In short: Needs Work In full: I ran the Bristol 10k last year and had a brilliant experience. It was a fantastic race.
This year I have to say, the route, the suppot and the marshals were all excellent. But there are some serious issues in the organisation.
Firstly, the start pens were abysmal. The White pen may have been alright, but the Red pen had runners/walkers in it who had put their estimated finish times as 70+ minutes. Decisions like these left an awful lot of weaving to get through traffic.
Secondly, there was no water at the finish for the later finishers. We came in around the hour mark from the yellow wave and had nothing. This is just plain unacceptable and dangerous from a health and safety point of view.
Thirdly, the bag queue. Ludicrous. The brave lads from the air cadets did their best but it was like they were just put there without a plan. No sequence or order to the bags behind the desk, and no security at all. people were just pointing at bags and asking for them and they were handing them over. Plus the hour long wait was just awful.
We didn't have a problem getting a medal or a tee shirt but I can understand why people did have problems. There was no control in the finish funnel at all. The actual handing out of goodies took place at least 200 meters after the finish line and could therefore have been much more spread out. It also needed much more marshalling.
The goody bags (Ha! Shocking excuse for a goody bag...) containing the tee shorts were all in open boxes and people could practically help themselves. They need to be behind desks and controlled by someone.
Same with the medals. The medals should have been handed out way earlier in the funnel before people could walk back and get more. Usually you get the medal almost right after the line but for some reason the medals were handed out by a bunch of kids with boxes just wandering around handing them out to anyone that asked for one.
Ultimately, there is no excuse for running out of these things. Everyone prepays so they know how many of each item they need to buy. I find it hard to beleive that with 12,000 entrants, and 3,000 no shows, one third of entrants took either an extra medal or extra tee shirt (Or both).
It needs work. I was going to enter the Bristol Half but may have a rethink after yesterdays debacle. Was going to run it with the missus (her first) and she'd be gutted if she ran 13.1 miles for the first time and didn't get her medal/t shirt for a job well done. Not to mention paid for!! Date of review: May 12, 2014
In short: Well organised and supported event In full: What a wonderful day. The weather was glorious, though a couple of degrees lower would have made it a bit more bearable.
The runners village was well set up, with refreshments, stalls, and most importantly an amazingly well organised bag drop and collection!
Goody bag was excellent too. Sports drink, raisins, chocolate biscuit, cereal bar, sweets - all the things you need after a race. The medal though was a bit disappointing. It was really small. Nicely crafted and good weight/quality and the design is good but would benefit from being bigger.
The course is fabulous. Mildly undulating, there are a few "slopes", mainly to go over roads and railways. Nothing too taxing though. The course is designed to run through the town centre 3 times and the support there was MAGNIFICENT. The town came out in full force it seemed.
When out of the town centre it was more sparsely populated, but thats to be expected, though there were still people all over the place and plenty of kids on jelly baby duty.
There were some great spectator hotspots (Pubs!) which looked to have opened early and also had a great presence at key parts of the course. However, the slope at about 12.5m was horrible!! But thats personal as I was shattered :-D
One of the best events I've ever done. I smashed my PB by 11 minutes (Set in Cardiff in October). Difficult to work out how much of that is attributed to the course though as I trained much harder for this (In prep for the Paris marathon) and have lost a lot of weight, but definitely quick enough.
Highly recommend this race. Date of review: March 17, 2014
In short: Nice course, nice grounds, shoddy organisation In full: Weather held off and was a chilly but bright and dry race.
Organisationally, the event was a shambles. From the 3 course changes announced before the event to on the day shenanigans (More later) there seemed to be very little actual organisation. It was further hurt by Longleat's decision to open the park during the event which meant spectators either needed to pay the entry (At a 30% discount) or enter the fun run (£2 cheaper than the discounted rate)
Despite there being mention of timed start pens, I only saw the sub 40 one. The rest were hidden by swathes of people, not helped by the distinct lack of marshals trying to organise people properly. There was a PA system you could barely hear and no-one had a clue what was going on. I didn't hearIt ended up just a mass funnel of people of varying paces.
This was exacerbated by the Fun Run. There was supposed to be a 3k fun run taking place 5 minutes after the start of the main run. But people didn't seem to be able to tell what was going on (Lack of marshalling/decent PA contributed). So all the fun runners also started at the same time.
I spent the first 2k weaving in and out of people including, rather dangerously, children. In a fun run situation fair enough, but when I'm chasing a PB I'm not always looking down far enough and nearly rattled a few kids.
After that debacle though, I have to say the race was good. There were some KILLER hills. To say that marshals were sparse would be an understatement. If there was an emergency, it would take 2-3 minutes for a marshal to even get notified they were that far apart.
The problems return during the last kilometer. As runners were running up the finish straight, people who were already finished were walking down the same router, and I was having to weave around them too! Once again, no marshalling to keep runners and finishers separated.
The medal was good, the goody bag was shoddy. The tee shirt was good but paid extra for it.
The best part of the day was the attractions in Longleat which we did have free entry to (Except the safari park). The saving grace of the event.
I had fun, but have been to much better organised events and wouldn't do this one again with the current arrangements. Date of review: February 10, 2014