In short: A Few Hills - Multiplied by 17 In full: We (a few from our running club) entered this race because of its promise on the website. “A fast course, great atmosphere with real personal best potential” were the kinds of words I had read on the emails and website in the run up to the race.
I just felt rather duped by it all on the day. The course is actually fairly hilly. Obviously, what goes up must come down, but the ups in places were horrific. There was one steep hill and, from memory, two other long gradual climbs. If that was it, just those hills once during the race, you’d probably remember the steeper one and think the course was ok, save for the odd climb. However, when you’re doing 17 laps around the same circuit, you came to dread the inevitable climbs. It made the course painfully slow and nothing like a PB circuit. Only 11 people finished under 3 hours.
As for the other features, such as the atmosphere etc. There wasn't really one to talk of. The runners were grinding out the miles with no spectators at all save for the long uphill section leading to the start/finish line. Even there, you were met by 50 or so spectators who seemed as bored as the runners. The race director/announcer only started whipping up enthusiasm when people were two or three laps from the end. I thought he could have provided encouragement a lot earlier on.
All in all, this was an experience that I doubt many would want to replicate. I thought the organisation of the race was excellent and that the goody bag etc was carefully put together. I just think that if you’re going to run a marathon, 17 laps of up and down is not the way to do it. Some might see it as a challenge. I’d see it was a waste of a Saturday. I've felt more invigorated and self-determined during a training run.
In short: Great Race / Event (Aside from Baggage-gate) In full: This was my second Mara (Lpool Oct 2011 being my first). Aside from the delayed start last Oct, the organisation for that Mara was sensational - which may have blurred my expectations for organisation.
However, reading some people's stories on this thread is incredibly disheartening, especially those first timers. I feel for them the most.
All in all though, I really do feel that the thread as whole and the review section on this site has suffered something of a knee-jerk reaction. That is clear because the tone has dramatically changed from Sunday through to today.
I completely agree that the baggage situation was a nightmare - no excuses. I am one of the competitors waiting for it to be delivered in the post. However, that aside, I can't complain about the organisation too much. All of the other real complaints seem to stem, or be fuelled by, the horrific weather conditions, which no organiser can control and aside from a few extra tents (which there wasn't a great amount of room for) there isn't a great deal they could have done to make it more pleasant.
Dunham "Messy" would have been bloody glorious to run through in decent weather and the bottlenecking was only due to the quagmires. Again, not Xtra Mile Events fault really.
I agree that the underpass was a little odd and I did nearly pop my hip twisting and turning around that section as I was pushing hard for my sub 3.30. But that aside, I really think the course was fine and some parts of it offered fantastic support and gradient to run a quick time (again, save for the weather).
I'm not having a go at anyone who has complained on here. We all feel slightly aggrieved by the organisation but I think now we've all taken a deep breath, we can see it for what it was - a complete wash out. In some respects I feel for the organisers.
I want to end on a high, so many many congratulations to all those who got to the start line, got to 10 miles, 13 miles, 20 miles or to the bitter end. I think anyone who started that race and it was their first deserve bigger, gold medals! Well done.
Finally, to those that helped on the day, the marshals, the volunteers, the local resident, the supporter or family member - you made that day bearable for everyone - from first to last place, your clapping, cheering and assistance from the off was phenomenal (far better than Lpool).
With better weather (and baggage addressed), this event would be rightly scoring in the 90% mark. Let's give the organisers a shot a redemption. This event has incredible potential for all involved.
Just my POV. Well done again everyone!
Dan (3:29.26...a close call). Date of review: May 1, 2012