Having read the other post-GNR threads, I thought I'd add my tuppence-worth to the debate. I was quite surprised to find myself sharing the orange section at the start with loads of folk with white numbers (and one or two greens!). A lot of slow runners started further ahead than they really should have done, but I'm not sure what they could do about that. What do they do at other large-scale events? Unless it's your first half-marathon (as it was for me), perhaps the GNR isn't the sort of event to try for a PB. It's not just that there are 46,999 other runners, but the route is quite hilly and there must be flatter races to have a go at. It was my first attempt at a half-marathon, so I wasn't overly concerned about the slow start - I knew it would prevent me from going too fast too quickly. As for those spotted walking during the first mile, I think I was more worried about those who had to stop for a toilet break before the Tyne Bridge!
I've been running for a few years now, and it was the GNR that first made me think about entering races and joining a club. For that reason, I'll always have a good word to say about it. The weather on the day was as good as I could have hoped for, but what really made the GNR for me was the atmosphere. The sheer size of the event made it special, and the people who lined the route were absolutely brilliant. It wouldn't have been the same with those who turned up to clap, cheer, high-five passing runners, or even hand out ice pops or slices of orange. Thanks folks, you did the North East proud.
The only real disappointments were the drop-off / pick-up locations used by the Nirvana coaches. It wasn't so much the walk before the race, but given that they were the official accomodation and transfer company, couldn't they have found somewhere closer to the finish area to collect weary runners? I had planned to travel home straight after the race, and so I had a whole weekend's worth of clothes and stuff to carry all the way back to the bus. Not only that, but those who were supposed to be taken to the finish - including my girlfriend who, like me, overpacked for the weekend - had to walk the same distance (back along the bus route!) to the finish area. Well, whatever, nevermind. One other gripe: why such a small bottle of water at the finish? Note to self: Next time, don't discard a half-finished bottle at the final drinks station!