Reading vs. Bath halfs

Thanks for all of your half-marathon suggestions. It looks like Bath and Reading are the two that would suit me most, mainly because they are easy to get to! So, I'd like your comments on these - which one should I do? One specific question - what is it like having to do two 'laps' at Bath?



  • Hidegard,
    the route travels out of the city and back in. The advantage is you know what is coming on the second lap ie hills,fast sections,best bushes to have a wee if you need one etc.
    The daunting and exciting bit is seeing the elite runners speed past on their second lap while you are still on your first and boy can they run.
    Last year i remember hearing the sirens and guys on bikes with load halers screaming 'move over elite runners'.Then this little Kenyan guy,must have been five foot nothing went roaring past with a pack in hot pursuit.I said to the guy next to me'they won't catch him'.They didn't.
  • I've just put my application in to do Bath. I'll be my first one and I've heard good things about it from friends who have run it before. I'm counting on lots of you guys doing it too to help with the motivation over the winter months!! My longest run so far is 8km, so I've a way to go yet.
  • I did Reading last year (my local) and the start was a bit of a disaster. People were arriving 30 minutes before the start and the baggage collection just didn't work. The race was then delayed because the Police hadn't closed all the roads. As you say it is easy to get to and they've got to improve on last year. Are they the same weekend H because I wouldn't mind running Bath
  • I believe that Reading is on the 9th(?) or March, and Bath is on the 16th. Because Bath has a later start time (11am), it will probably be the one I choose, despite the two lap course. How long before these events must one arrive anyway?

    Thanks for your comments, any more?

  • I usually enter both every year but have decided not to next year.

    Despite the bad organisation (mainly just accepting more entries than they have facilities for) at Reading I enjoyed that race a lot more than Bath. You would think Bath would be a scenic course but a lot of the route is through fairly dreary areas. The RW pacing groups at Bath really are a hindrance for anyone anywhere near them and ruined it for me last year. I decided then to very actively avoid any races with pacing groups, no matter how much I would have enjoyed the race otherwise.
  • anyone know when 2003 info will be available for Reading? I looked at the website, but it still seemed to have last year's info.

    Ratcatcher, what is the route like at Reading in comparison to Bath then?

  • I ran the Bath Half last year. The course
    is pretty flat. Over all the atmosphere
    was good and from an organizational point of view everything ran smoothly.
    It is a good run. I won't be running it again though because I couldn't stand the traffic fumes. I wasn't expecting traffic to be passing me on the right for most of the course; the diesel fumes were particularly bad; I think it is an inconsiderate route for asthma suffers.
    (I'm not a full asthmatic).
    Apart from that it is a good route and the run feels easier knowing the route when you've completed one lap.
  • Hildegard,

    I do remember the Reading route as being fairly hilly, but nothing too horrendous. I would say it is probably harder than Bath, but a lot more pleasant.

    As has already been said, both have huge fields which will slow things down a bit.

  • Hi Hildegarde

    I did Reading last year and really enjoyed it, despite the problems at the start. The crowd support was pretty good (and I had my own crowd as the route goes past my parents house), with bands scattered along the length. The atmosphere with the runners was really good also.

    It does have some hills (at mile 3 and mile 9ish) but I don't think they're that bad. I'm living in Cambridge so have no hills at all to train on, and was dreading running up one particular road at 3m in Reading, but when it came to it I hardly noticed it.

    Haven't run Bath so can't comment on that. How big is Bath 1/2? One of the things I enjoyed about Reading was hearing the sound so many runners made on the road.
  • Kendrick Road must be the one you have in mind Doobs with the church at the top. Its fairly close to the start and not that bad.

    Chilly day last year, hopefully better weather this year
  • Thanks for the info Doobs. How scenic is Reading then? Or is it just city streets?

  • Mostly city streets.
  • the biggest achievement at Reading is that the course organisers have managed to create a 13.1 mile course that is entirely urban (and not pretty either) given that the town is probably four miles E to W and four miles N to S, this is quite a feat!!

    it was an absolute shocker this year (way, way, way too busy) and i will be giving it the broadest of berths

    don't like the sound of Bath either....
  • Hmm, any other suggestions then WwR - any scenic halfs?
  • if you haven't done it before it's worth doing just to tick the box, i guess.

    the scenic halves round our neck of the woods - M40 - in feb/march (but tricky for public transport possibly) would be:

    wokingham, provided they've repaired the landslide that cancelled it last year - about 600 people, flat and 12 miles of berkshire countryside

    berkhamstead, 300+ people, a couple of stiff
    hills and 12 miles of rural chiltern beauty

    don't know how that grabs you?
  • just checked a wokingham relatyed web site and it suggests they have 1500+ RUNNERS,

    i have to say though it felt pretty uncrushed last time i ran it
  • WwR,
    It seems that Wokingham is just an hour by train from Oxford. Countryside sounds much nicer than concrete. I haven't been able to find any sites that deal with this half - which site did you look at?

  • Evil Pixie. The Reading hills are really nothing to worry about. It was my first half after a 19 year break from running and I would have said the wind and chill were worse enemies that day.

    WWR - I may look at Wokingham depending on when it is
  • HIldegaard

    i did a search on wokingham half marathon - and there's stuff on there, but nothing for next year's race yet.

    it was due to be feb 20th, i think this year

    evil pixie - BK is right, the hills in reading are nothing to be worried about, more like a half mile gradual in cline at mile 3 and then a short sharp 400 yards at 9. other than that it's pretty flat
  • What's the support/crowd like at Wokingham? EP - if it's your first the large number of runners and support may help you out. plus, if you went to Kendrick you'll probably enjoy spiting at the Abbey (my old school) when you run past!
  • wokingham is great, i was very upset to see it absent last year, will definitely be going back in 2003. crowd support a bit sparce if i remember correctly, if you're looking for an event, i suggest grit your teeth, endure the problems of over-capacity of reading (which you probably won't notice too much if you're there for the atmosphere)and enjoy your run. but, if you've avoided hills so far, i suggest you do at least some hills in training or you definitely will notice them on the day!
  • Cep, I'm glad to hear that you enjoyed Wokingham. Although it is considerably earlier than Reading, I really don't enjoy urban running too much, so if I find out more info about Wokingham 2003 (esp. if it is easily accessible by train) I might just give it a go. Do let me know if you come across any current info.
  • hildegard
    saw your other post about wokingham, thanks for early warning of date, must put it in my diary. now sssssshhhh, don't tell anyone about it till i've had time to get my entry in!!!
  • Cep, the organisers told me that the entry forms weren't ready yet. I wonder when that will be? But with such an early date, this means that I'll have to start training at the beginning of December, and it will be very hard to do because of the Christmas holidays. Any tips for a newbie like me then?
  • Hi Hildgard. I did Bath and Reading last year, idiot that I was. I am a back packer, so obviously my experiences are probably a lot different from an elite.

    Both courses arent exactly scenic, but Bath is a lot flatter. At Reading there is a nasty hill at mile 3, (you turn the corner and the little voice inside you screams oh my god!!) and then 2 other hills as well. I suppose you could say that to counter that, there are the downhill bits, but they did me in.

    I did find it a bit daunting that the elite passed me, but on the other hand it was a pleasure to see good running form, and its not that I was on my own.

    The starts are something to consider too. At Reading it too a good 8 minute for me to get through the start lline, as opposed to a couple at Bath. It was also crowded at Reading so if you are going for a fast time, then Bath is definitely the better.

    Incidently, get you appl for in early, Bath fills up by early Nov.

    Reading is a bigger event, with a little more excitement, and before the race its a real bustley affair.

    Finally Bath is a good place for partners, they can stay in town, have a coffee at the very many fine coffee houses, and also are able to see you twice, something I find very supportive.

    So for me its Bath, and I have entered alreay this year. I did Wokingham a couple of years ago, and yes the support is a little sparce but if I remember right it is fairly scenic and flat too.

    Whatever you decide , happy running!!!

  • what sort of time are you hoping for and what sort of training are you doing at the moment, mileage wise, type of runs etc? adn do you train alone?
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