Didn't ever occur to anyone that some people run with headphones due to say social anxiety or panic attacks? In recent years I've done races without them, but I doubt I would have ever started racing if I couldn't have worn them in the past. Sometimes people's mental health does make them "scared of the prospect of hearing their own thoughts". Sure not everyone that wears them does so because of this, but as long as those wearing them are careful and ensure they are aware of those around them (btw I train along a canal path and am always aware of other path users behind me - also not everyone listens to music) I don't think we should be putting people off entering races.
They have had a thing of letting people who might finish over 5 hours start early in the past, so it's worth looking into.
It is a lovely marathon to do. Not the most scenic and some people find the 3 laps mentally tough, but actually in some ways that can make it easier - you just tell yourself you are doing a just under 9 mile run each time It's very well organised and, for a marathon that is prone to bad weather, has good support. There's also a relay race which means you tend to be over taken by people on the second and third lap who appear remarkably fresh, but again this can be used to your advantage too. Would definitely recommend this.
Dustboy - I was standing by the table and yes a bottle was thrown. It, thankfully, hit the wall rather than any people. I wish I had been able to spot who it was though to have asked what the hell they thought they were doing.
Heathrunner - as I understand it the ice refroze after thawing. In this situation, with it seeming to get colder rather than warmer, it would have meant re-gritting constantly - not logically possible on particular areas of the course. It is frustrating but I really do not think they had any choice.
I also want to echo the comments by people like Plodding Hippo that this really is a great and very well organised race and I really recommend those that missed out today entering again next year.