In short: One of my all time favourite races- helped by a PB In full: Excellent marshals who encouraged us round. Lots of them seemed to be from the local clubs which always helps. Plenty of drinks stations in the right places. Great organisation too, from the race pack to the website to the day itself. The traffic controls are a godsend and made me feel much safer on crossing the roads. Please extend my thanks to the turkeys and geese at Peachcroft farm who cheered us on too (just don't mention Christmas to them!). Date of review: October 16, 2011
In short: If any race could convert me from my determination never to do another marathon this wlould be it In full: I was massively impressed by the efficiency and good humour of the marshalls at the busy road crossings. I don't know how you did it, but it worked. Loads of water stations also brilliantly manned. Can't think of a single bad thing. The bag drop queue also went down so fast you nearly had to jog to keep up. And I finished well under my four hour target! V happy with that for a marathon farewell run. Thanks loads to all involved. Date of review: October 16, 2011
In short: A great race - slick organisation & perfect weather In full: Tha marshalls make this race, they were without exception friendly, enthisiastic and brilliant at controlling traffic - thank you all very much. Date of review: October 16, 2011
In short: This marathon is simply PERFECTION In full: All marathons should be like this. As the last review from 2010 said, low numbers beats big city marathons.
Obviously support isn't going to be in the numbers for something like the VLM, but for a course that is run mainly on open country roads the support was outstanding. Many, many thanks to the supporters who made the effort to come out and cheer us running idiots on. Your support means a lot and that's why I'm scoring atmosphere so highly.
Great marshalling too. Loads of marshals and loads of water stops, plus isotonic drinks and solids at various stages. Without the marshals this race, like all others, couldn't happen. So you guys giving up half a day to stand around helping us out is well appreciated.
As for the race itself, I don't think you could get better weather. A chilly start with the sun rising in the sky made way for a pleasant slightly cloudy morning and then the sun came back to shine on us at the finish. Wonderful.
Oh, and I got a PB with 3:55 so I'm one happy Chubster.
Other marathon organisers - get hold of Dene Stringfellow and his team for advice. They know what they're doing and I've been at a number of superb runs by these guys this year. Absolutelty faultless from my point of view. Date of review: October 16, 2011
In short: Fantastic race, low numbers beats big city marathons any day. In full: The only downside is trying to drink out of plastic cups when running, not easy! Other than that, no complaints at all. Date of review: November 6, 2010
In short: Every bit as good as the 2009 event. In full: I took part in the Abingdon Marathon for the first time in 2009 and duly spent the winter waiting for entries for the 2010 event to open. This is a deservedly popular race and it fills up pretty quickly. The number 42 may or may not be the answer to life, the universe and everything, but it was certainly the answer to my race entry.
Once again, I decided to get up early and face the 80 mile drive from Bristol via the M4 and the A34 rather than stay in Abingdon overnight. There is plenty of parking at Abingdon College at 7.00am and marshals were already on hand. There is a fifteen minute walk to the sports centre in Tilsley Park and already there is a sense of occasion with "Road Closed" signs and marshals all over the place.
Having mentioned marshals twice already, I'll say here what a fantastic team they are at this event. The road closures are partial and so some of the run is on open roads. In a couple of places, this involves crossing two-way traffic or negotiating T-junctions with cars all around. The marshals do a spectacular job, both controlling the runners ("Don't cross yet, stay on THIS side!", "Cross HERE!") and stopping the traffic. This means that I felt safe and secure running into the road and across the traffic when instructed to do so. No hesitation or change in pace required. This is a well-drilled team! Thanks to all of you!
Back to the start. This is a good location and everything seems to be on hand. There are refreshment stands, vending machines in the Sports Centre, clothing lockers and plenty of warm spaces indoors. I failed to check my gel supply until after the shops closed on the Saturday, so if there are any running shop managers in Abingdon who are wondering whether it is worth putting up a stall next year, well, you would have had one customer (who would have spent a pound or two!).
The course was the same as in 2009 - a five mile outward run, two nine-mile loops and three miles back to base. It is flat and, again, it was the ramp up from the underpass in the town centre that seemed to provide the steepest challenge. I like the course. The commercial estate (twice) isn't to everyone's taste, but it's only a mile or two each time and it's certainly traffic free. It's also the adopted home of fetchpoint! I use the fetch website and I’m not sure whether that makes me a fetchie (I wasn't wearing any distinguishing logos), but the fetchpoint is definitely worth a visit. On the first lap, I ran through without being noticed, but they had warmed up by the second lap and were making a huge amount of noise for all the runners, fetchies or not. Great stuff!
The scenery is mixed, but there is enough variety to keep it interesting. From the turkey farm (did that solitary escapee that seemed to be running down the drive to the road ever complete the marathon?) to the river and the rowers, from the bells of St Helen's Church to the footpath section that may be an old railway line, it kept on changing.
There are a couple of comments below about the water cups. I am in two minds about this. Having campaigned successfully for a switch to bottles at the Chippenham Half, I don't feel the same need to do so here. Firstly, the event is over a month later and the temperature lower, so you don't need to take on so much liquid. Secondly, the water supplies are supplemented by two lucozade stops and two sponge stops, so you are not totally dependent on having a good drinking-from-open-beakers-while-running technique. I'm really not sure about this one.
The stadium finish is very good. It's a tough run in, with the winding route around Tilsley Park and then a lap of the track, but the good thing is that there's no sense of anti-climax. Finishing arrangements and the "funnel" work really well and the goodies are appreciated - water, goodie bag, medal, a great T-shirt (top marks for the colour and the techie material) and a free hot drink. Good changing facilities and showers too.
Many thanks to the organisers for another excellent event.