In short: Very tough but a great challenge and well organised In full: Really enjoyable race, very tough first 5-6 miles which are climbing and climbing and climbing to the top of Wessenden Head Road which affords some incredible views on a good day then a superb downhill along Wessenden trail which does have some flat but the feeling cresting the top of the hill knowing the climbing is done is a great one.
The 2012 race was very welcoming and there were teas/drinks/cakes etc after which were available for a charity donation.
Top value and I'm definitely doing 2013. Date of review: May 31, 2013
In short: Organisation from start to finish was borderline negligent and some serious safety issues. In full: There are lots of horror stories already but for the sake of history and reporting here's ours (wife & I ran together, our 1st marathon).
Greater Manchester Marathon, after about 14 miles, the route out around the countryside and Dunham Massey really wasn't what I'd have expected and the quagmire path around mile 15 with ankle deep mud and water and people shimmying along a fence was also a pretty unexpected sight!
I honestly thought Manchester would be a big enough city not to have what was a truly lonely 8 mile stretch through country roads where there were no spectators (due to location and roads being closed) but I don't know Manchester well enough to know if a "city" marathon was possible.
Marshals/drinks/energy bars on course
The marshals were all wonderful and despite the horrible conditions they also faced standing around offered us encouragement the whole way around. I have to say again with the stretch in the countryside where many people at our pace were struggling left me deeply concerned that if someone had collapsed/fallen then they wouldn't be picked up for a significant amount of time. Extremely dangerous.
Had there not been so many kind supporters on the course including the man and his wife around 20/21 miles who were handing out big clear bags to distressed runners (ourselves included) we wouldn't have finished and we heard many stories of people being picked up and put in spectators cars and houses to warm up.
As we struggled with my wife's injury our 20 mile time of 4.10 meant we were on for just over 5 hours, in the end it was closer to 6 and when we got to the finish it felt the like the officials had packed up and gone home a long time ago.
There was nobody to check we were ok, no sign of medics or space blankets/hot drinks. We were lucky to have arranged to have parents cheer us over the line because without that we'd have no doubt joined the chaos of the bag tent fiasco....
.... a fiasco we didn't get a chance to join because despite arriving at 7am and getting to the course start before 8, all the tents had signs at floor level instead of on top so we only assumed bag drop was the one with hundreds of people queueing. Again, thank you parents for keeping hold of our gear.
From start to finish this event felt massively under staffed. I'm not sure if people didn't turn up but I'm honestly amazed I've not seen reports of tragedy either during or after the race and frankly an email apology about bags really isn't enough.
The organisation in these conditions needed to be excellent. Even on a good day the things that happened at start/finish along with being very understaffed in the remote middle part of the race were frankly dangerous and I'd be tempted to officially request (however you do that) that the people responsible for running this event are not allowed to do so again.
Some of the mistakes and problems wouldn't even be made by an average person having a go at running an event, let alone a professional company charging £40 a pop for entry. Date of review: May 1, 2012