In short: Stone-age timing system In full: Not a bad race, but why-oh-why use the same timing system with which they had huge problems at the Leicester Marathon in October '13?? So guess what..?.. timing problems! This time due to "strong wind" (in Leicester it was the rain, apparently...). My chip fell out of the flimsy plastic bag attached to the back of my number during my warm up. Which was fortunate, because I heard it drop, and put it in my glove for the race. If it had fallen out during the race I might not have noticed.
Couple of other areas for improvement - marshalls near the finish should be able to tell runners exactly how far it is to the finish, not "it's not far" - goody bag (specifically medal and t-shirt) wasn't great. Date of review: March 26, 2014
In short: Great event In full: I really enjoyed this race. The route is incredible. And very tough. The camaraderie between runners was good. The food and drink stops were well stocked, and the organisers were very enthusiastic. The only gripe was that signage in places could have been improved. I spoke to a couple of runners who went in a wrong direction. Also at the 20-mile food stop, while I was removing my soaking socks (next time I'll carry a change of socks!) I saw two separate runners head off in the wrong direction. The crew realised after the first one, but didn't do anything to try and prevent it happening again, and it did.
Overall though, if you want a marathon to remember, this is it. To give you an idea of how hard it is, I did a 03:23 the week before and a 03:13 the week after, but the Glencoe Marathon took me 04:49... Date of review: October 28, 2013
In short: Too much emphasis on the half-marathon In full: This was a pretty good marathon. The weather was beautiful, which helped. Overall though there was too much focus on the half-marathon. So if, like me, you were running the full marathon then you had to run most of the second half of the run with few other runners and fewer spectators (despite the glorious weather). The route could have taken in more of Nottingham's sights too. Other small gripes;
1) the two people manning the water station at about 14 or 15 miles weren't paying attention (probably because of the time gaps between the small number of full marathon runners), so there was a delay while I had to stop, back-track, and wait for them to unpack water for me. 2) The 03:15 pace runner had to stop at about 20 or 21 miles because his arms were tired from carrying the flag. He carried on after stopping, but wasn't pace-ing any more. 3) There seemed to be some mile markers missing between 18 miles and the finish, which is just when you need them. Either that or they weren't obvious. Date of review: October 21, 2013
In short: Not good enough for a marathon in UK's tenth largest city In full: Leicester Marathon was my tenth marathon, at 8 different locations, and the third in as many weeks, and easily the one with most improvements to make.
1. Pre-race instructions - The website was very limited in its instructions. Particularly with respect to travel to the marathon and parking instructions. Parking instructions were not helpful, and seemed to be designed for someone with a good knowledge of the area around Victoria Park. Likewise with travel directions. If you didn't know Leicester well, you would struggle.
2. Collection of race-pack only - Again, this seemed to be designed on the assumption that all runners were from Leicester. Maybe this is the case, but I would have thought the marathon organisers should be encouraging runners from outside of Leicestershire. Posting race-packs makes entering the event much easier for these people.
3. Knowledge of volunteers at race-pack collection point - When I asked what I thought was a simple question (are there going to be any pace-runners?), the response was “sorry, we’re volunteers”. I’m grateful that people give up their time, but it shouldn't be too hard to have someone at registration who can answer questions about the race. This question covered have been covered on the website, but wasn't, and I asked the question via twitter and never got a response.
4. Toilets - There were not nearly enough toilets at the start. There were very large queues right up to the start. I'm sure many people must have started late.
5. Starting in predicted time orders - There were a lot of people who clearly started too close to the front and slowed others down behind them. This could have been stopped by having pens for each predicted time group. The only control were some small signs on the railings. I saw signs for >03:00 and >03:30, with nothing in between. That's a big gap.
6. No pace runners - the first road marathon I've run where there weren't any.
7. Signs on course and instructions from marshalls - There weren’t enough clear signs on the course. At many points it wasn’t very clear in which direction you were supposed to go. For full marathon runners this was a problem. Often I didn’t have sight of the person in front, so I couldn’t see where they had run. The problem was exacerbated by marshalls who weren’t paying attention or whose directions were vague, too quiet, or left it until I was right upon them. I was often asking "which way?!" Also, as someone else has pointed out, there was quite a lot of traffic on the route and it felt a bit risky at some points.
8. Timing chip and system - It wasn't clear from the race-pack instructions whether I should leave the timing chip in the bag on the back of the race number or detach it and attach it to my laces. The instructions seemed to suggest I should leave it in the bag, which I did, but that meant it wasn't possible to provide some of the medical detail on the back of the race number because the bag covered it. Additionally, I saw a lot of people dropping their chip during the race because the bag holding the chip broke open.
9. Post-race - It’s a small detail, but it’s the first marathon where someone hasn't put the medal over my head, rather than just hand it to me still in its plastic wrapper.
10. Water in small plastic cups - it's really difficult to collect and then drink from small plastic cups without breaking stride. I don't think I seen these in a marathon, or race of any kind, before.
Since I've run the race I've seen the public comments from the organisers blaming the rain for the problems with timing chips and talking about a steep learning curve. This is England, in October, so rain shouldn't be an issue, and there are marathons effectively organised and run everywhere, all the time, and have been for years, so I don't see why there should be a "learning curve".
Positives? Just one, considering the weather the support on course was pretty good in parts. Especially in some of the villages furthest away from the city, and around Highcross Shopping Centre (although I do agree with the comment below and felt I was getting in the way of a good day's shopping in some parts of the city). Date of review: October 19, 2013