To whom it may concern,
First of all I’d like to clarify that I’m not criticising the charity itself or the participants, but the event organisers. I’ve heard poor reports from other locations but I’ll stick to what I have personally and directly experienced. Today I participated in the Bristol run (6 miles in 1 hour 10 minutes thanks for asking) and at this time I don’t expect I’ll be signing up for it again in the future.
It struck me almost immediately that College Green had been chosen as a high profile venue and then the running course shoehorned to fit into the streets around it, rather than priority being given to the course being fit for runners as one might expect.
Where to begin; it was less of a route and more of a course around which participants had to run multiple laps (8 laps for 6 miles!) to make up the distance. This in itself was not too much of a problem but considering each lap had two uphill and two downhill stretches (each short yes but enough to interrupt your stride) going over the same ground repeatedly gets tiresome quickly. Add to that having 1 mile, 3 mile and 6 mile ‘runners’ on the same course at the same time meant not only getting ahead of the slower participants but then repeatedly having to work your way around them on each lap.
Compounded by the poor to non-existent marshalling for much of the course meant that the slower runners, walkers, pink marching band, kids on space hoppers, four generation families strolling side by side, people walking toddlers, people with pushchairs were all over the width of the course instead of keeping to one side to allow others to pass them. Again, I’m not having a go at anyone that’s getting out there and doing something for charity but the sheer lack of organisation or consideration that had been spared for the runners at this so called ‘organised charity RUN’.
The course itself was at best inconvenient and at worst dangerous. Much of the course running along both the road and the pavement so it was strewn with drain covers, gutters and kerbs, none of which are too friendly under foot. A far portion being on cobbled streets added to the risk of slipping or tripping. Pavements unexpectedly interrupting the course border can also be difficult to foresee when forced to run in a tight pack when the course suddenly narrows from five metres to two metres.
Not only was the route poorly planned for running on but the organisers had failed to clear the course of parked cars, not to mention the many cars pulling into and out of garages along the route. Cars were not the only interruption though with many a pedestrian not only strolling along the route but also crossing the route, often absent minded of the fact that they were directly in the path of oncoming runners; another indicator of the poor marshalling efforts.
I would have walked away before finishing the first lap if I could easily refund the on-line sponsorship that has already been paid. I’m happier knowing that from the beginning I chose to independently and directly support an alternative charity (there is a whole other debate to be had on whether it is feasible to spend £9million on administration for a proxy/middle-man/distributor and whether the recipient charities would be able to raise such levels of awareness and donations directly).
All in all a multitude of failings made it difficult for most runners to get into a comfortable stride and enjoy the event. Off the top of my head I think that the event would have been far smoother had the course taken place along the A4 portway; the distance from the Cumberland basin to Sylvan Way is 3 miles and the A4 portway is often used for events such as the Bristol half marathon so there is certainly a precedent set for such a road closure. Alternatively the distance still on the A4 portway between the foot of Bridge Valley Road and the portway rugby centre is 2 miles so this would minimise road closures, allow traffic to continue mostly unhindered, provide an almost entirely level, uninterrupted and spacious running surface needing only 3 laps for 6 miles and would offer the portway rugby centre as a staging area; granted far less prestigious than College Green but personally I think that the runners and their well being should be first and foremost for what is after all a charity run.