In short: Flat, fast, low key and well-organised. In full: Small friendly village feel to the race, but everything you need was there - changing facilities, showers, plenty of marshalls, 3 water stations, tea and buns etc. And dead flat - quiet country lanes throughout, so times should be fast. Small field means running solo for much of the race, mind. Big up to Boston & District AC. Date of review: April 14, 2009
In short: Great city, mostly well organised race, but PLEASE listen to the feedback about cups at water stations! In full: Pluses: The route is a pretty good compromise, after chopping and changing for a few years. The inclines are manageable, but the steep descent between the Zoo and the Shore Road is tough. I don't know an alternative, without a major route change though. Crowds and atmosphere were OK - better than I expected, but not spectactular. The relay stations seemed very well behaved and organised when I passed them (3:15 pace), but I'm quite sure they must have got more frantic further down the field. Personally, I didn't mind that this was a relay event simulataneously - I thought that I would, but it wasn't too bad. There were lots of water stations - great. Although what they were handing out is a different matter.... see below. Finishers medal is nice, and the finish area generally and bag transfer all worked fine.
Minuses: Biggest issue I have - small plastic cups at water stations, instead of bottles. Cups are OK for small local 10k races, with no budget and fields of 200. But not for a big city marathon. Especially with Deep River Rock as the main sponsor (I don't suppose it will be upsetting Coca Cola shareholders too much to have lost my custom, but they have now). Every year this feedback is provided. And it still isn't fixed. If other marathons can get this right, why not Belfast?? If there is going to be a marathon walk on the same course, same day - then it MUST have a different start time. The (otherwise OK) start was spoiled by walkers setting off at the same time ahead of runners. I was positioned around the 3:30 / 4:00h predicted finishing time in the start area, and had to sidestep to avoid dozens of walkers in the first 200m or so. It's not just inconvenient and stressful, it's also dangerous. Just start them an hour before (or 10 minutes after). How hard could that be? Mile markers weren't clear enough. Some were only painted on the ground. They need to be up high, both sides of the route, and in a very bright colour. Finally - If I was a visitor, then the trip out to pick up the race pack would have frustrated me too. There must be somewhere more central that could be used for this. Date of review: May 15, 2008
In short: The Antrim coast - conditions might be tough, but made up for by the scenery In full: This race could easily rate wildly differently every year, entirely due to the conditions. This year there was a fierce northerly wind, making the first 5 miles running up the coast road very tough. Smart runners forgot about their target pace and got tucked in to a big group. There's then a 3 mile sections with a few climbs to form a short loop around the villages of Ballygally and Cairncastle, before coming home on the cost road again - this time it was downwind.
Well organised, plenty of marshalls (although that didn't stop a number of drivers determined to display their impatience and idiocy). Date of review: April 4, 2008
In short: Really well organised, great course, loved it! In full: Well Done Everyone Involved!! Thanks for running such a good race. Great new course (the scene after turning left at the top of Gibbet Hill around 8 miles was just glorious), loads of marshalls, start and finish went like clockwork. OK, so we all would have preferred to get timing chips through the post, but it was such a brezze collecting them that it didn't really matter. Great T-shirt, chocolate, banana, juice, water, medal, foil blanket and more besides at the finish. I really really enjoyed the day. Many residents were out to cheer us along, all the roads were properly closed off, water stations worked great, and the weather was just about perfect (cool and dry). See you next year! Date of review: November 7, 2006