I was both hugely impressed and slightly disappointed by the organisation of my first London (second ever) Marathon. I completed the Edinburgh Marathon in 2010 and was disgusted by the lack of organisation - no signposts at the start, nowhere near enough water stations, a worrying shortage of St John's Ambulance staff and a chaotic finishing area.
I am pleased to say London 2011 wasn't afflicted by any of these problems - there was plenty of water, the St John's Ambulance staff were both abundant and pro-active and although it was a long trek from the finish line to the meet and greet zone, it was logically laid out and effectively marshalled. And although I didn't personally witness the pedestrian crossing points in acton, my family members among the spectators marvelled at the effectiveness! Similarly, all the police officers and marshals I encountered were professional, encouraging and empathetic.
However, I found the course extremely congested and found myself becoming increasingly frustrated as the occasional walker at mile 5 became one of a hoard at mile 10. I feel a huge proportion of the participants responsible for my frustration were fundraisers rather than runners. It is admirable that people endure this physical challenge to raise money for worthy causes but it is more admirable when these individuals make the lifestyle changes and follow the rigorous training regime required to do justice to a marathon race number.
It is the responsibility of participants to judge whether they truly are fit enough to undertake the challenge that is a marathon and to move over to the side of the course should injury or illness slow them down, but I also think the organisers need to take greater action to enforce these recommendations. I'd like to see marshals taking pro-active measures to move slower runners and walkers over to the side but mostly, I'd like to see the field cut by a few thousand. Whilst I acknowledge this is unlikely and would cause disappointment for those who miss out and also reduce the amount of money raised for charity, I think it would vastly improve the race experience for RUNNERS looking to achieve a RUNNING goal. I
I achieved a PB of 3:51, knocking four minutes off my previous time, so I realise it's churlish to be disappointed. However, according to my GPS, I also ran 26.77 miles. That extra half a mile probably added 4, 5 or even 6 minutes to my time, whilst the numerous occasions when I had to slow down before darting between slower runners and walkers will have also taken it's toll on my time.
However, having said all of this, the magical feeling of being cheered over Tower Bridge and along Embankment, Birdcage Walk and the Mall is something I'll never forget.
Posted: 29/04/2011 at 19:25