In short: Do this every year anyway though the timing chip issue and awful weather made this less fun than usual! In full: Fantastic support and marshalls despite the awful weather, the Marshall at mile 6 in Watermead park got us all motivated!!!! Date of review: October 27, 2013
In short: Not good enough for a marathon in UK's tenth largest city In full: Leicester Marathon was my tenth marathon, at 8 different locations, and the third in as many weeks, and easily the one with most improvements to make.
1. Pre-race instructions - The website was very limited in its instructions. Particularly with respect to travel to the marathon and parking instructions. Parking instructions were not helpful, and seemed to be designed for someone with a good knowledge of the area around Victoria Park. Likewise with travel directions. If you didn't know Leicester well, you would struggle.
2. Collection of race-pack only - Again, this seemed to be designed on the assumption that all runners were from Leicester. Maybe this is the case, but I would have thought the marathon organisers should be encouraging runners from outside of Leicestershire. Posting race-packs makes entering the event much easier for these people.
3. Knowledge of volunteers at race-pack collection point - When I asked what I thought was a simple question (are there going to be any pace-runners?), the response was “sorry, we’re volunteers”. I’m grateful that people give up their time, but it shouldn't be too hard to have someone at registration who can answer questions about the race. This question covered have been covered on the website, but wasn't, and I asked the question via twitter and never got a response.
4. Toilets - There were not nearly enough toilets at the start. There were very large queues right up to the start. I'm sure many people must have started late.
5. Starting in predicted time orders - There were a lot of people who clearly started too close to the front and slowed others down behind them. This could have been stopped by having pens for each predicted time group. The only control were some small signs on the railings. I saw signs for >03:00 and >03:30, with nothing in between. That's a big gap.
6. No pace runners - the first road marathon I've run where there weren't any.
7. Signs on course and instructions from marshalls - There weren’t enough clear signs on the course. At many points it wasn’t very clear in which direction you were supposed to go. For full marathon runners this was a problem. Often I didn’t have sight of the person in front, so I couldn’t see where they had run. The problem was exacerbated by marshalls who weren’t paying attention or whose directions were vague, too quiet, or left it until I was right upon them. I was often asking "which way?!" Also, as someone else has pointed out, there was quite a lot of traffic on the route and it felt a bit risky at some points.
8. Timing chip and system - It wasn't clear from the race-pack instructions whether I should leave the timing chip in the bag on the back of the race number or detach it and attach it to my laces. The instructions seemed to suggest I should leave it in the bag, which I did, but that meant it wasn't possible to provide some of the medical detail on the back of the race number because the bag covered it. Additionally, I saw a lot of people dropping their chip during the race because the bag holding the chip broke open.
9. Post-race - It’s a small detail, but it’s the first marathon where someone hasn't put the medal over my head, rather than just hand it to me still in its plastic wrapper.
10. Water in small plastic cups - it's really difficult to collect and then drink from small plastic cups without breaking stride. I don't think I seen these in a marathon, or race of any kind, before.
Since I've run the race I've seen the public comments from the organisers blaming the rain for the problems with timing chips and talking about a steep learning curve. This is England, in October, so rain shouldn't be an issue, and there are marathons effectively organised and run everywhere, all the time, and have been for years, so I don't see why there should be a "learning curve".
Positives? Just one, considering the weather the support on course was pretty good in parts. Especially in some of the villages furthest away from the city, and around Highcross Shopping Centre (although I do agree with the comment below and felt I was getting in the way of a good day's shopping in some parts of the city). Date of review: October 19, 2013
In short: Great race with a few niggles. In full: An enjoyable route and fairly well marshalled. Atmosphere was good considering it was so wet and windy. Main niggle I had was the fact that the website info didn't correlate with the race pack info (which feed stations would have energy gels and the type of gels, something which I feel is pretty important to know when planning nutrition for a marathon - turned out website was right and not the race packs given to us the day before the race). Despite issues with chip timing (these things happen!) a great day of racing with a pretty well organised event. Date of review: October 16, 2013
In short: Some great marshalling and support, let down by finish area and chip timing. In full: Lets start with the bad – From very early on I noticed people stopping dead and retracing their steps in an oncoming wave of runners to retrieve the timing chips that had fallen out of their flimsy plastic covering. Certainly not an efficient system, and not great for the safety of runners – although this was not the greatest safety concern. The bigger problem was that you were playing with the traffic on some sections – to be fair the organisers did well to cone off sections of the main roads, and the marshalling of the crossover points was done very well, but these sections still felt dicey. The route itself while pleasant in some places, was grim in others. Once you’d got back into Leicester City Centre you couldn’t help feeling that you were getting in the way of a normal day in the City. Also if you’re going to use a path that’s barely wide enough for a runner to get along (7 miles-ish), at least trim back the vegetation! The finish area was poorly organised and confusing. The literature beforehand said water and a banana at the finish. No banana. Just as well I had a carb gel left. I could hardly see in the dark tunnel of the tent where you collected the t-shirt and had your chip removed, and the baggage tent was chaos. If there’s one thing you don’t want to be doing after running 26.2 miles, it’s trading carefully over other people’s bags to retrieve articles that have become detached from your own bag. A bigger tent, with bags placed in number order, with some adult supervision would be my advice to the organisers. The army cadets were doing their best but needed support. The good –Considering the weather there was some great support along the route – the couple that cropped up three times being particularly memorable! As mentioned previously the marshalling was very effective – there was little chance of getting lost as the field thinned out. The water stations were at regular intervals with no wastage problems you get with bottles of water. Gels were also plentiful and appreciated! The medal was also good and I liked the technical running vest – with a humorous nod to the city's recent historical discovery. Overall, there were some good points but a city the size of Leicester deserves a bigger and better event! Date of review: October 15, 2013
In short: Good friendly marathon In full: Overall this was a good event. The weather was pretty bad but did not stop the marshals from doing and excellent job. Same goes for all the army cadets out there at the water stations. The route is varied and fairly flat. The hill at the end isn't that bad. Yes, the chip timing system failed but the organisers are doing their best to provide results from their backup process. Unless you are on the margin for a GFA time this really shouldn't be an issue and let's remember this is a charity event. I agree that the web site could be more informative about fairly basic information. I still really enjoyed it though and would recommend to others. Date of review: October 14, 2013
In short: cold and wet In full: Full marks to the marshals who gave good support to the runners, first time Leicester and I felt there was some bad faults Race Pack having to collect, to be given a envelope which could have been posted. Water in Cups (half cup thank god it was not hot) Parking awful Chip what a farce I think more fell off than got round Medal good but no bag so you had to carry everything I dropped my new shirt which got dirty, easy done after four and half hours running. Date of review: October 14, 2013
In short: Good course, shame about everything else In full: Firstly I loved the course. I did Nottingham two weeks ago and the organisers there seemed to go to great lengths to avoid including Nottingham in the route. Leicester however took the route straight through the city centre by road, showing off the city and then after we’d reached Watermead Park, we came through there, Abbey Park, along the canal etc all on tarmac paths until we reached the city centre again and spent most of the last two miles in the pedestrianised centre. Excellent.
Also most of the marshals were good and considering the weather the crowds were good too.
Everything else though left much to be desired. As someone else said, it smells of cost cutting and amateurism.
I've got no problem with collecting race packs on the day but the pack included useful parking that isn’t on the very poor website. Not much good when you’ve arrived. Also not on the website were any directions to Victoria Park for those who weren't local. A copy of the excellent and useful site plan that was available on the day, although not included in the race park either, should also have been on the web.
It should need to be said - drinks in cups is a total no-no for a big race, particularly for a full marathon. No goodie bag.
I missed all but one of the first six mile markers as they along with hundreds of other race related signs were the same sized yellow signs. Next year please, a different colour, bigger and on both sides of the road.
As has also been said, the timing chip was stuck in a plastic bag on the back of the number and the first mile was accompanied by a cascade of these chips crashing against the pavement as loads fell off. I lost mine, so I picked another one up off the road, so at least they couldn't charge me for losing one. So somebody out there will get a surprise time. That is if they get any times off the chips at all as apparently the whole system failed and they reverted to manual timing. This caused a huge bottle neck at the finish as everyone queued single file for them to record everyone’s number in the order they finished. The organisers at least deserve credit for this and trying to recover the situation.
Also all the medals and t-shirts say marathon on them, so I can't show off ether as I only did the half! Date of review: October 14, 2013
In short: poor organisation and all corners cut to make money In full: 1 small car park charging £5 but we were advised to cycle in! insufficient toilets ran our of water at the end - criminal - runners need to hydrate and to run out is unacceptable water provided in cups not all roads shut and many near misses with idiot drivers - not the organisers fault, but they should have put more marshals on the open roads yoghurt was spilt all over my bag in the baggage area timing chips didn't work although a lot were on the road as they'd fallen out no goodie bag signs to direct runners to the car park were non existent or taken down when i got there which was before the cut off set the half marathon runners off with the full so very cramped at the start and then left isolated after the halves veered off insufficient toilets on the course the one positive - i now appreciate even more the race directors that get it right! Date of review: October 14, 2013
In short: Good course for my time. But that's about the only thing going for it. In full: -Starter pack wasn't posted out, had to be collected for city centre. -Chip was stuck in a plastic bag on the back of my number, covering over the personal details. The chip then fell out of the bag after 2 miles. -There was no parking laid on for the event, on street parking where you could find it. The organisers had requested that people cycle to the event!! -There was a 20 minute queue at the end of the race to collect T-shirts and medals etc. -The collection for the bags was a shambles. 1500 bags in a tent, with no obvious method for finding them. -2 sections of the route were flooded, including one unpleasant section in a subway. Date of review: October 14, 2013