Okay, I ran poorly so any runner’s perception of how good an event is will be coloured by his or her result.
I really want to give a 10/10 rating to this race. I first did it under the original EDF Birmingham Half Marathon guise in 2008 and have done the race several times since, running very well on occasions, despite the infamous ‘hill’. It is my closest big City commercial race and despite being a proud Black Countryman, whisper it but I actually have a lot of time for Birmingham and Brummies. So I don’t have any axes to grind; it’s just that every year there seems to be something not quite right.
One year there were queues at the finishing line. Several times there has been consternation about the over zealous security when the NIA was used as a baggage store. Continual course changes for no apparent reason abound and this year was no exception, resulting in a very odd and twisty first 3 miles through the arse end of Digbeth. I guess the City Council wants to promote ‘Eastside’ which is why we were shunted out to the environs of Millennium Point to start. I do think this reduced the ‘big City’ feel to the race and the number of spectators as a result.
Of course some gripes may be levelled at ‘Great Run’ series in the round. c. £35/40 for the 13.1 miles distance is now the norm for Birmingham and its companion races. Meanwhile I see it is a mere £23 for Coventry Half Marathon.
However I think the biggest gripe for me this year was the lack of coordination with public transport. The Great Run website correctly identified Moor St station as the nearest public transport hub; omitting to mention that the main train operating company using it, London Midland, did not start operating trains until c.930. My nearest London Midland Station, Rowley Regis had its first train leave at 10.10 a.m., exactly the same time as Orange Wave race start. Hello! On the Wolves to New Street line there was the ridiculous spectacle of a 2 coach train being akin to a sardine can, whilst from Stafford some competitors failed to make the start line because of engineering works.
This wouldn’t happen in Manchester. It wouldn’t happen in London. The Great Birmingham Run saw 20,000 runners and many, many more supporters bring much needed £ into the City Centre on a dull Sunday in October. Wouldn’t it at least be an idea for the City Council and the race organisers to ensure that people could be welcomed and encouraged by liaising with those providing transport?
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