It’s been hailed one of the most picturesque competitive running festivals in the world, allowing runners a rare opportunity to jog across the Sydney Harbour Bridge traffic-free.
But not everyone was impressed with this year’s Blackmores Sydney Running Festival, with disgruntled runners taking to social media after the race to vent their frustration over its many shortfalls.
The event that had runners winding through the empty streets of Sydney’s CBD early Sunday morning, has left hundreds of competitors dissatisfied with their experience— particularly given the pricey entry fee of up to $180.
While many praised organisers for well-planned volunteer distribution throughout the course and adequate security, others thought there was a lot left to be desired.
Blackmores Sydney Running Festival allows people the rare opportunity to run traffic-free across the Harbour Bridge, but this year it left runners feeling ripped off and dissatisfied
With the cost to compete in the marathon peaking at $180 and the half marathon $125, there was a resounding disappointment at what was on offer for participants.
There weren’t enough nutrition supplements like gels or bars available throughout the course, and unlike most other public races, there was no fruit or electrolyte replacements for runners as they crossed the finish line.
Nor was there an immediate medal hand over, with runners forced to make their way through the Royal Botanical Gardens—some up a steep incline—to collect their reward.
The size of the medal was also slammed for being ’embarrassing’ by veteran runners, who said it was significantly smaller compared to others they’d received, even from smaller races.
Disgruntled participants taking to social media after the race to vent their frustration over its many shortfalls
‘It’s kind of embarrassing when someone is showing off their medal collection and the Sydney medal is one of the smaller puny medals. I’ve run in some much smaller races that have much larger and nicer medals which is sad considering this is SYDNEY AUSTRALIA!,’ a runner shared to the page’s Facebook.
Competitors were disappointed at the ‘lack of atmosphere’ during the race, with minimal entertainment on offer, which wasn’t aided by having to repeat the same section of the course four times for marathon runners.
‘The constant double backs along the course made it psychologically tough and boring especially through centennial park,’ one runner wrote in a review.
Adding: ‘No food, not even bananas at the end of the run was also very disappointing. Every marathon I have run prior to this has offered food at the end for marathon runners, essential for recovery immediately after the run.’
Competitors were disappointed at the ‘lack of atmosphere’ during the race, with extremely minimal entertainment on offer, which wasn’t aided by several ‘double backs’
There also seemed to be an issue with start groups, where slow movers clogged the path for incoming runners, which had a significantly detrimental impact on hundreds of final recorded times.
The expectation was that runners who registered for group A would lead the run, followed by groups B and C, with the officially recording beginning on the start time of the front runners.
But those stuck in congestion, and caught behind inappropriately assigned group members, were understandably frustrated at their inability to weave through the crowd enough to make their desired time.
One runner complained: ‘The track wasn’t wide enough for how many people went in the race, the bridge was better as it’s so wide but for most of the course you were running in one car lane…
There also seemed to be an issue with start groups, where slow movers clogged the path for incoming runners who were attempting to achieve a certain time
‘(It was) nowhere near wide enough for thousands of people, esp(ecially) when they weren’t strict with staggered starts of the groups.’
Another agreed, saying: ‘If you are walking, stopping to admire the view or taking selfies, you need to be in group C no exceptions I nearly crashed into someone on the bridge who suddenly stopped for a selfie.’
The event expo, where runners collected their packs in the week leading up to the race, was also slammed for being ‘extremely disappointing’.
Many were upset there were no ‘goody bags’ or gifts handed over with race bibs, which were common for most other races.
The event expo, where runners collected their packs in the week leading up to the race, was also slammed for being ‘extremely disappointing’
Event Director Wayne Larden hit back at naysayers, insisting a ‘vitual’ online ‘goody bag’ consisting of discounts exclusive to competitors had replaced previous years’ physical bag because of the large amount that usually ended up in the bin.
He also explained marathon runners were made aware prior to the event that there would only be ‘a limited supply of GU gels’ available on the course.
Mr Larden disagreed with critics who said participation medals were too small and explained course ‘double backs’ were necessary in abiding by road closure footprints.
He said organisers would aim to add more entertainment elements to events in the future.