In short: Poor organisation let down the runners In full: Lets get something straight. Not mailing out the race packs is not saving the carbon footprint. How can it when everyone has to travel individually into an extremely busy Brighton city centre? It took me 3 hours to drive to Brighton, and a further 3.5 hours to park up, queue up and collect an envelope, and then drive out of Brighton to my hotel in Worthing.
If I'm honest, the queue at the Expo was so long I seriously considered driving home and abandoning the 16 weeks of training. Only my stubborn streak (instilled in all long distance runners!)prevented me from doing so.
Honestly, the day before a marathon you want to be off your feet for as long as possible.
Surely the truth is that Expo's make money for the organisers and are no doubt demanded by key sponsors. We're paying good money for these events, why can't we at least have the option of it being posted (doesn't seem to bother the Great North Run for instance!), or the Expo should stay open until much later on the Saturday and be in a considerably more accessible location. Feels like the organisers want to offload the problem of race pack distribution to the runners, and make extra profit at the same time.
1. Why no sub 3:15 pen available for non-elite runners? I emailed 2 weeks before the event and asked at the Expo - no answer.
2. Start area - shocking lack of toilets and very muddy. Don't get me started on the tiny clothes bags - ripped instantly!
3. Cups - no problem with these, most European marathons use them, there is a drinking technique whereby it shouldn't slow you down.
4. Crowd support and marshals - all fantastic - a big thank you - as always we couldn't do it without you.
5. A tiny bottle of water at the end. No chocolate. Come on guys, I've just run a marathon. Surely I can have a decent sized bottle of water and a chocolate treat?!
6. When leaving the finish zone I asked two marshals for the nearest tap to fill up my bottle. No one seemed to speak English.
Overall, a decent course, excellent support, glad I've done it once but for the reasons above it was pretty disappointing.
I didn't see the point of having to travel to collect the race packs. The expo was tiny and pointless, talks about marathon running aren't much use 2 days before you actual do it.
The final instructions had a list of what to bring in the kit bag on the day. The kit bags were a joke, so small. A week later I saw the size of the London marathon bags, much better.
Preston Park - toilet queues as far as the eye can see. Most people want to go before a long race, it's part of the routine. They seemed to have only a third of what was needed.
Water stations too close to energy drink stations. I asked if it was water being given out as I ran, two times when the reply was yes I was given energy drink (never try anything new on race day etc..).
After the finish line, with a very average medal, there was a water stop. Also need one after the baggage pickup as you won't want to walk back that far for another bottle (or remember to get a couple of bottles). The finish area village was a farce. Crowds of people just wanting to get back towards the pier and meet with friends, not queuing to get through the crush (we've just run for hours).
The course itself was good, a nice hill for a bit of a challenge but not too steep, well organised in stark contrast to the above points. Towards the power station it wasn't very nice as the sun came out to heat us up and it's not very interesting. Some entertainment there would be good as hitting the wall could use a distraction. The volunteers (with the exception of the 2 people that told me it was water) were great and music around the rest of the course a nice touch. Thank you volunteers and marshalls.
If they sort out the kit bag size, get rid of the expo/pointless travel for an A4 envelope race pack, drastically increase the number of toilets in Preston Park and look at tweaks as mentioned then this would have been outstanding. If you can put up with the above then I'd still recommend it as a first marathon but look elsewhere otherwise. I'll be back if they sort out the problems in 2017. Date of review: May 5, 2016
In short: Great atmosphere despite chaotic organisation In full: The sun shone, the crowds were great, it's a lovely course and I got a pb all of which makes me forgive the terrible organisation. My fellow runners have summarised all the failures comprehensively so I won't repeat it all again.
What I really don't understand is why things are getting worse? Normally the organisation improves every year so that at London (for example) it's now virtually faultless. So why are Brighton's organisers going backwards? I love the atmosphere of this race so I may run again next year..... but unless things start improving fast 2017 will be the last time. Date of review: April 23, 2016
In short: My First Marathon and loved it ! In full: This was my first marathon and it was a great experience for me , I read here that some people were disappointed with some things but for me collecting my number was smooth and the overall organisation was fantastic .My family and I drove down on Friday from Hereford ( about 188 miles).On Saturday I collected my number ( no queues outside ) then my kids had fun at pier. On Sunday I got a taxi to drop me close to the start as we were staying in The Marina. I was there by 7am ! Bit early but time to go to the loo and get my bearings. Yes there were queues for the loos later but the atmosphere chatting to runners was great . At the start there was mud but we were not kept waiting long ( blue wave) and I managed to chat to some lovely people. The race itself was tough but so well supported, I had to smile and high five the little ones. The paper cups for water are tricky but I squash them to make a funnel and then sip the water. At the finish I followed the channel past the baggage , I was chatting to a guy when a lad dashed over with his bag as he had walked past the right lorry ( amazing service) . Anyway my husband had been tracking me on the app so he knew my time and where I was all the time. I found him and my kids on the beach and we walked the 20 mins back to the Marina and then off on our 3.5 hour drive home ! In a nutshell , I loved the route, people and medal !
In short: Sadly my last Brighton marathon In full: This was my 6th Brighton marathon, and I'm afraid that it'll be my last. I've got so much affection for this event and it's upsetting that it now feels as though the organisers have started treating runners as fools and only think about how they can wring more money from them, rather than enhance the race experience.
From the reasons behind the Expo ("it's to reduce carbon footprint".... WHAT?!) to the dreadful communication (email on Saturday morning telling runners that bag size was reduced due to 'security' - even though larger bags were also given out), to the terrible funnelling after the race, cramming hundreds of tired, unwell runners into a holding pen before pushing them through onto the "beach village" where they can - yep - spend more money.
Lack of toilets at the beginning, muddy corrals, poor collaboration with train companies... you might expect this at a small local club run - but not at "the 2nd largest marathon in the UK" as we were frequently told - when the price is considerably more than London.
Sorry Brighton. I feel bad writing this because I love the town, I love the atmosphere of the race, and the course is mostly good - but while you continue to view runners as a commercial enterprise, I won't be back. Date of review: April 23, 2016
In short: Brighton Half Marathon did it better! In full: I am quite new to running events, and now I have done a few I am in a position to compare between events... I afraid to report that the Brighton Half Marathon event did it better!!!
Overall the Brighton Marathon was a good event which I enjoyed, and with it being my first and I am a local it was a convenient way to introduce me to a marathon event.
1) Having to collect you bip number two days / day before the event is just crazy! Being a local was annoying enough as I had to come into Brighon and pay for parking, then queue for ages! Luckily I went on the Friday so the queuing was too bad, but I went back on the Sat to change a top I brought and the queue went round the corner, I would have been livid, especially if I was a non-local. In future these should really be posted out.
2) The start was well organised, with runners being separated into their predicted finish times. However we were all standing in mud, lucky it wasn't raining because I feel this could have turned into a serious health and safety issue! Simple matting would have solved this problem. Also lucky for me I didn't need the toilet before I started, but I passed people queuing for the toilets whose bip numbers were way quicker than my finish time! I personally would have been extremely annoyed if my race was delayed due to a lack of toilets!
3) The water stations were plentiful, and the support from the volunteers there was well appreciated. However the paper cups were a killer for me. Trying to run with a paper cup doesn't work. However working in finance I appreciate that this is a cost saving exercise (plastics bottles cost more... go figure!). But trying to achieve a PB; this would hinder your chance. .
4) The power station was the hardest part, no supporters and it smelt of fish. I really lost motivation here, as did all the rest of the runners I was "walking" with. I appreciate that this is 20 miles in and I was dead so I am not too sure people cheering me on would have helped!
5) The finish line... The bottle of water was tiny! And reading over reviews, I was lucky to get one. But the thing that got me the most, was the medal. One of the biggest aspects for me when doing any event (especially one of this scale) is a decent medal at the end. Although the medal is nice, there was also the 10k event this day, and they received (what appeared to be) the same medal just a different colour! There is quite a difference between a 10k and marathon!
Having ran the Brighton Half Marathon in Feb this year, I would have to say that they did a much better job! Much better organised, better medal, better merchandise, bottled water / energy drinks at the stations, better finish line process. The Brighton Marathron organised need to take a leaf out of their book!!!
In short: NEW PB on a nice course In full: I arrived on Friday to collect my number from the Expo, and there was no queue at all, lovely. Nice little expo. Kit bag was very small though, had it been raining on race day I would not have enough room to pack dry clothes.
Race day started at the Park & Ride (£15 - which I though was expensive), at the AmEx stadium. Very easy, lots of buses, toilets in stadium were open. Got to Preston Park with plenty of time.
Start area very muddy, some people got the idea right and wore carrier bags on their feet before the start. Great to have men's urinals at the park, but really glad I didn't need a portaloo, the queues were amongst the worst I've seen at any race! Baggage drop was fine, and easily made my way to the Red start Coral.
The PA did a really good job at building the atmosphere before the race, and really helped get me into the mood for a good run.
Once we started (via a Zoe Ball High 5!) we got to the first corner of the race & the crowd were silent. Everyone looking for their own runner and forgetting to cheer for everyone else. Maybe someone was needed to gee up the crowd as well as the runners.
I enjoyed the route. The double backs helped to spot all of my club mates at one point or more on the course. The weather was perfect, but I wouldn't want to run the course on a less runner-friendly day (wind / rain) as you are very exposed to the coast. The course was "playful" with some hills / undulation throughout.
NOTE TO ALL RACES - STOP GIVING OUT WATER IN CUPS, IT JUST DOESN'T WORK!!! Trying to run whilst drinking from a cup usually ends up in my spilling it down my vest or getting a stitch from gulping it.
Finish area was okay for me, but seemed a bit small for when more runners came in after me. Kit bag collection was fine.
My one main problem was at the end trying to find the P&R back to my car. No signage, marshals had no idea. One tried sending me up 100+ steps, the other pointed me in a completely different direct. I ended up standing with some other lost runners and eventually a bus turned up. It was more luck than judgement I think!
Overall, I enjoyed the run. Would I do it again.... maybe. It wasn't special enough to make me enter again after the race, but I'll never say no in the future. Date of review: April 22, 2016
In short: A lot of criticism, some I'm not sure entirely deserved... In full: This was my third Brighton Marathon for me and always the highlight of my year. I love the whole marathon weekend and my family and I always have a great time.
A lot has been remarked about the number/corral allocation this year where you decide on the day. I was aiming on a sub 3:30:00 this year so wanted to get down early Saturday to collect. What I didn't expect was a train incident at East Croydon train station and practically every train down to the South Coast was severly delayed or cancelled at the last minute. When I eventually got to Brighton by car, the queues were huge and I was asked just to join any corral queue and ask for the pen when at the front to get people through and processed quicker. Got a feeling the mass queues at 14:00 in the afternoon and onwards was more to do with the horrific incident rather than poor event planning from organisers, also horrible weather on the south coast Friday meant not many came down to the exhibiton until Saturday. Could they control the weather? Bit harsh to criticise if these were what caused the issues.
Getting to the race also had a snag outside the event organsiers control - someone decided to park their van on the main pavement the runners walked on and therefore there was a funnel which hadn't been there the year before. Event organisers fault for illegal parking by someone else? Think not.
Ironically, I did comment to my family that if this was my first Brighton marathon, with the trouble I had getting down and to the start I probably wouldn't do this again, but also commented its a shame that things totally out of the event's control had made this year a slightly more negative processing and race start experience.
Preston Park was as magic as ever and the corraled system was an improvement over people in other coloured pens sneaking in a faster pen after they walked through their allocated sections. The course was wonderful except for the usual power station stretch which surprisingly went quicker than it has done the past few years? Was it because I ran quicker? Who knows!
Anyway, I'm not going to let one year stop me from entering what is my favourite event of the year. Maybe it's rose tinted glasses that makes me see the positive in this race but water stations were cups this year and last, so can't see why people would be surprised if they weren't Brighton marathon "regulars". Crowd were electric as ever and I always say that this is a must do for any serious marathon runner. Date of review: April 21, 2016