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Posted: 22 April 2007


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An incredible and memorable event and very well organised.

One observation however.

The use of bottles rather than cups for water meant that the later runners were unable to have water to drink at the middle distance stations. They had simply run out.

The New York Marathon give out smaller quantities in plastic cups more often and manage it without running out!

I appreciate it was exceptionally hot but even more reason to consider the slower runner.
Posted: 23/04/2007 at 07:54

When I got to the FIRST water station at blue start they had run out (going at 5hr pace at that point - with plenty of people behind me).

Considering how hot it was, I thought it showed incredible naivety of the organisers.

It was fairly obvious that pretty much everyone would be wanting water at the first 'pit stop' - so why not ensure there's enough water for everyone???

My FLM Training Blog
Posted: 23/04/2007 at 08:18

I was running at 3.30 pace and there was masses of water there. Faster runners are criticised for pouring it over themselves but having no option but to take 250ml it makes sense to pour the water you can't drink over yourself rather than pour it onto the road. I suppose in hindsight we should have carried the bottle until it was all drunk before taking another bottle.

I hate small plastic cups in a race and find I do not get enough water that way.
Posted: 23/04/2007 at 08:29

I think there was a problem with water in the middle of the course too. I started at the back of pen 9 in the red start, and several stations had run out from about the 5th mile onwards. And I did see some people taking two...I think I read somewhere that there were going to be 27000 bottles at each station but if you assume each runner may want to take one at each then it's not enough, surely?

I did take my own bottle so I was okay but I was quite worried when we got to I think the 16th mile and they said there was no more water for the next 3 stations. I finished in 5hr40m10secs, and plenty of people behind me.

At the end it was fine - plenty of water - and I don't think the Lucozade stations had any problems either.
Posted: 23/04/2007 at 09:28

I was at 17 miles, just after a water station and I was surprised how may runners came past with 2 water bottles, I think by the time the 5+ hour people came through there was nothing left, and given they are out there in the heat for longest you could perhaps argue that they need it more?
Race organisers should know by now that if it is a hot day you need more water - it isn't rocket science and it was forecast to be warm all week, it isn't like it caught them by surprise.
Posted: 23/04/2007 at 09:33

they did increase the amount of water by at least a thrd
Posted: 23/04/2007 at 09:34

It's easy to criticise the runners ahead but it's not our job to make sure water is there for the people behind. They give us no lids and it's very hard when running to keep a bottle of water without it going all over the place!

I didn't tip any over me but my guess is the ones that did, if it didn't go there, it would go on the road, half drunk and wasted anyway.

But i'm sorry to hear that there wasn't water left at some stages.
Posted: 23/04/2007 at 09:46

well, as i have siad elsewhere

i never went more than 3 miles without water
Posted: 23/04/2007 at 09:48

I was only spectating but at the half way point they had run out of water pretty early on, so for David Bedford to say on the new that the media were going overboard about the heat and people were more that likely going to drown in water is a bit rich.


We knew all week this was going to be a hot one so there is no excuse not for something this size.
Posted: 23/04/2007 at 09:56

I was going for a 4:30 and no problem. I did find the Lucozade stops a problem as it was so sticky on the road after them...like running on glue!
Posted: 23/04/2007 at 09:59

Greenone - you are right, it's not the job of the faster ones to ensure there's enough water.

And I haven't got a prob with people tipping water over them from a bottle they've taken to drink from (as you ay, it would only go to waste on the road anyway).

But there are some who will take a bottle solely to tip over their heads - that doesn't help.

Would it not be possible for the organisers to have some massive containers of non-drinking water and sponges, so that those who want to cool off can do so without affecting drinking water supply?

Plodding Hippo - they didn't increase the amount of water by anything like a third.

The figures given out were an extra 2,600 bottles at each water station, to add to the normal 25,000 stock. That's more like one-tenth.
Posted: 23/04/2007 at 10:00

Greenone - sorry if I wasn't clear, I wasn't criticising the faster runners for taking more water - more the organisers for not having allowed enough for a hot day when people need more than usual.
I agree it isn't the responsibility of faster runners to make sure there is enough for everyone!
Posted: 23/04/2007 at 10:00

I thought that there were going to be sponges but I didn't see any. The problem seemed to be in the middle part of the course (although I think around 5/6/7 miles the water stations were empty too), which is when (for people of my speed) the weather was hottest. There didn't seem to be any problems at the end, although it had cooled down quite a bit by then. Is 27000 at each station enough? I am not sure it is if you assume everyone may want to take one at each stop?
Posted: 23/04/2007 at 10:05

At the switch back at about 22 miles I saw a guy going in the opposite direction with 1 leg on crutches scrabbling around in the gutter looking for bottles with a bit of water left in them. Not good enough FLM.
Posted: 23/04/2007 at 10:18

I ran 4hr pace and there was plenty of water. I took a bottle at all of the water stations from about 10m on. Although I thought I was well hydrated beforehand I was thirsty the whole way round.
It did worry me that many people seemed to be taking a bottle having a few sips and then throwing it away - most of the bottles on the road still had water in them. I did try running with the bottles for a while, but without the lid the water just sloshed out and they were an awkward shape to run with trying to hold upright. If they had lids on more people might have kept them instead.

I know cups aren't the answer. Maybe smaller bottles, less waste ?
Posted: 23/04/2007 at 10:32

I also found the lack of water at some stations quite surprising and disappointing. I found myself on a couple of occasions running through the empty stations and having to pick bottles off the road and drink from them.
Not Good.
Posted: 23/04/2007 at 10:39

I was running at 5hr pace and by about mile 20 there was a mad rush at each water station because everyone was desperate to grab a bottle and people were tripping over each other left right and centre! I managed to get a lid early on so kept the bottle with me so i only had to stop at every other station. I had asked for a lid at the red start but was told they weren't allowed to give them out...why is that?
Posted: 23/04/2007 at 10:49

Towards the end, they were giving bottles with lids opened but on and telling people that there wouldn't be any more water for a few miles.

I saw spectators offering bottles of water that they had obviously bought, which was very thoughtful, and little kids siphoning the water from discarded bottles to offer people but I did not really want to drink leftovers.

I was really thankful that a friend of mine, who has run marathons before, rang me on Friday and told me to take my own drink as well. That way, when my water had run out I was able to take from the water stations and fill up my bottle. The official advice was to take a few sips at every station but they had not provided enough water for every runner to do that.
Posted: 23/04/2007 at 10:52

Why do they take the lids off? FLM must have discussed it hundreds of times - there must be a reason. If the lids were on a single bottle would last longer. I hate cups - hopeless.

I thought it seemed like they'd increased the number of water stations - even doubling them. Might have been delerium but I was always glad to see one.


Posted: 23/04/2007 at 10:53

From a just sub 3 perspective, I was mindful for the first half of the race to drink at every other station, but by 14 miles when the heat started to get more intense, I felt compelled to drink at every stop.

I would though never take more than 1 bottle of water, mindful of those behind me. There were a few stations though where the bottle would slip out of hand as I grabbed it from the volunteer (It isn't easy with sweaty hands to make accurate connection with bottle whilst running at 6:40 pace with runners swerving violently in front of you). I wonder what happened to those bottles that were dropped.

I have to say I disagreed with the protocol in the race instructions not to use the water to pour over you. Firstly, I find it impossible to drink 330 ml of water when racing, 150ml maximum before it feels like it is all going to come back up. Then why not pour it over you, as others have said it would only otherwise go to waste.
Also the showers really only provide very limited relief, even the water poured over the head by the last six miles was drying out by the next water station. At the end of the day it was that water over the head that kept me cool enough to just about finish in one piece.
I don't really understand why the old fashioned vat of water and sponge is no longer used. If you have these at least people can stop if necessary and replenish the sponge.
Posted: 23/04/2007 at 10:56

The official 'health and safety' reason is probably because you could trip over bottle lids if strewn across the road.

But it's just as hazardous avoiding all the plastic bottles anyway!!!!


My FLM Training Blog
Posted: 23/04/2007 at 10:58

At Paris last week, every runner was issued with a sponge at the Expo, which they took with them on the course and dunked at the various water sponge stations (water buckets). These stations were in addition to the drink stations. This allowed the drinking water to be used for just that, drinking. Paris also had food stations (bananas, dates and oranges). These are things not unique to Paris as I've seen at a number of European marathons.
Posted: 23/04/2007 at 11:01

sponge idea would be great! I ran with a hanky (rather than tissue) and poured water from my bottle over it to squeeze on neck,face etc which was very cooling.
Posted: 23/04/2007 at 11:02

and many thanks to London Fire Brigade who above the organisation of the ickle shower type things, got the hoses and standpipse out around the course and provided much needed refreshment in quite a few more places....
Posted: 23/04/2007 at 11:10

anyone else get sprayed by the guys with super soakers.- I think somewhere near mile 14.- very appreciated!
Posted: 23/04/2007 at 11:42

I was a very slow runner and there were three consequetive water stations that had no water, from Surrey Quays to Wapping. Thanks to the kind householder who put out cups and bottles of water. I still had to buy a bottle just to keep going. The fire brigade and garden hsprinklers were lovely - not so sure about the man who (unasked) tipped a watering can of icey water on my head - too much of a good thing!!
Posted: 23/04/2007 at 11:44

I was on the water station at 13 miles and it was just as frustrating for us to run out, having to tell people who were obviously suffering that there may be water further up wasn't a nice experience.

Was nice that one woman fun runner even stopped to abuse us for cheering people on though.
Posted: 23/04/2007 at 11:46

Mr Bedford was on tv saying there was plenty of water for everyone!! He also said it wasn't hot...just warm so we would all be fine. Hummm bit like saying there won't be a hurricane!!
Posted: 23/04/2007 at 11:48

Running at around 3:45 pace, I had no problems with getting water and there seemed to be plenty left at all of the stations when I went past.
What was great was that on a number of occasions after mile 13 several runners passed a half full bottle of water on to a runner next to them, rather than simply discarding onto the road...at one point I was in a chain of four runners all using the same bottle (not at the same time) - fantastic!
Posted: 23/04/2007 at 12:05


DDG
I ran a much slower pace than I anticipated 5.37 there was enough water at my stops and it seemed like more water was brought in at about 23 miles because it was lovely and cold.
If the tops had been left on running with the water would have been a better option than ditching so it wasnt spilling everywhere and being wasted.
I think the heat took everyone by surprize. A comment from one of my supporters was that it was difficult to buy water (plenty of coffee available)maybe this should have been addressed too by FLM and shops/cafes.
Posted: 23/04/2007 at 13:03

They now sell water bottles with a flip top, and flap/valve affair.
Why not just provide this minus the flip top? The water comes out if you squeeze it, with no need to remove the cap, and you could run along with the bottle in hand without it splashing about. Of course, people would likely still remove the cap to better pour the water over your head, but as stated prior, I can't see that tripping on caps is any more likely than tripping on discarded bottles.

I ran at 3:20 pace, and almost everyone at that stage would ensure discarded bottles were thrown into the gutter or clear of the course. Perhaps it's less likely that a cap would be thrown in the same manner ?
But I also assume that at the more crowded paces, the bottles can't be thrown , clear as easily.
Posted: 23/04/2007 at 13:17

Think it is really because a bottle without a cap on it will crush under your foot, but if it has a cap on it then it won't crush. Therefore you are more likely to be injured if you tread on it.
Posted: 23/04/2007 at 13:27

I ran in front of the super-soaker guys - was brilliant, they should have had all spectators issued with them! (err, on second thought maybe not).

I guess it's hard to balance out how much water you'll need, and it must be a huge logistical exercise, but given they knew the weather was going to be so hot, adding an extra couple of thousand per station doesn't really cut it IMO.
Posted: 23/04/2007 at 13:28

we finished in 7 hours and we were hearing rumours from people that the water had run out so we were panicking a bit and holding on to the water we had got hold of

however, there was more than enough water in the end, we shared a bottle a lot of the time because at most you just needed sips. I think the organisation for this was amazing, I don't know what the answer is to the size of the bottles etc, I would imagine it would be too expensive to have smaller bottles.

Posted: 23/04/2007 at 13:49

As a 4 hr runner I found the water fine. But what I did do, was only take a bottle every 3rd stop or so and make it last. Despite not having a lid it didn't go all over the place, and I found the bottles just the right size to run with comfortably. I hated going to the water stations so was much happier only going to every 2nd or 3rd and making it last. And I love the heat so no need to pour it over me (although many thanks to the guy with his garden hose at about mile 10!)
Posted: 23/04/2007 at 13:54

It's not surprising that those running quick times didn't have problems with the water and frankly it doesn't make me feel any better hearing that they had plenty. This being my first marathon I was shocked to discover that you could go past 3 consecutive water stations and get nothing! Nobody can blame the faster runners but the organisers should have been better prepared.
Posted: 23/04/2007 at 14:23

Surely the answer is to restrict runners to one bottle each - I saw many runners, not surprisingly, take 2 bottles. I ran in 5:40 and didn't have a problem at any drinks station. I thought they were brilliant but can appreciate it might have been worse coming behind me. FLM will no doubt learn from this and hopefully so will many of the thirsty runners - like bring your own bottle so it can last longer rather than drop a half empty one.
Posted: 23/04/2007 at 14:56

I must admit I was surprised how, early on at least lots of runners still discarded their water bottle after a couple of sips. I tended to run with mine for most of the mile I had received it, drank probably half-2/3rds and poured the rest over me.

I was also asked on two seperate stations to take two bottles and pass one on - which i did.
Posted: 23/04/2007 at 15:18

I started the run with my own 500ml bottle of water which had a 'sports cap' on it. Once I finished the water, I kept the cap which I then screwed onto the bottles I picked up from water stations.

This meant that I could carry the water for a while and not slosh it all over, but also made it easier to drink from the bottle.

My top tip then - the water suppliers give everyone a sports cap at the expo.

Posted: 23/04/2007 at 15:26

I can't fault the organisation and thought that the water stops were amazing. I ran just under 5 hours and only saw one station where they seemed to be running out. It wasn't necessary to take water at every stop and I ran with my bottle and didn't pour any over me. The organisers stressed that people should only take one bottle - I heard it on the course and at the expo. There should have been more than enough for everybody so if it did run out I guess it was due to some runners taking more than their fair share.
Like us runners who trained for six months we couldn't prepare for conditions on the day. I think the Organisers coped extremely well. I also noticed that in the later stages water was handed out rather than left for people to help themselves from tables so distributing it more evenly.
Posted: 23/04/2007 at 15:32

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