In short: Bad weather - unavoidable. Prep for weather, and baggage collection - inexcusable In full: For a race that had a lot of potential to be great, this sadly was let down by some very poor organisation on the day. My first UK marathon this year, having done races in Israel and Holland. Sadly, British organisation, in comparison to these races, was shameful that day.
First, I’d have preferred to get my Race Finisher t-shirt AFTER the race, not at the Expo BEFORE it – simple logic, no? On race day, I got to the race village in plenty of time for the start. But the queue for dropping off baggage was colossal: organisers had obviously not anticipated it at all. Last thing you wanted to do was to stand around in cold and wet for half an hour (or more) before the race. Finally organisers said just dump your things - that doesn't reassure you much!
Once out on the course, although it was very cold and wet conditions throughout and scenery was a bit average at times, the Manchester public came out in droves to support us. And they were tremendous. The crowd I think were the one element that may make me come back to do this race again. Made me proud to come from the North of England (and I live in Wales now!).
As some people have said, mile markers seemed inconsistent along the course (they could have done with being much bigger for a start, displayed above ground level). Lack of First Aid at times as far as I could see (I note some people needed the Red Cross in these weather conditions, from other entries). Good number of portaloos on route - I didn't need them, but I imagine some other people did. Marshalling was bit thin at times, but what marshals were there were very encouraging. I appreciated the energy gels they gave out around the course (even a chocolate one, which was new to me!). Stupid plastic water packs were not good - they didn't open properly, and you didn't want to concentrate on ripping one open when you were running. They need to be more accessible next time, or else back to water in cups next year please.
In the bad weather conditions, was great to get to the finishing line. But unfortunately, this is where things really went downhill. Think given the cold weather, investing in better foil blankets for next year for the runners is essential - thin ones we got barely gave any protection from the cold weather at all, and some runners you could see were really going to need it.
And as already well mentioned, what people will always remember from this race is the baggage collection farce. The baggage collect area became a rugby scrum - no organisation at all. People jostling and waiting for their bag, in weather bad enough to induce hypothermia at the end in just that thin layer of foil only to protect you: you just did not need this. To their credit, race organisers issued an official apology for it - and boy, they needed to.
One thing that was nice was money off for post race meal in the Printworks area of Manchester afterward, if you had a finisher’s medal. Had a nice free veggie burger in Henry J Beans pub, which was a nice touch. Keep it for next year.
To summarize: obviously, organisers could do nothing about the weather per se. But they could have been far better prepared for it, and for this race generally. This is a PB potential course - were it not for weather conditions, think I might have beat my PB. With some important organisation changes, and better weather with any luck next year, this could be a very enjoyable weekend.
In short: Good course - terrible weather! In full: My first marathon so was happy to finish in 3.26. Weather was awful so not easy for the organisers but baggage system was a disgrace. Great support considering the weather. Date of review: May 4, 2012
In short: Fabulous crowd, terrible weather, baggage handling unforgivable In full: 1st marathon, enjoyed it all, even the weather to a degree, much of the pleasure of finishing though was undone by the chaotic baggage scenes at the end.
Apart from that though really enjoyed it. Date of review: May 4, 2012
In short: Great day due to amazing support, can't help the weather In full: Despite the awful weather, I enjoyed the race, the course was good, could have been better - i.e. avoid trafford park industrial area as there are much nicer places to run through !! The support was amazing, made me proud to be a hardy northerner, most of the marshalls were brilliant, big hats off to everyone that stood in the cold & rain for hours so we could have our run. Organisation needs to be addressed for next year, tents weren't big enough, no signage to other areas (toilets etc) in other field, start was disorganised and contingency needed for bad weather - this is the north of england after all. Really dont need to run under a subway on tired legs !! Bit pricey for the lack of a good goody bag, medal is so-so. T-shirts are hi tech so good that you can use for running. Overall I had a great day (once I got over the cold), not sure I'd do it again as the finishing area dabarcle was enought to put anyone off !! Date of review: May 4, 2012
In short: Flat course, fantastic crowd, let down somewhat by organisation In full: This was my fourth marathon and I would consider it second only to Berlin in terms of elevation: there was one hill broken down into two (sort of) steep but short inclines. If I managed a PB in this year's torrential rain and wind, then I'm sure any of you can!
The public support was top notch. Yes, there were quiet points (this isn't the London Marathon), but that so many people took to the streets in spite of the conditions was a testament to the Mancunian spirit. Plenty of banter to be had. Great stuff.
I am concerned about what I've heard regarding the baggage area: it was far too cold and wet for people to be left queuing for so long with nothing but a measly strip of foil to keep them warm. But an official apology has been issued, and I think it would be a shame for Manchester if the organisers weren't given another crack at it. Date of review: May 4, 2012
In short: Well I survived it! In full: Obviously it's hard to review the race fairly cause the weather made everything harder, but.... 1) I only got gels from the very last station at about 24 miles. Good job I took my own. 2) I did not receive the promised foil blanket at the end even though I was suffering terribly from the cold 3) Where was my promised Clif bar at the end also? 4) Ugly medal 5) Dunham Massey is not a road 6) The spectators were THE BEST and made me proud to be a Manc. 7) the marshals too. I am eternally grateful. I thought I was actually going to die at times.
I will be back next year though, rain or shine. Clearly I am mental. Date of review: May 3, 2012
In short: Great potential once all the problems are ironed out! Good day in awful weather In full: What could have been a great event was let down by some poor organisation and the weather (although that can't be blamed on anybody but the 'big man'!). Despite the cold, rain and wind it was enjoyable (honest). Support on route was fantastic and marshalls were brill. Most likely will do it again, as the weather can't be as bad second time round. Date of review: May 3, 2012
In short: Definite PB potential! In full: Weather aside which can't be helped, this course was actually very good and I may be biased due to my new PB. On a clear day it looks like it would be a very nice marathon with lots of different types of scenery and challenges (although the subway was not very nice). I can't comment on anything else with regards organisation as I wasn't aware of any issues (probably due to my uncontrollable shivvering and just trying to get warm and dry), I arranged to meet someone after the race, next to the medicine tent with my bag of dry kit to change in to which worked out perfectly. The support round the course was fantastic and a credit to Manchester which would bring me back alone! I'm sure they will iron out any issues for next year and I would definitely do it again. Date of review: May 3, 2012
In short: Amazing crowds in terrible conditions. In full: I will accept that I might be slightly biased in my review as I achieved a PB 3:59. However this was my 4th marathon and it easily had the based atmosphere of them all. The crowds were amazing. Streets were lined with cheering specatators which was incredible considering the cold, windy, rainy day we had. Some things need to be improved - getting the goody bag and finishers T-shirt BEFORE the race!! Of the route itself the was a bit through Dunham Massey which was more like Hell Runner conditions and not to be expected in a marathon. However these are minor complaints that I'm sure can be rectified for next year. Date of review: May 3, 2012