In short: A tougher than advertised marathon - not really good for PBs In full: 'The course is traffic free on closed roads and cycle paths or “redways” as they are known locally, the course is gently undulating with no significant incline providing real PB potential.' So says the MK Marathon website. I entered this race some months ago chasing 2:45. When I was made aware of the second half of the course using mostly the redways and underpasses, I baulked and entered Rotterdam, using this as a back up instead. I'm very glad I did.
Many of the issues have been already highlighted below and I'll echo those sentiments. Having run Rotterdam I chose to help pace someone at a considerably slower pace than even my long Sunday runs. That said, by 22 miles I was pretty much spent and totally sympathised with my friend who had long since hit the wall and was utterly frustrated by the constant undulations, twists and turns, which although there was no one climb that was that steep or long, had a cumulatively devastating affect on tired legs (I clocked the run as having 970ft elevation - hardly flat by any stretch of the imagination). I'd actually state that recognised hilly marathons such as Winderemere or Taunton were easier than this course. If Milton Keynes wants to be taken seriously as a leading 'city marathon' it needs to be run in its entirety on closed roads and give up on the idea of using the redways - there are no shortage of them and they are generally forgiving in their nature (If a little boring). I thought crowd support was good, as were the marshals. The start was poorly thought out with mixed abilities all over the place. Also some of the water stations were a bit amateur hour in how they handed out drinks - not enough volunteers manning them in many instances. For the price I'd also expect a free t-shirt with the medal. Hate to say I would never race this again, but without major changes I cannot recommend it - unless that is you like major challenges! Date of review: May 6, 2014
In short: Overall a good event but I would not call it flat. In full: I enjoyed the day but I would imagine the fact it was advertised as a flat PB course would have upset a lot of people. The 2nd half of this course is tough. It really challenges the legs with the constant twisting course and the up and downs of the Redways. I understand why the organisers have used the fantastic cycle network Mk has, but if they have aspirations of being a big/top city marathon then they need to use more of the nice flat roads. In fact at 23 miles I think the constant up and down was making me go mad as I started to dream of lovely, flat well tarmac roads. Saying that, I did run a PB but I think that was more down to prior race expectations and pure painful determination rather than the course being as advertised. VIP parking was a mess, needs looking at for next year, but overall I thought well advertised and I enjoyed the stadium finish. Plenty of water stations, which were well manned. Marshalls were good and supportive, some enthusiastic spectators as well. I would do it again, but it is a tougher course than advertised. Date of review: May 6, 2014
In short: One hell of a tough course if your running hard for a PB In full: Ok, so they warned you about the "undulations" but the website states "(it) is gently undulating with no significant incline providing real PB potential"
Err, I dont think so. The course is twisty, tricky and has enough steep sharp hills from Mile 20 to rob you of your chance to run to your full potential. Even the 3hr pace maker was telling everyone that you have to run the first 20 miles at 2:50-2:55 pace and rely on hanging on to 3:05 pace to dip under 3hrs.
The supporters on the route were good, they are quite spaced out and in little pockets and not quite as many as I was expecting but they come along at the right places I guess. Certainly not "big city" marathon feel though.
Finishing in the stadium is good but it is a quite tight finish as you run on the 8ft wide stretch of cover at the side of the pitch (not like Reading Half where they lay plastic matting down on the pitch to make the finish about 15-20ft wide.
I found the parking just fine to be honest, we got to the roundabout where you turn off to the new shopping centre next to the stadium for 9:30am and I made the start in plenty of time. That part was marshaled well.
In short: In full: A very well organised marathon! The MK supporters were great with lots of encouragement and sweets which I loved. The stadium finish was fab! The surroundings were dull, the second half better than the first half to be honest. I had to get out of the car and walk as the cars didn't seem to move. It was my first marathon and I really found the last 5 miles very hard, the flat course (that wasn't flat) didn't really help. I promised myself I would never run a marathon anymore but have been looking online already for another one........ Date of review: May 6, 2014
In short: A solid marathon helped greatly by friendly locals In full: This was my second marathon, and despiting missing my target of 4 hours, by 4 minutes, it was a hard but enjoyable marathon. The scenery is not the best, but it was well organised, the locals were out in force and really helped. Also big thanks to the pace men, I hanged with the 3 hour 45 man for 8 miles from mile 10, before the legs cramped up and I fell back... One negative point, despite messages to runners not to run with audio equipment, hundreds still did. Not only is this against the rules, I was knocked a number of times as their spatial awareness was obviously impared. Please, please if you are going to mention not to use equipment, then enforce it, as it happened on a number of occasions. The vast majority of runners were courteous, looked before pulling-out / overtaking etc. I may be back next year. Thanks again. Date of review: May 6, 2014
In short: Surprisingly tough course with lots of inclines just when you don't need them! In full: Not quite the "flattish" course I was expecting, particularly in the second half of the race with far too many underpasses/steep inclines. Good crowd support at the beginning and end with a nice finish in the stadium. Parking was a nightmare - took me 45 minutes to get out of the car park at the end which is the last thing you need after running a marathon. Organisers need to take these comments on board if they want to attract runners to return. Date of review: May 6, 2014
In short: MK needs a major course rethink In full: For some reason I gave this event the benefit of the doubt after doing the Marathon last year I returned to run the half this year. This event needs a major course rethink.
It all started with the traffic chaos approaching the stadium. Not sure what was going on but traffic wasn’t moving, a problem that we didn’t have last year. This caused us (4 in a car so we did our bit) to be late arriving in the stadium. The scramble for the final toilet stop was made even more difficult as a result. Football stadiums have plenty of urinals but don’t really have enough ‘traps’ for a marathon. A few portaloo’s outside would have helped.
The start was chaotic. No markers were displayed for pace. Slower runners just jumped in wherever they wanted. This was very frustrating.
Now the course: Terrible. The half was nowhere near as fast as was advertised. It was just a way to squeeze as much money out of this event as possible. Even the section around the lake at 11 miles (which should have been so good) was bad. The path around this section was in real poor condition and in parts a hazard.
The stadium finish was fantastic and it was nice sitting around in the sun waiting for friends to finish the marathon.
So, in summary: The stadium is fantastic (apart from a lack of ‘traps’), it’s just that both courses need a major rethink. Surely, closed flat roads are possible in MK.
Oh, I’d also prefer the race on the Sunday. Means everyone can have a drink after the race and not have to worry about work the next day.
I’ll never say never but as it stands I won’t be coming back.
In short: Let down by the second half of the course In full: Well organised race on a nice day. Some issues at the start with slow runners at the front, but it cleared up within a mile on wide roads, so not too big a problem.
However, although I got a PB, I'm not convinced with the second part of the course: Too many twists and turns, sharp ups and downs, on narrowing footpaths, for my liking. I found it very hard to find any sort of rythm. In my opinion, this needs to be looked at to qualify as a city marathon: hills are OK, but not constant changes of gradient, direction and road surface. Date of review: May 6, 2014
In short: Not as flat as I was expecting! In full: Excellent organisation and good support on route, but fast and offering PB potential? I'm not quite sure about this!
There weren't any real hills for the first 10 miles, but after this the underpasses kicked in and it was hard to find any rhythm constantly going up and down these. There were also a couple of quite steep hills in the latter stages that I wasn't expecting that knocked the wind out of me.
The route is scenic enough and the stadium finish was nice too. Date of review: May 6, 2014