In short: Great Race In full: A great race and a pb to boot for me. Many thanks to all the organisers, marshalls, those that helped at the water stations and the loud supporters in Preston Road.
Very different atmosphere to London as it felt more runner orientated. Everything catered for, good setup at the start and throughout the course, although handing the bagage in could have been speedier. Marshalls offered great support and controlled the traffic well which can be a difficult task with impatient drivers.
Goody bag was a bit sparse, personally I would have liked a banana at the end.
In short: Top race In full: This marathon really ticks all the boxes for me. Fast,flat course, superb organisation, excellent marshalling and great weather :-) Not quite as scenic as I expected (but perhaps that was just me), but really would recommend this to any potential marathon runner.
In short: Another awesome event. Thanks and congratulations to all involved. In full: For me, Abingdon marathon exemplifies everything that is best about running. A jewel in the UK's marathon crown. Do it do it do it. Date of review: October 18, 2011
In short: Just a brilliant day In full: No wonder that this Marathon is a favourite and entries close within days. The organisation is exceptional and they even arranged for the weather to be cool. still and dry with the sun only coming out near the end! The only downside is the double passage through an industrial estate but if this is the cost of keeping the flat, fast course so be it. The marshalls were most supportive and made up for the small crowds by the intense enthiusiasm and noise that they generated. Well done Abingdon, more of this please. Date of review: October 18, 2011
In short: Excellent organisation, marshalling and support In full: I can only agree with the previous comments. Mention must be made of the writing on the pavement at around mile 15 - Paula, Haile, etc - very inspiring. I did this marathon 29 years ago and had forgotten the delight of Didcot Power Station (twice). Date of review: October 18, 2011
In short: Already on my calendar for 2012 In full: Continues to be the best race I know. PLEASE don't change.
The size of the field is great, the accurate mile markers are admirable, the marshalling is enthusiastic and reliable, and the course is pure speed.
No complaints at all. Some people have moaned a little about the goodies you get at the end, but seriously, what would you rather have - a unique, technical t-shirt in a size you can select and a colour that isn't the usual flourescent yellow (plus a Mars bar, bottle of water, tea/coffee and biscuits, and the possibility of getting a 20-minute massage for a fiver), or the usual goodie bag: some carbo drink, cereal bar, dozens of leaflets advertising running products, plus *maybe* a random, cotton, one-size-fits-all t-shirt that you're never going to wear? For me it's an easy choice.
18-minute PB got me to the finish under 3:15, so I'm qualified for "Good For Age" (and, hence, two years of the London Marathon) and still a little giddy, but even if I didn't have that little bonus I'd always recommend Abingdon.
Do it at least once, for the atmosphere and to say "you did it": London Marathon. Do it once (and maybe *only* once), for the masochistic pain and foolishness of running 26.2 miles up a hill, then down a hill, up and down, up and down, until you eventually hit the finish line or the inside of an ambulance: Sussex Marathon. Do it Every Single Year: Abingdon Marathon, without a doubt.
Please don't change. Don't change a thing. Date of review: October 18, 2011
In short: When do the entries open for 2012? Count me in! In full: This was my third year in a row at Abingdon and I hope that I will be back to make it four ... and more! I have been fortunate enough to be able to take part in larger Big City marathons and in smaller events, but Abingdon is hard to beat for the excellence of its organisation and the speed of the course.
The location is excellent. The start and finish are on a 400 metre track in a stadium; as I write this, I realise for the first time that we started anti-clockwise and finished clockwise ... ! This location means good changing facilities, hot showers, a warm building to keep the early morning October chill at bay and plenty of space for speactators and for the runners to chill out afterwards. I suppose the only slight drawback is that there isn't more parking on site and that the college designated for parking is a fifteen minute walk away. However, I can understand that the organisers wouldn't want too many vehicle movements in the vicinity of the stadium given that the options for the run route seem to involve using the main road entrance and exit. The walk (before the run) is also a good loosener after a car journey and (after the run) gives an excellent chance to cheer/encourage/abuse the later finishers as much of the final mile of the run is on the walking route back to the car park.
Walking back to the car park also brought home just how many marshals there were deployed. I had decided when leaving the park to say "thank you" to every marshal I passed when walking back to the car and found this almost as exhausting as running the marathon. It may just be that someone had issued everyone in the town with a high-vis vest, but I think they were all genuine volunteers! Does anyone know how many marshals were involved? The Course Director must have called in a few favours or have promised beers to a lot of people - fantastic contribution from you all - thanks!
On a related note, I couldn't help but notice the new approach to road crossings. In previous years, marshals directed runners and drivers with great aplomb and authority and I had never felt at the slightest risk. This year, the county's manual "Stop/Go" sign operators had been drafted in to make sure the risk of runners and drivers meeting was reduced further. I hadn't perceived any weaknesses in previous years, but this new approach certainly gave runners even more confidence to step off the kerb and cross the road without further ado. Whether drivers were quite as happy with the arrangement, I would doubt. It seemed that there were several queues which might well have led to some frustration. This is one for the race organisers to weigh up - and I would not be surprised if they get some negative feedback from other quarters - and I will simply thank them for continuing to strive for improvements that make this an even better experience for runners.
The course itself is fantastic and needs no changes. There is plenty of variety, both urban and rural, and all the old highlights are there - the turkey farm, the long straight footpath sections, the glimpses of the Thames with its dinghy sailors and its rowers, the villages, the Milton commercial estate with its colony of noisy fetchies - and the only section that I dislike is the short run around the grounds of the sports centre (presumably the best way of making up the distance) before you hit the track for the final lap.
Excellent work from the marshals and the drinks station teams. I think the latter had all received training in handing out cups. At the first station, I reached out for a cup and the chap seemed to be pulling it away just as my hand got near! I soon got the hang of it! As for the beakers, I wrote about these last year and don't have an issue with them. As it is October, I really think that water bottles would largely go to waste. In fact I felt quite guilty discarding my Lucozade bottle after taking only a few sips. I would rate the mix of drinks/sponge stations as just right.
As for my run, I enjoyed it immensely. I had run the Berlin Marathon only three weeks previously and running another marathon so soon was a new experience. I was prepared for the worst, but managed to churn out 7:30-minute miles for the first 22 miles. Thanks to two runners for their company from about mile 14 to mile 22 (one from Woodstock who was doing his 100th marathon and one with a shaved head who seemed well on the way to beating his 3:21 PB). I ran out of steam at that point and they sped off into the sunset. I realised afterwards that I had been running at my theoretical maximum HR for the whole of miles 21 and 22, so my slowdown was probably inevitable, but I'll admit to being pleased to keep the pace going for that long! My finish time was still my 2011 SB!
And so to the finish. Excellent finishing "funnel" again - nice T-shirt (and good to have another "new" colour) and the free hot drink is a good touch. Yes, the goody bag was a bit light, but it had all the essentials. Many thanks to all involved in making this one of the top events of the running year. Date of review: October 17, 2011