In short: Flat and fast with great atmosphere - did Manchester proud In full: Perfect running weather and a truly flat and fast course meant I smashed 12 mins off my PB. Great support all the way round (except the more rural section in Carrington) with bands and choirs to provide entertainment all made for a nice friendly atmosphere. Agree with the comments re signage (particularly at the start) and the mile markers in the latter stages seemed to be out by c0.2m but all in all a great race which I would definitely run again. Date of review: April 9, 2014
In short: Excellent organisation and the Mancs make it so special! In full: My first ever marathon run around the street i live on, it couldn't have been more special. I thought the organisation on the day was top notch and the support from the crowds was outstanding and extremely motivational.
The scenery isnt the best, but its where i live, so i gave it 4!
I would like to do other marathons but I will definitely be back to my hometown marathon one day. I hope this race continues to grow and grow.
In short: PB Smashed In full: Well i smashed my PB by 20 mins+ to get down below 3:12 and the majority of the day was excellent. Just a couple of issues that could be improved: 1. Water stations - never experienced chaos like it, these areas needs to be stretched out so not everyone is trying to get them at the same spot and more people need to man these. I virtually had to stop at each station to get one to avoid being tripped. 2. Marker signs - the mile markers and signs for impending water stations need to be bigger. Heard alot of people saying they hadnt seen them and I missed quite a few.
Other than that it was perfect Date of review: April 9, 2014
In short: Good in general In full: Certainly good for PBs as others have said - yes it is fast and almost entirely flat (small incline at about 12 miles is about it really).
A few negatives
- Mile markers were very disappointing, I saw very few of them even when I was looking out for them. It wouldn't take much more effort to make them huge and obvious, like some other races do. It made pacing a bit difficult, particularly as when I did see the markers they were coming up slightly short against the Garmin. (For future reference for anyone interested, half way on my Garmin was 13.01 miles, total distance was 25.94 miles - I'm sure the course is correct, but it's unusual to find a course which measures 1% short on the GPS, I usually find it's the other way round)
- water pouches were indeed hard to open but I usually got something out in the end. Not unique to this race though, they seem quite popular in quite a few races now.
- parking arrangements were a bit of a fiasco, no directions to car parks in the race booklet, roads all closed on the morning.
But will I do it again? If I want to go PB hunting again and can't get into London, then probably yes. Date of review: April 9, 2014
In short: A dream race, flat course and superb atmosphere In full: I thought that this was a great race from start to finish. The pre race info was thorough and detailed. Parking was fine for me but I heard that there were some thieves that stole signs and set up a bogus car park - resourceful but not nice. Loads of loos at the start, easy to find the start. The course is something else with amazing support all the way along. This is definitely the friendliest crowd and they keep you going. loads of water and gels and an awesome medal and T-shirt. Definitely recommend Date of review: April 8, 2014
In short: the crowds make the difference In full: had to pick my number up the day before...it's Manchester and weather forecast was accurate...so XtraMile obviously decide to us the smallest tent as pickup and leave you queing in the rain for 30 minutes....obviously learnt very little from 2012's fiasco. However, the day after was excellent. Free on the tram, plenty of loo's, good buzz at the start and away with similar paced runners in my pen. Although the first 5/6 miles are fairly sparse in the support stakes, it's more than makes up for it for the rest of it. Lots of noise and encouragement from spectators and marshalls alike. Same again next year. Date of review: April 8, 2014
In short: Super fast - definitely one for PB hunters In full: Positives - Fast course – as promised, it is very flat. Smashed my PB! - Loads of crowd support, bands, choirs – so a great atmosphere - Lots of water stations – all staffed by a great bunch of guys. I liked the pouches too, although sometimes a pouch that started off really well would suddenly stop letting anything out. - Out and back parts of the course meant I could see my friends going in the other direction. Was good to see the leaders powering on in the other direction as well. - Friendly and helpful team at the finish - Organised starting pens meant plenty of room to get into rhythm v early on without having to weave around people who may have started too far forwards
Things I think could have been better - Pre race info – all done in a pdf, most of which was advertising. I’d like to have had the information, without so much advertising, supplied in hard copy. Paper saving or cost saving? - Gels: the website, and subsequent emails, implied that these would be available at regular intervals on the course. After buying some (from XtraMile, in response to one of their many promotional emails) to get used to them, it turned out that gels would only be available at 22 miles – and then at 22 miles I only found bloks. - Entry fee – why add on a 5% handling fee? Very Ryanair – here’s the entry cost - oh and here’s a compulsory extra. I’d rather have one cost quoted up front which includes that 5%. - Photos – surely the most popular one to buy is the one under the finish gantry, especially on a course that prides itself on its flatness and therefore its PB potential. The photographer was so far to the side that in the pic I’m 90% behind someone that crossed the line beside me! A lost sale there.
Overall though, well worth doing. After fluffing things big time over the last couple of years at events with hills in the last few miles, I wanted a flat course to nail that GFA, and I got that. The race itself was great – fantastic buzz out on the course, due to the crowd support and entertainment – and the other key stuff, like baggage facilities, toilets, water stations, all worked well. Thanks Manchester for a memorable day.