In short: Sadly my last Brighton marathon In full: This was my 6th Brighton marathon, and I'm afraid that it'll be my last. I've got so much affection for this event and it's upsetting that it now feels as though the organisers have started treating runners as fools and only think about how they can wring more money from them, rather than enhance the race experience.
From the reasons behind the Expo ("it's to reduce carbon footprint".... WHAT?!) to the dreadful communication (email on Saturday morning telling runners that bag size was reduced due to 'security' - even though larger bags were also given out), to the terrible funnelling after the race, cramming hundreds of tired, unwell runners into a holding pen before pushing them through onto the "beach village" where they can - yep - spend more money.
Lack of toilets at the beginning, muddy corrals, poor collaboration with train companies... you might expect this at a small local club run - but not at "the 2nd largest marathon in the UK" as we were frequently told - when the price is considerably more than London.
Sorry Brighton. I feel bad writing this because I love the town, I love the atmosphere of the race, and the course is mostly good - but while you continue to view runners as a commercial enterprise, I won't be back. Date of review: April 23, 2016
In short: Mostly good, few niggles In full: My first time running this, and overall I did enjoy it.
The organisation was pretty seamless - no queues anywhere and lots of parking. The Marshals were friendly and supportive. Course is a double loop, which seemed to make things quicker by breaking each 10 in half, and had a few bills to contend with but nothing too brutal. It's a nice course, without being particularly spectacular. Pleasant medal.
Couple of things for improvement is the total inaccuracy of the mile markers - given that most comments last year referred to this, I'm a bit surprised it was an issue again. I also measured the course overall as being 19.90 rather than 20. Not a huge deal, but I did run on for a while longer to be sure - I don't think I was the only one!
Personally I think Cranleigh 21 represents better value and has a bit more charm about the route, but I wouldn't rule out the Spitfire again. Date of review: March 13, 2016
In short: OK, room for improvement In full: On the positive side: a pleasant course, well-marshalled (thanks guys!), reasonably flat (though quite not the pancake I expected!), and pretty much traffic free. So far, so good.
I have two gripes, which shouldn't be too difficult to resolve...
1) pre-race organisation was a bit chaotic. The queue for numbers should have been far better managed. Putting sponsors/local sports businesses into the sports hall while people are queueing just cramped the available space and didn't help anyone. The fact that the start of the race had to be delayed because people were still queuing for numbers/toilets is an unfortunate symptom of underestimating how many people will converge at once on a small space.
2) Mile markers were inaccurate! The total distance was spot-on - but each mile marker from 1 - 12 was slightly ahead of my watch; as I passed 12 my watch read 11.60 miles. However, from 12 - 13.1 it made up the distance and measured out at 1.5 miles. That was a bit frustrating.
All in all - not bad, and full of good intent - but room for improvement. Will give it another go. Date of review: February 15, 2015
In short: Undulating? Ha! In full: I probably underestimated this course - described as "undulating", it's positively "hilly". This, combined with the sticky ground, did make it tough going in places. If you like that sort of thing, you'll love it. If you're hoping for a fast time, this probably isn't for you.
It was well organised, with nice views and scenery. Not much of a goodie bag at the end but a nice Sunday morning yomp all the same. Date of review: February 11, 2015
In short: Enjoyable, pleasant run In full: I was a bit surprised at the relatively small size of the crowd at this race - i was expecting a bigger turnout than the 200 or so. I felt it lacked a bit of atmosphere, though the organisers were very helpful and pleasant. I also hoped that the course might somehow start/finish inside Craven Cottage stadium itself, but that was obviously not possible.
Nonetheless, it was a decent race on a very flat route with nice views over the Thames for most of it. A couple of miles along the towpath didn't pose much of a barrier, despite the recent wet weather.
An immediate chipped time, photograph, and t-shirt - all in all, a pleasant Sunday morning run. Date of review: February 11, 2015
In short: Well-organised, no fuss - good work In full: An enjoyable, very flat 10k. Two loops around lovely Bushy Park. Plenty of parking, toilets seemed fine, cheerful and helpful marshals, well-signposted, decent medal and snacks. No grumbles at all, got a PB, will do it again. Date of review: January 18, 2015
In short: Great way to start the year In full: A wonderfully enjoyable and silly race. Fancy dress is compulsory and the course is so brutal that any remaining prospect of taking it seriously goes out the window. Instead a few hundred mildly hungover cheery souls yomp around some of Surrey's loveliest scenery, cheer each other on and get a super bag of goodies at the end. Perfect start to 2015. Date of review: January 18, 2015
In short: Good way to start the weekend In full: It's a nice flat quiet course, and on a cold bright morning it's very scenic. The marshals are cheerful and helpful. Couple of minor points - my garmin measured 10.30 miles, which seemed quite a big in accuracy over the distance - though I didn't hear anyone else mention it, so maybe just me. Also the toilets were still locked 5 mins before the gun, which the organisers were doing their best to resolve, but it made for a bit of a rush. Overall though, enjoyed it and would recommend. Date of review: March 10, 2014
In short: Fantastic value - can't fault it In full: This is an ideal marathon build-up, and the past couple of years have seen glorious spring mornings and high spirits. Not so this year, as the the bitter big freeze brought temperatures down and a chill to the bones.
It didn’t bring spirits down however, and it was only this year that I fully appreciated just how many kind organisers and volunteers gave up their Sunday to stand in the freezing cold to marshal and give out refreshments – always smiling and always encouraging.
Let’s remind ourselves – this race costs £12. That’s TWELVE QUID. You get 21 pretty challenging miles for that (or 15 if you prefer), great organisation, and a really nice friendly atmosphere. Unmissable.
In short: Tough - but muddy good fun In full: I found this a really tough and enjoyable half - I soon realised that the limit of my ambitions was to complete it in one piece!
The majority of the course is off road, and with the wet weather it made for slippery going. The parts that are on the road are mostly uphill (or so it seemed!), and gives the legs a fantastic workout as a result.
A couple of tweaks to improve for next year would be not having to walk so far to the start of the race, and slightly better marking in places.
But neither of these detracted from the overall enjoyment and it's clear that the organisers really put a lot of enthusiasm and passion into organising this - they also sent lots of communication in the build up which was a nice touch and so a big thank you to them. Date of review: May 6, 2012