of review: May 7, 2014
In short: Very scenic 10 mile course, with funky marshall headgear In full: First time I've run this, but will be back again next year. The course itself has a hill at about mile 2, but it's not that bad as it's more of a climb up than a sharp slog up. The good part is you run down it on the return! Once you've conquered that, the course is basically flat and a good chance to put the hammer down. Very well marshalled with each marshal having "unique" headgear on. Plenty of parking and having changing rooms with hot showers was a bonus. Would have liked a medal, but the technical t-shirt is excellent though. Nice you could collect this before the race, especially as after the race they were only left with XL and S I think, which left some people with interesting sizing choices! Weather was nice and very scenic with fields and horses en route. Also a name check on the PA as you cross the finish line was a nice touch. Date of review: March 30, 2014
In short: Nice weather, a nice course and a nice race In full: First time running this and enjoyed it. Shaved nearly 2 minutes of my PB. Organization was fine, if a little basic. More than one water stop would also have been appreciated. Otherwise good fun, and worth doing next year. Date of review: March 9, 2014
In short: First Half Marathon and will definitely be back next year, and great support. In full: This was my first Half Marathon and I had a wonderful time. Finished in 2:02:26 which was below my target of 2:05, but maybe could have gone faster if I wasn't dodging so many people. Bag queues were not an issue for me, as with my "slow" time and then hanging around in the stadium, by the time I got to bags I walked straight up and got mine. Also I was staying at a hotel, so can't comment on the shuttles/car park situation.
The race itself is great with some phenomenal support along parts of the course and a huge kudos to the people of Reading for coming out, and all the impromptu water and jelly babies stops en route. I'm sure if the weather had been kinder we would have seen even more. It was a great goody bag with t-shirt, snacks, drinks etc and the medal is excellent and solid.
The only downside for me was the stadium finish as the music was playing so loud you couldn't hear the crowd noise, plus you actually spend little time in there. It would be better if you could do a lap of the pitch, rather than just running down the short side.
Regardless I will definitely be back next year! Date of review: March 3, 2014
In short: Good fun race, apart from the killer hill at the start.... In full: First time running this and wanted to do some hill work as part of my prep for the Reading Half. Nasty short, steep hill at the start which the race seems renowned for, but the bonus is "what goes up must come down" so some nice downhill sections. Managed a new PB, but this was more down to my own fitness improving. Nice race and the start area gives a lovely view across the area, including Wembley Stadium in the distance. Date of review: February 16, 2014
In short: Nice course and something different. Shame about the price. In full: First time running this (and only second ever race) so I wasn't sure what to expect, but I was pleasantly surprised.
The course is nice and relatively flat with gentle gradients rather than any steep hills so is pleasant and comfortable to run. It's a 3 lap course which was nice as I could use the first lap to assess the course and learn where the uphill sections were, ready to speed up on the next 2 laps. I also particularly appreciate the water stations as they were available each time you went round on a lap. It was well organised and even had some jazzercise for warmups! I also have to commend them for getting the results and timings posted online the same day as the race.
On the downsides, it's not cheap. I know a big chunk of that covers the actual zoo entrance fee but it still seems pricey as the race itself is really just for the novelty factor of running it in the zoo. The goody bag was a letdown as well with a snack bar, bottle of water and adverts from the sponsors. For this sort of cost I would have expected some form of T-Shirt as well.
Luckily I was coming from local and it was just me, so I was able to keep the cost down but bring a few spectators and it soon mounts up.
I would be tempted to do it again next year as it is local for me and a nice course that I enjoyed, but it will all depend on the cost (or an increase in goody bag quality). Date of review: June 9, 2013
In short: Great race, with good organisation and a course that is suitable for all In full: This was my first race so I wasn't sure what to expect, however I needn't have been worried. It was well run, with a course that is not too challenging. There are a few hills but it is more undulating than hilly. Really enjoyed it. Only complaints is that official results (with times) are still not on the website. Also the wooden medal felt cheap considering the price paid. Will still do it again next year. Date of review: May 16, 2013