In short: Loved it! In full: Wow, what a great marathon & challenge. I've never ran that many hills in my life! But it was great, I loved it. There were issues with the route and safety of runners on the stretch between race HQ and the turn onto the country lane (the hilly part), but that section is only about a mile and half long, the rest was fine and the marshalls were fantastic - very supportive.
The hilly section was amazing, I would like to see that section kept in for 2012 as it was quite unique running all those hills and having everybody passing each other on the opposite side of the road. It made for a great spirit & support network amongst the runners as we all knew how tough it was out there.
It was a shame we couldn't have run through Battle another time because the support in the town was encouraging and that may have made for a better finish route.
The drink stations and race HQ were superb as well in terms of food & drink available. The choice was the best I've ever seen. I wondered at the beginning why they had so many energy foods available and after running those hills, I can see why! They were certainly needed.
Will be back next year for sure! Good job. Date of review: April 4, 2011
In short: Well organised and tough, but scenic In full: Cannot fault the organisation (apart from slight delayed start). Great support from marshalls. Anyone training for Comrades Ultra in SA end of May would relish the hills. Friendly small field. Date of review: April 4, 2011
In short: Great marshalls and support but the route - needs to be changed! In full: Cannot complain about the support of the marshalls and the organisation. But the course needs to be sorted, I train and run hills but to expect 20 miles of hills - 5 miles intervals is unbelievable! It is a shame as the course was advertised as one lap and this clearly was not the case! Date of review: April 4, 2011
In short: Lordy, those hills. In full: This is a once-in-a-lifetime marathon.
And I mean that literally. Just as a lot of non-runners want to complete "a marathon" once in their life, regular marathon runners might consider doing this race once, for the experience. But just once - unless something's done about the course.
From what I've read and others have commented, it seems the organisers had real problems getting permission to run the course they wanted, so today's impossibly hilly 26.2 miles of agony was pretty much the only thing they could get away with holding.
Like others, I sincerely hope that the local community can wake up and realise the huge benefits a successful marathon would bring to their town. Hotels, B+Bs, tea shops, visitor attractions - all would share in the success. And let's face it, it's not like Britain's economy, including the tourism industry, is booming right now, is it? Every little bit helps. Take note, Battle.
The management of the event on the day was immaculate. The freebies for runners (food, drink et cetera), along with the fantastic design of the wonderfully chunky medal and technical t-shirt, were great. Marshalling was supportive and professional, making the most of a difficult situation - i.e. homicidal drivers spying gaps in the road and zooming to wherever it was that was important enough to risk the lives of both runners and marshalls. And the cameraderie was something I've never felt before at other half- or full-marathons. Great to see familiar faces as you go along the route, so if next year's event includes a back-and-forth portion I, for one, wouldn't mind.
It was great! If you leave aside the agonising, gut-wrenching, calf-destroying pain and don't expect to get anywhere close to your marathon PB. If they can get planning permission nice and early and promise to organise the 2012 marathon along a more reasonable route, I'd love to do it again. If not... well, at least I've done it this once.
The question below asks if it's "one of your all-time favourite races?" In some ways yes, in some ways no. Date of review: April 3, 2011
In short: Brutal, unrelenting but brilliant! In full: Firstly, congratulations to the organisers that laid on a terrific event despite obstacles presented by the local authority and sections of the local community.
Being a visitor, the local economy benefitted with me and many others staying in hotels and eating in restaurants. For one day in the year, can't people observe the signs advertising the marathon, and leave the car, 4x4 or RVs at home. The marshals did their best to police the traffic, but with no visble police officers and idiotic drivers made this a battle against traffic as well as the distance.
That said, the route changes didn't impact on my positive experience of the day, as I didn't know the area and so wouldn't have been aware of the old route. However, I did think it was the organiser's intention to squeeze in as many hills as possible! Fortunately, on reading the RW thread on this event, I built up a frightening picture of a tough course that matched the reality of the day! The first 6 miles loop around Battle was undulating and a decent challenge to kick things off, but I was fearful of the 10 mile out and backs that we had to do twice - I used a conservative patch to reconoitre the section on the 6-16 mile section and was then able to build a strategy to deal with this on the 16-26 mile section. Along with the majority (and opposed to a vocal minority that will never be happy unless they can criticise), I enjoyed the scenic course, suffered on the constant undulation with some nasty long grinds, but loved the camaraderie and banter (lots of high-fiving) with other runners due to the out and backs. This allowed you to see the leaders effortlessly fly past, and to share a friendly word with someone more mortal!
The organisation for an inaugural event was very impressive. Decent race HQ, marshalled parking, efficient race pack collection and good communication. Course was expertly marshalled, the mile markers were accurate, and the feed stations were well stocked with water, isotonic, cola, sweets, mars bars and fruit. Although the traffic was badly behaved, the marshals done a good job on the crossing-points. Commentary at the finish, a splendid medal and a techie t-shirt in the goody bag.
In short: Fantastic organisation - absolutely awful course In full: Cannot fault the organisers for the show they put on (parking dodgy though) including the excellent marshalls tech tee, free food, chip timing, always fully stocked aid stations the list is endless. However and a BIG however the course was NOT a marathon course and traffic was so anti runners, the coned section was an accident waiting to happen - some drivers drove sooo dangerously close it was scary. The lanes were not much better with cars weaving all over the place! The hills were a nightmare - i really don't think most people signed up for this. Felt the local people thought it was just a massive inconvenience with the traffic, didn't want it there either. Wouldn't be surprised if this is scrubbed of the calendar for next year. There is definitley a requirement for an alternative to london and Brighton but this in it's present form is definitely NOT it. Date of review: April 3, 2011
In short: Hilly... Hilly... Hilly... In full: Pros
1) Medal & T-shirt were very nice, in the right size. 2) Aid stations were very good, well stocked with friendly and encouraging crew. 3) Marshalls were excellent. 4) Great atmosphere and support from the other runners. 5) Pickup of the numbers/chips and goodies at the start very painless and parking easy.
1) Route was awful, 6 miles of semi closed roads and then two out and back 10 miles down either busy roads or very hilly narrow country lanes that weren’t closed to traffic Absolutely nothing like what was the route when we entered and no explanation given as to why it was changed (though we can guess). I’m not sure they could have possibly chosen a less hilly route. 2) For the first part of the first out and back the cones to make a “runners lane” on the busy part weren’t moved out to create the lane, so you were just running in the road with fast moving traffic. Even when they were, I doubt it was even a metre wide so people coming the other way often had to step outside into the traffic flow. There seemed to be little consideration given my many of the local drivers, there was a serious accident waiting to happen. In the narrow country lanes there was barely any room for a car to pass in any event.
Not one I’d do again, or recommend until things are changed and the local community “buys in” to the concept of a marathon there. AND seen it in action first, once bitten by a total course “redesign” twice shy... which is a shame as the organisation, route aside, was very good.