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.
In short: Good race spoilt by problems getting there by car. In full: Why were the roads to the stadium car parks closed, they could have been kept open till 8:30'ish without affecting the start. As they were closed where was the signage for alternative access. Like many others I wasted time, petrol and money on prepaid Old Trafford parking because I failed to find a way in after 45 mins. Instead of having a nice relaxed 90 mins to enjoy the atmosphere and prepare for the race it left a stressful 30 mins. to get everything done. Fortunately baggage drop off was very quick and queues for urinals very small. The race itself was actually quite good, the crowds and marshals were excellent and very encouraging. Certainly lived up to claims of being flattest, friendliest marathon. I personally didn't like all the switchbacks in the first half, especially first one after less than a mile, but it does make it easier for spectators, marshaling and reducing road closures in the city. Baggage collection not as efficient as drop off, 1 tent not enough for up to 10000 bags but cadets were brilliant and did their best in the confined space. Overall would recommend for flat, friendly course, just don't try and get there by car.
In full: Fast but boring course, well supported on course. Getting there was a bit of a nightmare with poor diversion signs and 'dodgy' car park attendants trying to charge you twice. The starting pens where also disorganized. Probably worth doing once for the pb but wouldn't do it again. Date of review: April 7, 2014
In short: not convinced by this one In full: I was really looking forward to this race but was overall dissapointed. Thought the organisation at the start was poor. Initially the gate to the athlete area was not fully opened making it difficult to get both in or out! No good signposting to the start and then the pens I felt were badly highlighted. However, the marshalls on the course were excellent and very encouraging. Many water stations though I wasnt overly keen on the water packets. The course was obviously through town and I found it really mundane (though this was clearly what I should have expected). Road flat with only a few inclines and found myself hoping for more. I wouldnt do this again but could see why others would. Date of review: April 7, 2014
In short: Marvellous united Manchester city! In full: I didn't get into to London so was looking for an alternative. "Flat & Fast" caught my eye - and since I really wanted a sub-4 - I signed up for Manchester. Communication was excellent on the build up and throughout; a downloadable race brief explained everything. The day and race itself was perfect for me personally. Very impressed and very enjoyable. Oh, 3.57.59 thank you very much! Date of review: April 7, 2014
In short: Fast,well organised and great support In full: This was my second Marathon so only London to compare with and really enjoyed it. The only negative was getting there with the road closures maybe I didn't look into this enough. The parking was great I had prebooked and ended up within 200 metres of the finish just next to the race village and was away with no hold ups at all. All instructions were clear, with fantastic support on route. Its not the most scenic of runs but that wasn't my aim other than a couple of very slight inclines its flat all the way and the large crowd, with bands more than make up for it. The water pouches are a good idea much better than bottles, a couple weren't quite open enough but easily resolved on the move. Other than the route in by car would find it hard to suggest any improvements, as for PB if you are fit enough then you won't have any problems achieving one on this course. Date of review: April 7, 2014
In short: Overall well organised and very well supported In full: My first marathon, so nothing to compare with. I appreciated the flat course, and the loop-backs, as I could swap encouragement with fellow club members. The marshalls were excellent and the support loud. I enjoyed the 'Run like somebody called you a jogger' banner. Generally the organisation was pretty smooth, with just a few niggles: - Water pouches took some getting used to and we could have done with some instructions for them in the race pack - I was relying on a gel from a water station around the 20-mile mark as advertised, but didn't see any (possibly my fault) - Didn't see any water at the finish line, and once through the finish area there was no going back, which meant I had to wait until I'd got my bag to get a drink, but... - Baggage retrieval was a bit slow (and I don't think I was there at the busiest time). Notwithstanding these gripes, I thoroughly enjoyed the race, and the only reason I've said I'd only 'maybe' do it again is because I'm not sure I'll want to do a marathon again. Maybe when I'm a bit less stiff... Date of review: April 7, 2014