In my experience the starting "pens" at the RHM are a bit of a free-for-all. Really tough to police it and tbh as long as slow runners don't stick themselves anywhere other than near the back (which, of course, they do) then it all kind of works itself out.
Reading is a better (and easier) race than High Wycombe IMHO but the course definitely tails off for the last three miles as you have to drag yourself down a desolate dual carriageway and then round a business park entry road. The rest of the race is good though and well supported, and the finish in the stadium makes the A33 slog worthwhile.
Re: the Abbey - the course went through the arch in 2009 I think but they moved it slightly last year so you don't go through the arch any more. The abbey ruins themselves are currently closed and totally neglected.
I realise i'm a bit late with this, but I thought i'd write it anyway in case anyone else sticks Hip Arthroscopy into the search tool.
In 2007 (aged 28) I was a keen footballer and runner, but noticed what I thought was a slight groin strain before a match. Went through all the usual rest routine but it remained for three months so I went to the GP. Physio didn't fix it, after which I went through 18 months of misdirection and misdiagnosis from a host of physios, specialists, and orthopaedic surgeons.
During this time i kept running (they all said it was fine), despite the increasing pain i'd feel when I was doing it. Luckily a doctor friend of mine did a secondment in orthopaedics and got her boss to see me as a favour. One arthogram/x-ray later and i was diagnosed with FAI due to a bone growth on my femur and damage to the acetabulum.
The decision to have surgery was a no-brainer as I was in a lot of pain, my body was totally lopsided and I just wanted to get back to sport. I had the arthroscopy in Dec 2009 and began the recovery. Sadly my expectations were a little bit high, as the surgeon told me the damage to my cartilage in my hip was so bad that I would definitely get arthritis and need a hip replacement later in life. He advised me to give up football and running completely ( I was quite shocked at 30 years old) - I haven't kicked a ball since and limit my running to the very infrequent 30mins here and there.
To the point - I am still in pain all over my lower body (the body compensating for one injury causes another - knees, hip, groin, ankle, you name it). I can't run. I can't play football. I do maintain the subscription here to inspire me, and in all honesty I don't regret the operation - the damage was already done and i'm not in as much pain as prior to it. It was the two years of misdiagnosis that did for me I think.
I guess if I could give some advice from my disappointing experience it would be to value your rights as a patient above all else and don't be afraid to get second, or third opinions. I don't think FAI will just fix itself so this relatively fledging surgery may be the only solution at the moment.
I don't mean to be one of the "hard luck stories", and i'm sure a lot of people have positive outcomes. Sadly for me running is now a thing of the past and I'm stuck with volunteering at races to be part of the occasion these days