In short: Never again In full: People and businesses sometimes make mistakes and sometimes things happen outside of anyone’s control – but having experienced first hand the shambolic and dishonest approach of F3 Events I feel compelled to share my experience.
I’m not going to say never do an F3 Events event, but if you do, then you’ll go into it forewarned and frankly I think you’d be a mug to ever get involved with them. I certainly won’t ever again.
I’d read some negative comments about the previous year’s event on Runners World but (foolishly) assumed they’d learn from their mistakes and take action to improve the competitor’s experience.
First, and to be completely fair, the Royal Windsor Trail Half Marathon is a lovely course and a great run. The medal’s nice. That’s um, it.
I did a group booking for eight of us which got us a £5 discount on the advertised £32 entry fee. So, £28.55 per person because they add a £1.55 booking fee, per person, at the checkout.
One week before the event they sent out the race numbers with a letter saying “it is recommended that you take a bag with a change of clothing and money for any refreshments that wish to get before or after the event”. Then we all get an email with exactly the same wording and an image attached advising that there is a £5 charge for baggage drop. FIVE POUNDS! For something that should be included in the cost of entering the event.
Of course I, and many others, questioned and challenged the charge on their Facebook pages. In response we were told that they were encouraging people to leave their kit in their cars and that bag drop was ‘optional’. Quite the opposite of the text in their correspondence. We were also told that the scouts who were doing the bag drop, and a charity, would benefit from the extra charges.
I asked the lady that took my bag this morning which scout group she was with. She wasn’t. So where has my £5 gone?
Both the F3 Events and the Royal Windsor Trail Half Marathon Facebook pages have had all the ‘visitor posts’ deleted. They’ve also deleted any negative feedback on their posts.
If they ran the event with the diligence with which they’ve been scrubbing their social media clean then I might not be writing this review but right from the start it was an utter shambles.
We arrived on site 45 minutes before the start of the race and joined the baggage drop queue. You’d think that for £5 you’d receive some sort of gold standard service but we got to the front of the queue about 5 minutes after the race had started. It’s no wonder it took so long to take the bags in – we’d not been sent luggage labels so each competitor’s number had to be written down, the label attached and then of course there was a monetary transaction – which was a surprise to some people.
Bag dropped we jogged nearly a mile (a good warm up) to the start area where we found 5 portaloos (to serve 2500 half marathoners plus however many ran the 10k event). 25 minutes after the race started we crossed the line, the ‘wave start’ long since abandoned, and with hundreds of people still stuck in the baggage queue on the other side of the river.
The run was challenging, picking my way past slower runners who should have been in a later wave (lots wearing headphones and oblivious to others) and allowing room for faster runners to pass me, I presume they’d have liked to be in an early wave.
It was hot too. So it was a surprise when the first water station just wasn’t there. When I did get to a water station it didn’t seem very hygienic – the volunteers plunging their hands and a cup into a giant bucket of water. But at least I got some water – apparently they ran out on the course for later runners. Unforgiveable.
And so to the finish. It wasn’t where I thought it should be. It was about a quarter of a mile further away. A 13.34 mile half marathon.
And the goody bag? That would make up for all their shortcomings wouldn’t it? For over £30 you’d expect a banana or a Mars Bar wouldn’t you? Well, no goody bag.
I feel a bit guilty for encouraging my friends to take part with me. I hope they enjoyed the run and the scenery. Date of review: May 22, 2016
In short: Quietest marshals ever - we need some encouragement! In full: Really well organised at the start and finish (though finding the finish area water was a bit of a problem). Great route with a challenging hill and great support in Henley. On the down side the medal was (apparently) exactly the same as last year's - doesn't even have the year of the event on - and the majority of the marshals were quiet as church mice. Date of review: October 11, 2015
In short: Loved it! Where do I sign up for next year? In full: This is a great course. I'm a first timer so missed the heat and sun of previous years, the weather was just about perfect today, light rain and a bit of a breeze. The marshals were first class, all very cheery and encouraging despite standing in the rain, and the organisation was fine too. Dithered between road and trail shoes - I don't think it really mattered but went for trail and didn't find there was so much tarmac to make me regret it. The trails don't need specific shoes but I appreciated the extra grip. Definitely in the calendar for next year. The horse brass medal is lovely but a bit of ribbon to hang it on wouldn't go amiss. Date of review: July 12, 2015