In short: A sunny Sunday marathon in my home town. What could be better? In full: Feel a bit sorry for the guy who wrote the first (damning) review; I wasn't quick enough to have similar problems!
The first half had more evil climbs than I had expected, but the second 13 miles of the run -- howling wind off the sea notwithstanding -- were a complete joy. It's my home town marathon, y'see, and being able to run through Westgate being cheered on by family (while stealing half of my niece's pint) made it a special day.
Great value. Water stations at regular intervals, plenty of carb gels, friendly marshalling, and a technical t-shirt at the end. All for £19! Fab.
This might be my last-ever marathon, but if it isn't and if the missus ever gives me permission to do another, I'd love to do this again. Date of review: September 2, 2013
In short: Already on my calendar for 2012 In full: Continues to be the best race I know. PLEASE don't change.
The size of the field is great, the accurate mile markers are admirable, the marshalling is enthusiastic and reliable, and the course is pure speed.
No complaints at all. Some people have moaned a little about the goodies you get at the end, but seriously, what would you rather have - a unique, technical t-shirt in a size you can select and a colour that isn't the usual flourescent yellow (plus a Mars bar, bottle of water, tea/coffee and biscuits, and the possibility of getting a 20-minute massage for a fiver), or the usual goodie bag: some carbo drink, cereal bar, dozens of leaflets advertising running products, plus *maybe* a random, cotton, one-size-fits-all t-shirt that you're never going to wear? For me it's an easy choice.
18-minute PB got me to the finish under 3:15, so I'm qualified for "Good For Age" (and, hence, two years of the London Marathon) and still a little giddy, but even if I didn't have that little bonus I'd always recommend Abingdon.
Do it at least once, for the atmosphere and to say "you did it": London Marathon. Do it once (and maybe *only* once), for the masochistic pain and foolishness of running 26.2 miles up a hill, then down a hill, up and down, up and down, until you eventually hit the finish line or the inside of an ambulance: Sussex Marathon. Do it Every Single Year: Abingdon Marathon, without a doubt.
Please don't change. Don't change a thing. Date of review: October 18, 2011
In short: Lordy, those hills. In full: This is a once-in-a-lifetime marathon.
And I mean that literally. Just as a lot of non-runners want to complete "a marathon" once in their life, regular marathon runners might consider doing this race once, for the experience. But just once - unless something's done about the course.
From what I've read and others have commented, it seems the organisers had real problems getting permission to run the course they wanted, so today's impossibly hilly 26.2 miles of agony was pretty much the only thing they could get away with holding.
Like others, I sincerely hope that the local community can wake up and realise the huge benefits a successful marathon would bring to their town. Hotels, B+Bs, tea shops, visitor attractions - all would share in the success. And let's face it, it's not like Britain's economy, including the tourism industry, is booming right now, is it? Every little bit helps. Take note, Battle.
The management of the event on the day was immaculate. The freebies for runners (food, drink et cetera), along with the fantastic design of the wonderfully chunky medal and technical t-shirt, were great. Marshalling was supportive and professional, making the most of a difficult situation - i.e. homicidal drivers spying gaps in the road and zooming to wherever it was that was important enough to risk the lives of both runners and marshalls. And the cameraderie was something I've never felt before at other half- or full-marathons. Great to see familiar faces as you go along the route, so if next year's event includes a back-and-forth portion I, for one, wouldn't mind.
It was great! If you leave aside the agonising, gut-wrenching, calf-destroying pain and don't expect to get anywhere close to your marathon PB. If they can get planning permission nice and early and promise to organise the 2012 marathon along a more reasonable route, I'd love to do it again. If not... well, at least I've done it this once.
The question below asks if it's "one of your all-time favourite races?" In some ways yes, in some ways no. Date of review: April 3, 2011
In short: Thinking of alternatives for 2011 In full: It's a quick course (or would be if they re-routed the stuff through the Lanes to a later part of the race), with great support from locals and pleasant scenery. So close to being perfect.
The organisation was just so bad.
- No mile markers that I could see, other than in maybe two places
- Chaotic routing meant running at half-pace for the first three miles while quicker, uncaring runners elbowed their way to the front
- *How* many times did we have to see the finish line before we finally got there?
- It costs a lot to enter. Collecting money for charity - fine. But a plastic bag with some water, a banana, medal and a t-shirt (which would have been covered in sponsors' logos anyway, so hardly expensive) would have been appreciated; it would also have helped prevent the awful pile-up at the finish line as racers, minds dulled by fatigue, rain and the intense cold, are barked at to keep on moving by the man on the tannoy while they stumble to get some water (on the right) or maybe a sports drink (on the left) and a banana (on the right), then a medal (random), not forgetting to get their tags removed (on the right) while wondering what happened to the white plastic goodie bags you'd get at every other event
- Runners should be more carefully cordoned off from spectators for longer. A lot of reviewers have called the scenes at the finish line a "free for all" - it was
Rather unwilling to contemplate the Tunbridge Wells Half next year because of the sheer awfulness of Spring Hill, but it's looking a better bet than Brighton 2011 right now. Date of review: February 23, 2010