In short: Lovely location, shame about the organisation In full: What should have been a great race was totally spoiled by the fiasco which was the lack of portaloos.
Brighton has the potential to be a really great marathon. Great location, I really liked the course (despite the switch backs) and the crowd support was just amazing. However, it was completely let down by the organisation on the day.
I did not find the number pick up too difficult, but I got there early on Saturday morning and the queue wasn't too bad at all. The kit bag was ridiculous - I'd already seen a lot of comments from people on social media about this but honestly, nothing prepared me for how small the bag actually was. I only put a jumper and some leggings in it but it split and needed taping up on the day of the race. As did most other peoples.
On race day, I got to Preston Park by 8.30am. Got straight in the queue for the portaloos. Still had my bag at this point. Surely 30 minutes would be enough to get through the loo queue? By 8.55, the queue had hardly moved and a lovely lady held my place while I dropped the bag off. There is nothing more irritating than being in the toilet queue when the race starts, and then your corral goes. At 9.30, I finally got to the front of the queue. Raced to the blue start (which clearly had already gone) and ended up amongst the yellow start in the mud. To be fair, the organisers couldn't do much about the downpours of the previous day, but they could have put matting down. To add insult to injury, the chap on the tannoy at the start was going on about how the organisation had been superb. There were still hundreds of people in the the toilet queue 20 minutes after the race had started!!
All of this meant I was amongst much slower runners, had to weave around them and the early miles were too slow. I missed my sub 4hr goal by 23 seconds. If I had been in the blue corral at the start I am pretty sure I would have got it. To be in the toilet queue for 55 minutes was totally unacceptable. They need to have more toilets and marshalls to sort the queues out, and to stop non-runners from using them.
Once I actually got across the start line, I thought the course was really good. Hillier than I had expected but it was gorgeous by the sea. Power station section was hard (and a bit smelly) but there is always one bit of every course which is less interesting. The crowd support and volunteers on the water/gel stations were fantastic. Would have preferred bottles to cups as I have to walk to drink out of cups but I know that there is less risk of breaking your ankle on a cup. The finishing straight was really great, loads of support. I liked the medal and t-shirt but why the tiny bottles of water? Especially as the small bags meant you couldn’t fit a drink in them. A banana would have been nice. And then for some reason we were funnelled into a really narrow section to get out (that was before the village)at a point when you need to keep moving. They need to sort that out. We ended up walking across the beach as we could not get out at all through the village, it was sheer gridlock.
They have however got the app right – it actually works (take note Manchester and London) and that was really helpful for my husband who was tracking several people.
Would I do it again. Possibly, but I would definitely pay for the VIP tent to avoid the toilet situation again.
In short: Poor organisation on the day In full: My first time at Brighton but not my first marathon. The organisation up to the day was looking good. Picking up our race numbers on the Saturday was fine but I think we got there early, we did hear some horror stories after.
The reason I won't run this again is the organisation on the day.
1. There were no where near enough toilets at the start, urinals were not signposted. we queued for 45 minutes and never got to the front of the queue.
2. Water Stations, where do I start? Firstly there were cups, I personally find near impossible to drink out of. You had to take pot luck you were never 100% sure if it was water or hi5. I ended up checking every time. Volunteers were brilliant, Im not knocking volunteers or marshals however there were very enthusiastic kids at the water stations and they were starting to bottle neck the race by moving into the runners. This was a quite a few stations and I ended up doing the zig zag run round them or worse- having to walk as we queued through
3. Crowd control The crowd were brilliant but were able to wander across the course almost from the start. I was regally dodging pushchairs and amblers. The worse bit was at the sea front where it was hard pushed to tell where the runners had gone there were so many people wandering on the course. At one point the route went in front of a bar on the prom separating the bar from its outdoor drinking area. Here I ran straight into a woman wandering with a glass of wine so I spent the last 30 mins stinking of Pino.
4. It was a sunny day and hot, hardly a breeze and no course showers to cool in- did someone not check the weather?
5. Finally the worse bit for me was at the end I was offered half a cup of water. No water bottles just half a cup of water and the next water I could get hold of was when I reached a shop. I thought that was disgusting considering the distance and the conditions of the day Im sure my entrance fee would have paid for me to have a bottle or maybe two at the end of a full sun marathon.
In short: Too many mistakes In full: Not that good really. Lack of toilets, ridiculous kit bag size, pacers without banners, bib pick up convoluted, poor village at start, medal rather plain compared to other big marathons. Big upside was the crowd. However I won't bother again. A lot of money for a race to have so many faults. Date of review: April 20, 2016
In short: Needs an organisational refresh and review In full: This was my 10th marathon, and poorest organisation to date. There were niggles with the bib collection, (queued round the block for 45 minutes waiting to get in), ability to choose corral when registering seems an indulgence (i am a 4:30ish runner so wanted a pink corral, but none left when i got to end of queue on Saturday - ended up with a blue 3:00 - I'm sorry if i slowed down about 5000 people!). If these issues were sorted then I would do again. Date of review: April 19, 2016
In short: Crowd are still the best but sadly organisers have lost their way In full: My third Brighton Marathon having previously run in 2011 and 2013. The support in Brighton is phenomenal as it always has been and it feels like a wall of noise pulling you round for most of the race. The cheer as you exit the power station section and join Hove Prom with the pier in the distance is a real highlight. Similarly the scenery is memorable, if like me you enjoy running by the coast. I had a great run and a PB so was very happy with this and everything surrounding the actual 26.2 miles I was on the streets of Brighton. Unfortunately though the bits before the start and after the finish were a real let down compared to the organisation in the two previous years I had been to Brighton. Others have touched on it so will just mention a few of several.
1. Lack of toilets at the start. There were never quite enough but now 11K marathon runners plus the 10K runners in Preston Park and it must have been 60 odd portaloos. I joined a queue at 8.15 much nearer the front than the back and got in the loo at 8.55 which meant had to run for the baggage truck. No way could those behind me in the queue have had any chance at all of reaching a loo and offloading baggage by the time the lorries were meant to leave at 9. I just made the blue start but loads must have missed their corral. 2. The small kit bag. Not living in Brighton and not having anyone with me on race day made this an issue. I was ok as I streamlined to a couple of T-shirts and leggings for after the race and chucked everything I had on pre-start to charity. I was lucky as I was getting the train in from Crawley on Sunday so could adapt to the very late email about the kit bags. Much harder for those who travelled down before the organisers sent the email. 3. The Village and Finish Area. If you surveyed 1000 marathon runners and asked what would you most like to do straight after crossing the line I'd imagine 'don't have a good rest just stand in a big queue for ages and get herded into a Village area where there's no room to move' wouldn't feature highly on the list. Amazing but big thanks to the steward who eventually pulled apart two of the metal barriers to let people escape the Village onto the beach.
Other bits like the cups of water not bottles was less tricky than I thought it might be as there were lots of water stations, however it still added to the general feeling that making money out of the event (Expo, lack of toilets, smaller bags etc.) now comes above the runners.
I know this review sounds like I didn't enjoy the race however I did! Brighton is my favourite race and I love coming back. Unfortunately that probably makes me the perfect customer as I will come back again anyway. However I just feel the Brighton people, volunteers and runners who all do an amazing job on the day could be better supported by the organisation next time. Date of review: April 19, 2016
In short: NOT WORTH THE HIGH PRICE TAG In full: Where to begin? Having to go to Brighton in advance to collect number at a waste of time expo.Stupidly big queues for numbers and then to be told there wasn't room in the pen I wanted??? The world's smallest kit bag which split if anything more than a shoelace went in it... Not enough loos at the park,only one coffee van.... Course itself is reasonably nice but waaay too crowded in places. Water stops had run out of cups at several locations.. The small t-shirt I asked for wasn't available... All in all, a shambles...and it isn't even their first year. I've done a lot of marathons, this was one of the worst organisationally. Sorry Brighton, at 55 quid I won't be back.
In short: Could so easily be improved In full: The weather was perfect, the crowds were fantastic and I got a PB ..... but sadly these didn't outweigh the negatives:
1. I wasted whole of Friday doing an 80 mile round trip to spend 20 mins collecting a race pack which could probably have been posted for £1.
2. MORE TOILETS needed at Preston Park (how hard can that be?!). I joined the queue at 8.30am and reached the end 50 minutes later! I missed my red corral start, and the blue so eventually started with the yellows (somehow I did still achieve a sub 3:30 finish but it was much harder work than it should have been).
3. More water at finish - 330ml was nowhere near enough ......
4. Kits bags far too small - not room for suffcient clothing, let alone to pack the large bottle of water I was planning to bring.
I have run Brighton previously in 2010 and 2013, but 2016 will be the last time for me. Date of review: April 19, 2016
In short: Expensive and you have to collect your race pack in person the day before the event In full: +Great crowds +Great for spectators - around Hove they can see you multiple times +Good atmosphere +Flat course +Weather always seems to be nice
-You have to travel to Brighton the day before to collect your race pack, they refuse to post it out -Expensive, and it feels like they are trying to wring money out of you -Finish area is an anti-climax if you aren't running for a charity - it's more a tarmac cattle corral with no chairs or facilities -Getting to Brighton in time for the start can be problematic
I chose Brighton because it's not too far from my house, it's a big event and I didn't realise you have to go there in person the day before the event to pick up your race pack - the organisers won't post it out. It's also a good town for spectators as there are plenty of pubs, shops, playgrounds, a beach etc. to keep your family happy whilst you run. My family had a great time and really enjoyed the day, this had nothing to do with the event organisers but all to do with Brighton.
Transport to Brighton is bad. I was going to take the train but luckily drove down instead - trains were cancelled on the day and unless you live locally you won't find a Sunday train to get you to the start on time. Parking around the town is also hard on busy weekends.
The course is flat, goes around town and out to the country, back into town and then out to the infamous power station! The power station leg is an out and back from 19-23 miles, and is a real course challenge. It's flat, it's dull, there are no spectators and it's a real mental challenge to keep on top of your game. I think they should definitely keep it in as it's a real challenge in an otherwise flat and busy course with great spectators.
The crowds and entertainments on the course are really good - they really do make the event worthwhile.
In short: Great course, fab crowds. PLEASE post race number and chip in the future. In full: Enjoyed the race, my debut on the marathon scene. Great crowds, scenic route.
Picking up the race number was disastrous though. 45 minute queue for a piece of paper that could have been posted. Being forced into Brighton the day before - traffic horrendous, parking impossible - was an unnecessary evil. We bedded down the night before in Crawley - miles away - as hotel rooms in Brighton for the weekend booked up months and months in advance. Trains in and out of Brighton were cancelled and when there, were absolutely rammed. Lastly on the gripe front, the beach village was dreadful. Far too busy, bottlenecks on bottlenecks. Pitiful, really. Toilets, paper cups, mud at start - all insignificant compared to being forced into Brighton the day before. Won't do the race again for this reason alone. Shame - seems an easy thing to rectify. Corporate buck beating runner satisfaction. Date of review: April 19, 2016
In short: Good but room for improvement In full: I will caveat my review in that this was my first marathon. However I have taken part in a variety of half races and 10ks...
This is a bit of a contentious issue due to having to pick up bibs. We were well warned of this when signing up, and as someone coming from London to race, would have inevitably stayed Saturday night before the race. The expo queue wasn't too bad when I arrived, Saturday at 2pm, but after the queue was right round the block. The expo was uninspiring, probably because I've been to the London one a few times.
I did like being able to pick the appropriate coral. A lot of people's goal time changes over the course of training. However, people on the day were hurling over the fences anyway, so perhaps a moot point!
Morning of the race:
I was fortunate enough to have paid with Amex and got a nice toilet and start. The rest was carnage. My other half decorated a bush amongst hundreds of others and was nearly late to the start. They needed to make more urinals so at least this would edge up the queues.
Also the park was brutally muddy. Given 10,000 people were going to trek over parts, this should have been boarded.
A nice tour of Brighton. There was a slight uphill at mile 1, but the rest was relatively flat. I am surprised at comments of it being hilly and steep, where are you from?! Every course inevitably cannot be 100% flat, this is nearly as good as you will get (other than Manchester I'd say). I quite liked the out and backs as I could spy people on the other side, but if this isn't to your liking, avoid! The crowds were amazing. The power station is grim, but I think anything at miles 21-23 was going to be pretty ropey. The finish line never seemed to arrive as it was hidden around the corner!
Water stops plentiful. Cups which I don't mind. People need to read up before the race and practise. Just squeeze and tip! One confusion was there was some energy drinks and then water, which made it hard to just pick up the water. Gels were plentiful, but I didn't pick up as I take what I have trained with.
Unfortunately I collapsed quite near the end, but the crowds managed to scream at me to get over the line. Many thanks to the two men who assisted. St Johns ambulance people were very swift at scooping me up, patching up my knees and running tests. Thank you.
I swiftly got my baggage back. Medal nice. Goody bag crap, a graze box and some crackers. One tiny bottle of water. After I was able to sit up in the medical tent, my boyfriend enquired as to whether he could have more water for me. They response was "officially no, but if you walk past the table and pick one up, that works".
Overall, it is a good race. It's a good first marathon for everyone of mixed abilities and the crowds were amazing. Would I do it again? Perhaps, but not immediately. I am not sure if my body ever wants to do another marathon mind...!