In short: never again In full: I was annoyed by the lack of the promised gels. poorly marshalled in places. But to find out only one marathon runner ran the full distance and all other runner were misdirected and ran over 200m short is quite frankly pathetic. I will never run there again and will avoid any race with the same 'organisers' This was my first marathon, i completed the race and still haven't run a marathon. thanks for nothing. Date of review: May 30, 2013
In short: Challenging but fun for this marathon first timer! In full: This was my first marathon and for me the huge high point was that due to the nature of the route my family managed to see me at around 6 points round the course and get to the finish in time which was a massive boost for me. The marshalls were very encouraging as were the supporters who braved the cold, wind and rain to cheer us on. You can't do much about the weather but that wind was tough especially combined with the hills around mile 18 onwards which I wasn't really expecting. Loved running down towards the seafront, over the bridge and through the parks - some of it wasn't quite so scenic but at least it was varied! All in all a great first marathon experience and hasn't put me off doing another! Been showing off my medal and fab t-shirt with pride ever since. Date of review: May 8, 2013
In short: Reasonable if slightly dull race, definitely still learning as an event. In full: I did the full marathon while my wife did the half so overall, between us we got a good sense of this race.
Firstly the route: The route was, as has been mentioned, very loopy (presumably to minimise road closures), but for me this was to the detriment of the race. It got more than a little boring running up and down the same residential streets and just doing a 180degree turn at the end and while I appreciate Sunderland is not New York or even London, some of these streets were either industrial estates or through derelict areas, doesn't give you the best impression of what is really a fine city. The rotten hill at mile 18-19 was also a bit mean and probably robbed more than a few of a PB but at least you got to see the impressive windmill up there!
Organisation / Planning: I found it frustrating that the Half Marathon, Relay and Full Marathon all set off at the same time which made it a bit of a bun fight initially though it did thin out particularly after the half'ers had finished. Another result of the looping was bizarrely positioned water / isotonic stations, some of which you passed twice within 10 mins or less due to the loop effect, a few extra toilets at stations would have been nice, maybe an open urinal for the men so ladies can use the portaloos in peace, at most stations there were no more that 4-6 portaloos which was nowhere near enough and resulted in large queues when I passed by. Most folk disappeared to the side of the roads to relieve themselves on some of the quieter bits and parks which is never nice to see. Also not a fan of the water bags / isotonic boxes as you cant put the top back on and run with it, you've either got to drink it all down in one go or discard it after a sip which is a bit of a waste.
Weather: As others have mentioned the conditions were pretty awful, gale force winds to start (which apparently stopped organisers putting up much of the hoardings and signage - which led to difficulties at the end). A nasty cloudburst late on made sure everyone was soaked prior to finishing!
Atmosphere: The atmosphere at the race was friendly and the good people of Sunderland came out to shout and cheer which was great, though they were few in number along certain sections of the course. Nicest part was the brief run along the River Wear and the coastal section (twice), some nice enough bits in the parks but you had to dodge small children running across parts of the route which was in the play park. There was a rather sad pasta party the night before with some terrible music (just my taste I guess but some X-Factor guy apparently) and really quite mean portions of pasta which didn't really have any protein or sauce present in it, had to fill up elsewhere afterwards.
Finish: The race finish was welcome and it was nice to finish near the stadium of light, though I found it really odd that you didn't get your medal or goody bag upon finishing but rather had to wander around to an unsigned entrance to the stadium and you had to go and find your own medal and goody bag! All very odd. Was ok for me as I managed to get a t-shirt (pretty decent too) but my wife couldn't get one in her size as they'd run out of small half marathon t-shirts which is not great (though it transpired the reason for this was the organisers had a van stolen which had t-shirts in and they've since offered to send out the missing t-shirts - so well done to them there). The goody bag was poor otherwise (aside from the Clif bar) but it was great that there was tons of banana's available. Bag drop area also didn't feel especially secure either, no attendants and no numbering of bags.
Final word about the announcer on the day who was terrible, haranguing the later finishing marathon runners as they approached the finish line continually trying to get them to run. I'm all for encouragement but this felt awkward and more like he was trying to embarrass folk who were clearly knackered!
The organisers are clearly learning as this is a young event. Am sure 2014 will be better though I'll probably try elsewhere.
In short: Good alternative to London for a Spring marathon In full: Not as flat as London but generally flattish with a few undulations. Coastal in second half or race so wind can be (and was!) an issue. Route has lots of loops which was a little annoying as a runner but did make it easy for spectators to spot at several places without going far, also quite nice to see how friends are getting on as there a plenty of times when you see the faster & slower runners going in the opposite direction. Great atmosphere & organisation pretty good. Date of review: May 1, 2013
In short: No longer a Virgin In full: Picked this for my 1st attempt at a full marathon, partially due to the description "flat/undulating" When your legs are starting to ache at 17 miles the last thing you need is 120ft climb over 1.5 miles! hardly undulating, I never walked though. I ran with a workmate, as it turns out, her bottom looks good in shorts so the hill did pass quickly but took its toll. It was nice to run along the seafront, tide was out and the views along the beaches were nice. A couple of sojourns through parkland help with the scenery but otherwise it is quite urban. Not sure about the frequent "looping" up a road then back down the opposite side. Small pockets of spectators along the way but there were long stretches with little encouragement. Rain tried to spoil the day for 1/2hr but I can't hold that against the race. The organisation of the event was bang on, my personal experience was hitch-free. I would give this one another go. Date of review: April 30, 2013
In short: Excellent organisation, Excellent atmosphere... overall excellent event. In full: I have never been to a race so well organised. The walk around the stadium at the end of the race was a nice touch to. I got a pb myself and would certainly be returning to this event again.... maybe for the marathon. Date of review: April 28, 2013