In short: Lovely views, but the course itself left me shaking my head. In full: The weather was absolutely gorgeous and the scenery, when near the coastal path was lovely, but the course itself had me constantly shaking my head, wanting to get sections over with and really looking forward to finishing – and I love marathons! I just wanted to break free of the course and run off somewhere, as the area looks beautiful. The problems were - like a lot of people have already expressed - the switchbacks, the lapping and looping, the confinement of the course and the repetitiveness. The course also caused some confusion; there were runners from every angle at different parts of the course and it became hard to imagine where you had to go next. Running over the bridge to an industrial estate was dreadful…running over it again was a nightmare. Running past the finish line at 20 miles, to go 3 miles out and then 3 miles back again was quite possibly the worst bit of all.
I’m not denying that the race organisers didn’t try to put on a great event, but to be called ‘The Great Welsh Marathon’, I really think the course structure needs to be reworked completely. I know for 2011 they have now changed the course, but I’ve just taken a peek and there is still so much lapping and looping. I’ve now done 50+ marathon/ ultra events and honestly, if this had been my first I think it would have really put me off marathons for a little while.
I think the idea of the event, the location and the friendliness are all excellent, but the course itself really lets it down. I think it’ll be hard for the course to cope with an expansion of runners and like others think it might be a trouble to marshal. I understand that the looping/ out & back nature of the route ensures a tighter control over the race as a whole, but surely there are other measures that can be taken to ensure the race is kept safe and manageable.
In short: Marathon In full: I think the first half was definitely the better half. It had a bit more undulation, which was definitely better on my legs - which sounds silly, but I like a bit of up and down, sometimes it makes it interesting & I found the second half pretty 'tough' going in some ways as it was just so flat and straight. This definitely make it harder on my legs & feet, as I just felt like I was shuffling along & lost a bit of motivation due to the straightness. Also, going round that 'rowing lake was a bit torturous, again because it was so straight and flat and went on forever, but also because you ran one side of it and then came back round and ran the other side of it & you could see the other runners on the adjacent side. There were a few points that this happened after 18 miles or so. But, despite my protests at some of the second half, I did manage to sprint to the finish, so not all bad hehe.
The organisation was really good. The marshals were friendly and encouraging and the drinks stations were excellent; with energy drinks, water & even gels. Definitely well organised. The medal was also fantastic. Even little touches of the marshals putting a foil blanket over you at the end were really nice.
On a personal note, I ended up feeling quite swollen today; I’m thinking it’s definitely through lack of salt. This prob didn’t help my ‘obsessing’ over the boringness of the straight roads (haha, I just can’t let it go).
But overall it was a nice race to do & everyone seemed a friendly bunch & the organisation was smooth & welcoming.
Okey dokey, ramble over :) Date of review: September 13, 2009
In short: Mmm...Sweaty (I didn't know what to type in here :P) In full: Glad I did it, but wasn't sure I totaly enjoyed it - although I ended up not feeling too well early on for some strange reason and the air felt quite humid. Th sponges they gave us were really appreciated though. I'm used to hilier races, but just can't put my finger on why I didn't like these undulations too much (may be the long straight stretchs of road).
Goody bag made me giggle; the banana & water were great, but wasn't sure what the cotton buds and shower cap were all about hehe. Track finish was a nice touch - the commentator shouted my name wrong though (I'm not a grumpy person honest haha, but when you hear Liz TUNA instead of TUNNA, it takes you back to your school days...) Date of review: June 28, 2009
In short: My first marathon & I want more - loved it! :) In full: The atmosphere was warm and welcoming, the marshalls were friendly, the nice little touches such as the mint cake at the fuel stations was really nice (in fact I thought the water stations as a whole were really good).
Some nasty little hills in there (probably seemed worse the more tired the legs got).
Only problem I had - not with the race itself - was with the parking. Was a little nervous at the start as we were stuck in a que for so long, leading into Brathay. On the way out this was much worse - we were stuck in the carpark for over an hour in non-moving ques - though I think this may have mainly been down to the rain which had made the grass muddy & caused loads of cars to get stuck in the mud & need towing out.
Ramble over :) - Overall, a lovely, friendly race which I absolutely loved. Date of review: May 17, 2009
In short: Woooo - hills, but strangely enjoyable :p In full: Yey, I got a PB & what lovely scenery :) It was a strange day; if felt really quite hot and sunny, while at the same time there was quite a cold wind. There were quite a few hills, but they were strangely enjoyable and made things interesting. The only thing I struggled with largely was the fact that my stomach didn't feel its best from about 5 miles in (the hills prob didn't make it any better haha) & I kept wondering, Mmmm I wonder if there is a toilet anywhere...still I survived...momentary discomfort and all that :p
Would love to do it again. Date of review: May 5, 2009
In short: Amazing, breath taking scenery :) In full: I only decided to enter this for sure around 2 weeks ago; I hadn’t trained too hard and was a little scared about the prospect of the infamous hill - but I decided to go for it & really wanted the experience and the challenge. It was absolutely amazing; everyone was so friendly & the downhill section at around mile 7 really let you appreciate the absolutely beautiful scenery. I loved it & some bits, especially mile 18 were very challenging but the feeling of accomplishment and the high you get from taking part in such a great race was definitely worth it. Don’t over think it, do it! :) Date of review: March 23, 2009