Monday, 20 February 2012

Review: Brighton Half Marathon - 19 February 2012

I first ran the Brighton Half in 2010. At the time it was my second half marathon and I was just hoping to improve on my first. It poured rain for the entire race and there were a few organizational issues, but I had a great time. After I missed it due to injury in 2011, I was excited to run it again this year.

It's been unusually cold these last few weeks so I was worried about the weather. Although rain is always a bummer I was more worried about gusty winds...since on the seafront it usually means running directly into the wind at some point! But after a rainy Saturday we had beautiful sunshine, even if it was still freezing!

We only live a few miles from the race start. I wanted to get there by 8:15 so Hubs just took me in the car and dropped me off. I hopped out near Old Steine and Madiera Drive, and it was exciting to see all the runners heading down from all directions.

The queue for the first set of public toilets was already pretty long so I immediately joined in. As with last time it was a long wait, and by the time I was done it was already 8:45.

As I headed for the starting pens the warm up was already starting. It was really crowded and I felt like I was being shuffled along in a giant sea of people. I only saw a sign for a 1:45 goal time but no others after that. It was hard to see where you could enter since most openings were unmarked and there were so many people. But I finally found a gap in a barriers and squeezed in. After a few words from the announcer we were off!

The race route was different to when I ran it before, but familiar since I run most of the course every weekend. It was reasonably crowded at the start as we headed up and around Old Steine, before heading east toward Rottingdean. Past the Marina was a little hilly and narrow at some parts, but I didn't think it was too bad for passing if needed.

After the turnaround I new it would be pretty straight forward from there--east towards the Hove Lagoon before heading back along the Promenade, and from there about 3 miles until the finish. There were lots of people cheering along the most of the course which gave the event a great atmosphere.

I usually carry my own drink but the water and Lucozade stations were as advertised, and I thought having bottled water was a nice touch. Easy to drink from and you could take it with you if needed.

The finish line was a little disorganized (at least I was able to cross it this time!) but as you walked through you could pick up a foil blanket, medal, goodie bag, bananas and Lucozade. I don't expect a goodie bag but feel if you offer one some effort should be made. Mine didn't have anything except a voucher and an advertisement. What's the point?

The medal was a nice one, though:

When I crossed the line my Garmin clocked 13.52 miles. It had been off compared to the mile markers since mile 5 or so...but since GPS can be inaccurate I assumed the mile markers were right. But soon after the race there was lots of grumbling about the course length, and it may have been the cones were incorrectly placed at the turnaround.

Brighton Half says they are investigating now, but I wonder whether they will actually 'fess up if they made a mistake. For now I will just stay that if it really was too long, I'm disappointed that the organizers could have made such a basic error.

So I've run 2 Brighton Halfs now and both had basic organizational issues. In 2010, I couldn't cross the finish line because it was too crowded--organizers had placed people removing timing chips too close to the line--and now this year the race may have been too long! I'm think I'm jinxed when it comes to this race.

However, as my local it's one I'll keep going back to again and again. I love running on the seafront, and despite any organizational issues the support you get from the crowds just can't be beat. Here's to a better race next year!

A mostly flat seaside course with lots of PB potential. Still seems to have some organizational issues year to year despite being a well-established race, but the great atmosphere and support from the crowds makes it an event worth running.

Stats in 2012:
Date: 19 February
Entry Fee: £29 unaffiliated
Number of runners: 7000+
Timing chip on race number
Goody bag (without any goodies)
Medals for every finisher



  1. I also used a Garmin and measured it as 21.72km. A colleague's watch read 21.9. I know these things aren't 100% accurate, and there is a loss in accuracy given weaving an turning corners, but the route was pretty straight, and looking at the track on the map afterwards, that's not really within the margin of error, so I agree with you, and I think they made a mistake. They appear to be denying it, and saying the route was "UKA certified", but if one of the turns was in the wrong place, then it might explain it. I hope they actually investigate it.

    1. I was the same, initially assumed my watch was off. But usually my Garmin is pretty accurate when I'm on the seafront. I'm glad that they've admitted their error, but in many ways I'm still frustrated with the result!

      Thanks for reading! :)

  2. It amazes me how often this happens. Edinburgh half last year was longer they said someone moved the bollards at the turn point. and I know what you mean about trying harder. I don't get goody bags, I'd sooner pay less! but sounds like a lovely day and you had a great run. next year..... :-)x

    1. Hey Sue! I was surprised when people mentioned Edinburgh and other races where this had happened...and races that were too short as well! Feels like the distance of the race is the one thing that organizers should get right.

      But it was a beautiful day and I enjoyed it!

  3. Come up north DimRun. Chester half in May?? :)

    Great race report. It's a shame after all the training you put in you were disappointed with your result but you shouldn't be, you did great and just keep getting better and better - you certainly inspire me. x

    1. I do want to do a race up north one day! I'm doing Edinburgh in May but maybe something later in the year? :)

      Thanks so much for all your support, Jenny!