In short: having always loved this marathon this year's has been quite a downer! In full: There have always been a few tweaks required for the marathon but this year's has proved that a lot more need to be sorted out especially if runners are to trn up next year! I've said that I would run in it again, I have my reasons, but certainly not for the organisation etc.
The Good Bits.
The goodie bag. The colour of the t-shirt. The road finish to ensure a sprint finish and not a slippery board over the race course. The selection of Lucozade. Helpful marshals. The views around the chicken farm and the chickens themselves. Receiving the race number before flying to Scotland (it was 'pushing it' the last couple of years). Baggage was not as far from the finish as last year.
The Bad Bits.
Why were some marathon runners being given half marathon finisher t-shirts and medals? The t-shirt's front design was 'boring' and should have been replaced by the back design. No programme or race information or bus ticket was sent with the race number as in previous years - we paid a lot of money for this marathon and yet we were expected to print these off ourselves. The 'contact us' box on the website is a joke. Last year's and this year's my queries have been completely ignored despite stating that a reply will be made around '2 days'. No telephone number provided to contact - I had to google to find a telephone number. Despite the help desk at the Hub giving me a direct email address - this has also been ignored. The Hub was not in Edinburgh - why move it from last year's position? There were no additional stands and so the Hub could easily have been put in the central location again. Were all of the mile markers out? Not impressed with the medal this year - much prefered the ones in previous years. Spectators banned from the finish area so after everyone's hard work to actaully run the marathon it was kind of dead at the end. Having compared distances over Garmins etc it appears that it was more than 26.2 miles. Squeezing out onto a path after baggae etc was tight and not much fun trying to get to the reunion area - nobody was walking anywhere, it was gridlocked. The screen wasn't on when I looked at it - was it working at all? All the food and drink queues seemed to interlink, did anyone actually know what they were queueing for? Not a lot going on in the charity area, except massages. No toilet roll in the portaloos - did anyone use their number as an alternative? over a mile and a bit walk to the shuttle buses. Queuing for ages and no signs to show which bus to queue for. The weather - obviously this is the bit that GSI cannot help with.
In short: A gnome at home on hills! In full: Same old hills again at the Oakley 20 (wish that they would flatten as the years progress) but surprisingly do-able in costume and I somehow (and have no idea how) managed a PB! Hoodies once again with this years going to be put to good use for my gnome costume as and when I get around to making one. A big thank you to everyone that spent the Saturday setting up (shouldn't really include myself in that bit!) and those who spent Sunday standing outside providing real encouragement to the runners (the youngsters from the Scouts were great). Thanks Mark (bike marshal leading front runner) for notifying me that the lead runner was on his way (was in shock when the lead runners cheered me on!). Really nice support from participants too this year (those in particular have already been contacted). I struggled on the grassy finish (but always do in fields etc hence why I tentd to enter road events more than anything else). Was a little worried on the bridge on one lap as there was a blockage of traffic whereby both ends wanted to keep moving forward and drivers seemed more concerned for themselves than the runners (white van man, move over next time unless you'd like me to end up on your bonnet next time as I almost got squashed between the bridge and the side of van, not good when I already have balance and coordination difficulties). So glad that the weather was o.k. this year and Anglia Water had not started digging up the roads for repairs! Date of review: March 29, 2011
In short: As always I will be back again next year! In full: I absolutely love this event due to the organisation (and helpful organisers), route, marshalls, location etc etc. Good to see chip timing introduced this year! Always good to provide opportunities for all runners and walkers of all ages in various events. I always welcome the bottle bag, sadly not the beer (teetotal) but the plants enjoy it! See you again next time (shame the entries fo not open until later on in the year!) Date of review: January 3, 2011
In short: a very enjoyable race - I will be back next year! In full: The race itself was hard work (for me) but thoroughly enjoyable. Once the faster runners had sprinted off, it tuned out to be a nice sociable race (these are the once which I enjoy the most) and was able to converse with other runners as we ran along the canal, over the cattle grids etc. etc. I did misjudge a gate though and now have a bruise around my right hip area but my fault (no coordination!). The marshals had done a great job of marking out the hazard areas. As it was a friendly atmosphere I stayed for the prize giving, which was entertaining and the person giving out the awards wasn't bad either :-) Date of review: October 18, 2010
In short: I had forgotten about the never-ending hill! In full: Having done it last year I thought that I would attempt it again, albeit my finishing time would be slower than last year (medical thing and not age!) Marshals were again very friendly, two even greeted me as I walked up to the event. The women doing the group warm up was very enthusiastic and got many to do the full blown aerobic session, if I had taken part 100% in this I would have been dead before the start (literally!) Good to see the timing pens again, shame that some runners and walkers were optimistic in their times as some of those in front ended up walking / trottin after a few hundred metres and then was difficult to pass due to the numbers of runners and the narrow parts on the course. Good multi-terrain route with a very long hill which I had forgotten about but for me as I reached it, I was the one one attempting to run up it. Several cars were causing problems at one road which forced some of us runners to stop and wait for the drivers to decide what they were actually doing or going to do. No problems with the water stations The t-shirt, medal, banana and water were appreciated. I am glad that it was chip timed but it is a shame that some parts are very narrow as this does slow runners down and it is no fun trying to politely ask the person in front to kindly move if they have loud music blasting in their ears - I really do not want to be listening to heavy metal in the countryside thank you very much (may be I will have to push you out of the way next time!) All in all a good event for a worthwhile cause. Date of review: October 10, 2010
In short: Cold, wet, windy, tough course but I finished happy :-) In full: I do not thnk that the weather could have been any worse...soaked to the skin before the race started and I am one for. However due to such a good club I thought I had best turn up. A challenging course (I am pretty useless running in half marathons) but the marshals were thoroughly supportive en route. I was a little embarrassed to finish on the track with the majority already colling down (if they ould get any coller) and watching but the goodies made up for that. I must be mad but I'll be up for the Half again :-) Date of review: October 6, 2010
In short: Fantastic despite the mountains I keep on coming back! In full: I have to be the world's worst for hils - I hate every hill in sight except surprisingly enough the ones in this race which are more like mountains! This is the second year that I have ran in it and the second year (for some reason) I have not been too well (nothing to do with fear in this race but usually a bug I pick up in June). However, I have so far completed each race and if I felt the need I could have dropped out due to the loops but I haven't needed to as the race itself cheers me up no end. Organisation is great, route itself is great although very challenging and have always liked the t-shirts. It is definately not a PB course but a very good way to develop muscles in places that you never thought you had. Glad that it was dry underfoot as I dread to think what it would be like if it wasn't. I'll be back again next year :-) Date of review: June 20, 2010
In short: A great marathon in fantastic weather (must be the only one who runs better in the heat) In full: Happy that there was plenty of water and Lucozade at all water stations this year. The instructions (or actual method) given for putting the chip on our trainer was not very good, could easily slip off, so I actually put my through my laces not like the suggested 'paper clip' way. Unfortunately for one runner, their chip had come off around 4K. The weather was ideal for me but obviously many suffered with the heat. The signs for the finish area to collect baggage and buses was great to start with and then the baggage signs in the large green area were nowhere to be seen. Took a lot longer to get the shuttle bus back to Edinburgh this time as they were positioned quite a distance away (not great if you've just run a marathon but good cool down). Nice goodie bag and medal. The locals were very supportive again this year with their hoses, raisins and juice. The ambulance services did a great job this year. Date of review: May 24, 2010
In short: Good course but some parts of the organisation were not good at all In full: The course itself was fine except the couple of hills that reared their ugly heads towards the end. Mile markers need to be clear, definately could not see one of them. Majority of marshals warned runners of posts. Distances between water stations was good. Glad to have bottles and not cups and fortunately there were plenty of them. Was slow enough at the back! Before the race a few runners asked me if where I was standing was for the Half or 10K, I didn't really know as I just 'followed the crowd'. Therefore signage could have been better. The enquiry area could have been more defined as to 'entries on the day', 'collection / purchase of t-shirts' etc. I queued for a while only to find out, it was in fact the wrong queue. Signs to baggage area from outside Xcape could have been clearer. I had to ask several marshals. A couple didn't know and the other directed me to the start line. The queues for the baggage area and toilets (upstairs) were not clearly defined. A marshal could have been up there to guide. Spent a short time queuing to drop off the bag (please can runners put their numbers on the labels before getting to the front of the queue!) Spent about an hour queuing to pick bag up as there was only one door (which kept on closing) and a handful of people giving out the bags and despite giving our numbers we were still being asked to describe the colour, size and / or shape of it (may be a good idea to 'order' the bags into numerical order next time). Same medal for all runners except for the ribbon. No goody bag which was a shame. Results produced on the website are missing a lot of club runners club names and I definately know that quite a number added their club name when they signed up for the event. Xscape would have been the ideal venue to start the race. Having a large marquee outside in the parking area (near to the portaloos), council permits allowing, would have been a much better place for storing the baggage. Happy that the weather was good for the event.