Race Review: The Vitality Brighton Half Marathon


This weekend was a bit of an adventure. Ups and downs were had. Peaks and troughs circumnavigated before I found myself at the end of a 3 minute half marathon personal best and a fish and chip lunch with the good people of #UKRUNCHAT.

So let’s get the rant over with, and just as a spoiler {SPOILER ALERT}, there will be post race ranting too having just had to deal with the hotel once more about my complaint.


Wednesday I hurt my neck. It was probably one of those nights when you sleep on your front but your head is on the wrong pillow and so I woke that morning unable to turn left. “I’m not an ambi-turner.. I can’t turn left.” – Zoolander. This was quite debilitating and so I skipped my Thursday run hoping to be fixed for race day……


But of course it wasn’t and so I started the Brighton Half marathon weekend with a trip to MFB Osteo in Euston to be manipulated and taped.

And this did help to a degree, Monica taped me up to limit bad compensatory movement with the aim of making me move how I was supposed to and then I was off, to Warren St, then Victoria and a short hour long journey to the south coast and Brighton, or B-town as it is known by my assistant James.

I have been to B-town over the years, post uni and with different girlfriends. I thought of it as a fun town, with cool things to see and do.  Not so much this time around. This time around I left the station to cold winds and traffic. And for some reason absolutely no phone signal. Not a good start, especially as I didn’t know exactly where the hotel was and also had friends to meet up with and now no way to contact them. Eeep, as they say.

A stop off at the Three Store, where I was served by a cute little girl whose nametag stated she was to be known as Newbie until another new person joined, and I gained a brand new phone and had my monthly bill almost cut in half. A result! Although my new phone, shiny as it was, would not work for half an hour, and so I headed on in search of my hotel with no idea where it was other than it faced the sea.

Something that is quite well known about Brighton, aka B-town, is that virtually all of the seafront is made up of hotels. It is the town’s bread and butter. So as I hit the Kings Road I had two options, right into the distance, or left. Left I would have preferred if it were not for the police presence, and traffic jam caused by crustie, dog-on-a-string types first chanting for people not bombs (anti-war maybe or pro-refugee) and then save the badgers. And so I decided to head right and passed the Hilton, the Mercure, the Grand, all the good hotels, until I was in B&B country and had clearly gone too far.

Back the other way and the badger people had been dispersed and the crusties were all pouring into the Brighton Centre that was housing VegFest, or Vegapalooza or something along those lines and the demonstrators were all about the free range hemp milk smoothies and fair trade lentil burgers, as long as they were free.


It did mean I could finally get to my hotel and the location for much of my weekend and therefore the cause of much of the following rant… Deep breath, here we go…

I arrived about one thirty to a huge queue of people and only one receptionist, where there was room for four. After queuing for a while we were told they were not checking people in until after two. There were a lot of people waiting. I was ok with this and went to the bar in the atrium that housed the reception and ordered a drink that took about ten minutes to arrive. I decided to make use of the time and setup my new phone, YAY, something positive, 4G and with minimal effort had it up and running. Just in time for check in.

"Winston Smith, you're room is ready."
“Winston Smith, you’re room is ready.”

The room was pretty ok, although for £152 a night I would have expected a little more. I was also given the quite Orwellian Room 101. Now the problem with room 101 was that 1. it was the first room next to the elevator, YAY! Noise from everyone getting the the lift. YAY! Perpetual lift going up and doing and ping when it arrives noises. YAY! 2. It was also on the first floor, with a window that opened up into the atrium that included the bar that, I would find out later, did not close until 1am. Brilliant. It was also really quite cold in there and the AC, noisy as a harrier taking off, was on when I arrived. It was when I turned this off that the real noise from down below became apparent.

Every word, every cackle from a drunkard hen or cheer from a legless stag as they stumbled around in an alcoholic stupor could be heard over the constant low bass thud thud of music. I drowned it out with the rugby and a few phone calls but when it came to trying to get some sleep I had two hopes, Bob and No.

At about 8 I tried the reception to ask to be moved. They didn’t pick up. I let it ring a long while and called several times. I then tried the switchboard number. Again, no answer. Being a little suspicious of this I looked online and found the external number for the hotel and called it using my cell phone. HEAVEN BE PRAISED! It was picked up within a ring. Hmmm. So you ignore the people who are already here and answer the calls from potential suckers you haven’t fleeced yet? Having explained that it is really noisy and I couldn’t get to sleep with the din the lady stated it was a bar and it was open until 1am and therefore offered me complimentary orange juice. Nice, but I really needed a room that didn’t face the cesspool of the stag and hen nightlife of Brighton. They didn’t have any. I turned down the OJ and was offered bottled water instead. Not sure how that would have helped either so said it was ok and tried to sleep with my headphones in. No good.

Eureka! It was one of those moments. You know them. Eranu! Yup, the AC was left on in the middle of February, not because it was piping hot on the Costa Del Sussex, because it was frigid, it was to mask out the bloody noise and so I cranked it back up again and enjoyed the white noise that quite successfully countered the din downstairs.


Did I sleep? You know that cartoon where Barney Bear is trying to hibernate but, after chopping down a tree for firewood accidentally invites the wrath of a chipmunk into his den? And he gets no or little sleep all winter. Well, it was kinda like that. The AC did mask much of the noise. But the hoofed creatures in the room above clumping around, clearly in herds, kept waking me up. As did the ping! of the lift. And then the light flashing on the fire alarm. And, to be honest, virtually anything until 7:30am when I could finally get out of bed and attempt to force down some instant porridge before the race.


I had intended to meet up with Judie the day before but circumstances were not favourable and so instead we both kept an eye out and somehow met up, not only with each other, but also Jeff.


The layout of the whole Race HQ was pretty terrible. From the start you seemed to walk forever with barriers stopping ease of movement. The bag drop was a mile away next to massage tents, a Brooks stand and after a row of loos. People were changing right in the way and therefore getting your bag to it’s rightful drop was a challenge in itself. Still, after enduring I met up with the guys and had a few photos and a pep talk before the real business of the day, the 26th Brighton Half Marathon.


To paper fired from canons into the air, we ran out and along the waterfront, which would  be the view for much of the race other than a mile in and out of town so we would see the Royal Pavilion.  We ran up long, constant hills with the sea on our right, before turning and coming back down.

brightonwI haven’t raced much this year yet. I know I’ll get the 100 bling up next month, and there is a small matter of 4 marathons and potentially two ultras. But still I have only run 3 tens this year, and only tens since Berlin and getting injured so this was a bit of a test.

It was fast, and a lot of people were running the whole way. I saw very few walkers from the earlier waves, but maybe the flatness of the course and the straight in out along the water route meant people were going for it, because I saw a lot of fallers, collapsed on the side of the road, being helped by good people. Especially in the last few miles after I had recovered from my dizzy spell – oh, yeah, the dizzy spell. Let me tell you about that.

It was a test, as I said, and it would be a test I enjoyed, getting to ten miles quite comfortably on water alone, before feeling a little light headed at the final turn along the waterfront and taking on some Lucozade and walking for a few minutes, was it tiredness? having dinner at 7 the night before? Virtually no breakfast? Or just lack of race time in 2016? But somehow, I don’t know how, I ended up finishing in what would be my fastest ever half marathon by a 3 whole minutes. Who would have thought it?



Before I get to the good stuff, there was further annoyance. After finishing you head back toward the baggage tent. People were walking along with me, then they darted to the left or the right in their silver heat blankets. Why? Someone had dropped off boxes of something. First it was muesli bars, then drinks, then carrier bags (could save yourself those 5p charges at checkout by nabbing a box), then finally the bling and bananas. Getting to the bag drop was fine but then getting back from there to the hotel was an utter disaster. They had fenced off the road for runners (understandable), and kept a lane free for ambulances (sensible), but going the opposite direction to all the runners where the families and friends, who decided to bring out ALL the children in pushchairs and prams, EVERY pet they could put on a leash, and ANY elderly relative they could find, the infirmed the better, wheelchair? Cool! Zimmer frame? Get them out! Being pushed in an iron lung? Why not? And they clogged up the whole route back to town. It took 20 minutes to get through it all and get back to the hotel to pack, shower and wait for the guys.

And when Artur, Jeff and Judie all arrived we ALL had somehow gained new Personal Bests at the distance of half marathon, and celebrated with beer and fish and chips. WELL DONE ALL.


We all like to hate the faceless monster that is Vitality, taking over all the races in the UK and stamping themselves all over them. But hey, it’s bling. Bling #97 for me in 3 years 9 months and counting.



Would I recommend the Brighton Half Marathon? I would. It sells out really early and really quickly. I think it sold out in a week in August, that is how much in advance you need to get in there.

Would I run it again? No. It felt like Bournemouth Half, and Bexhill Half, Hastings, to an extent Edinburgh Half, the coastal bit, and the Great South Run were pretty much the same race.


After I’d highlighted the hotel and the many shortcomings of my stay there I was approached on social media by the group that owned it. An official type asked me to detail the issues and so I listed the check in issues, the noise, the room, the noise, the phone call avoidance, also the noise, and left it up to them to make a decision. Now, I can be a little cynical and guessed they would offer what hotels always offer when they know they have provided poor service: no refund, instead complimentary crap when you stay again. So I was offered an upgrade and breakfast if I was to stay at that same godforsaken hotel in the next 6 months, nice, but I would rather drive off the end of the pier than stay there again.

A more viable alternative to staying there again






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