In short: Flat, well marshalled and great support at the finish In full: A very well organised race, with plenty of marshalls on route, excellent traffic management and a good atmosphere at the stadium.
A T shirt and tea and biscuits at the end were most welcome.
Support was great at the stadium and in the villages, however lots of the course is along lanes, where there is only the odd spectator. The down side of having the start/finish at the track with a nice, warm indoors with tea and coffee etc is that most of the spectators/supporters will gather there rather than on the course.
It's a good course for PBs as it's generally flat. However, I agree that in places it is "awkward". There are some narrow paths and pinch points early on which makes overtaking difficult. Also towards the end through the town, there are a lot of twists and turns (and an underpass), which makes it difficult to maintain your rhythm. Then there is the incline back to the stadium and another twisting path to get back onto the track. If you have a target time, you need to have enough energy or time in the bank for those 'challenges' in the last few miles.
For me the scenery was pleasant enough, through villages around Abingdon. The business park is a bit dull, but the support at the water station is uplifting and if you're a PB-chaser, then its flat and traffic-free.
Thanks to all the marshalls and volunteers who stood out in the cold for hours, much appreciated. Date of review: October 22, 2012
In short: Flat, but awkward and dull In full: It will always be a fast course in this area, it is flat or gently rolling at most. A lot of this benefit is cancelled out by a very awkward course, there are lots of twists and turns and narrow winding paths and pavements where overtaking can be difficult. There are also countless curbs to hop up and down and the most awkward part of the course is the last 2-3 miles where it is very hard to maintain any momentum. The marshals were great though, along with the general organisation and facilities. My only gripe here is water in cups and not bottles, this is not a cheap race and there's not really any excuse. I also measured the course a tad long at 26.44, as did everyone else I asked.... Date of review: October 22, 2012
In short: Yet again well organised and superbly marshalled on a flat fast course In full: My 5th time at Abingdon and 3rd time running a PB on the course. I come back every year as it is a fast course and well organised race. Apart from the course and marshallig it is the little touches such as: free T-Shirt, stadium finish, coffee and biscuits at end and hot showers.
This year was no exception apart from the shortish off-road sections which were a bit muddy from the recent heavy rain but it seems to be the only thing the organisers could not sort out.... and it would be nice if they could fill in the subway at mile 24 and keep that stretch flat ;) Date of review: October 22, 2012
In short: So many marshals and all of them friendly and encouraging, they have got to be some of the best marathon marshals out there! In full: I'm used to running marathons with much bigger fields of runners, but at no point was I alone through the race. The atmosphere and camaraderie between the runners was brilliant. I liked the mixture of terrain throughout the run, even the subway with the cheeky marshal at the top! To top of a good race I not only came away with a new P.B but with a T-shirt that fits! As an extra good point, the two times I visited the ladies toilets there was no queue what so ever!! Date of review: October 22, 2012
In short: My first marathon and I loved it ! In full: Great organisation, fantastic supportive marshalls, nice and flat (PB for me but it was my first marathon!). Great to finish in the stadium (would have been good to have a marshall or two extra coming back into the park as last half mile in park bit lonely and very easy to go over in that bog!). Dreaded subway I heard about wasn't nearly as bad as I had feared. A great race and now I have the marathon bug I'll be back! Date of review: October 22, 2012
In short: Second time, same result, great day out. In full: I don't like Abingdon. But I grew up there, so that's mandatory. The marathon, on the other hand, I love. I ran it first in 2010 and this review could equally apply to that race; my experiences this time round were nigh-on identical.
The course is flat as anything, giving huge PB potential and the marshalls do a great job of directing traffic around some tricky junctions. The start and finish in Tilsley Park has more atmosphere than many events that finish in big stadia (I'm looking at you Milton Keynes) and the support on route is great (bearing in mind the field is less than a thousand and many travel a fair distance for the race).
The flatness of the course makes it a magnet for PB hunters, leading to a field that is frighteningly competitive. Yet everyone is friendly and respectful to one another through the tighter sections of the course.
The only recommendation I'd make is for the organisers to sort out the marking around miles 15/16 and also 23. Because there is a loop in the course you get pairs of mile markers cropping up, but while 6 was a short distance before 15, 7 was after 16. Also, judging by my pace (which was very consistent) mile 23 was a bit late putting in an appearance. I recall similar issues from two years ago.
This doesn't take the sheen off a great race that I'm sure I'll be back for next year. Both times I've run this I've knocked 11 minutes off my PB, so at this rate I'll have the world record in a few years time.
In short: Fabulous marshalls In full: All the marshalls and officials were brilliant - amazingly friendly, helpful and genuinely supportive despite having to be out in the cold for hours and hours. You get long stretches without any spectators on the rural bits but the spectators that were out there were great. Date of review: October 22, 2012