Bristol Half marathonRunning enthusiast, founder of new venture freestak and blogger Simon Freeman gives his verdict on the Bristol Half marathon
Sunday 30 September 2012At 6:30am yesterday, the morning of the Bristol half marathon, as I walked out of my hotel to see what the weather was doing, there were almost perfect conditions for the race some three hours later. The night before, some of the runners I had eaten with were suggesting strong winds which would play havoc with any PB attempts that were being planned. But the morning of the race, all was calm and quiet, with a light covering of clouds which in no way threatened rain. It was going to be a great day to race. The facilities for the Bristol half marathon have developed over recent years to allow the race to grow. And with the number of entrants around 20,000 now, slick organisation is really essential. The lack of rain was a welcome relief for those who filed into their start pens half an hour or so before either the first wave was due to start at 9:30am or the second wave at 10am and before that, the baggage drop facilities had worked well, allowing most of the runners to warm up and get prepared before dropping their bags quickly and easily and heading to the start. Along the course there were four water stations manned by Army cadets and so the supplies didn’t run out, as well as energy gels in two locations and four toilet locations. With the commentary team, including Nick Anderson and Phoebe Thomas from RunningWithUs, and resident coaches for Men’s and Women’s running, keeping a constant stream of banter and information coming through the PA system, spirits for the runners were high as we waited for the off. From the moment the race was started by Bristol’s Lord Mayor, the chip timing system meant accurate finishing times for all the runners, so there wasn’t such a desperate rush to get over the start line. The course headed west through Bristol and pretty quickly on to the Portway, alongside the River Avon and under the iconic Clifton Suspension Bridge. For those not familiar with Bristol and the Avon, the river flows through a steep-sided gorge that the bridge crosses. This really contributed to the only minor issue I had on the day, which is that the gorge funnels the wind, in this case into the runners’ faces on the return leg along the Portway from around mile 5 to mile 9. After the long out-and-back section, the race entered Bristol for the final 4 miles. There were plenty of sights for the rest of the race and the crowd support was really terrific, gathering in noise as we closed in on the finish line, right where we started from. After finishing the marshalls gently guided the runners towards water, foil blankets, medals and goody bags before we found ourselves back where we had left our bags 13.1 miles before. There were many scenes of jubilation as well as a few tired and disappointed looking runners, but everyone I spoke to agreed that it had been a great day to race and a wonderful course with a well-organised event. I am certain that I will be back next year and I am sure the team behind the race will not have any problems filling their places once again. You can read Simon's running blog here, plus find out more about his new venture freestak by visiting the freestak Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/freestak
Running a race this weekend? We're looking for real readers' vox pops and race-day reviews and we want to hear from you! Click here for details.