Helpful suggestions for the London organisers

I'm puzzled that the forum hasn't been deluged with moans about getting a cotton t-shirt in the bag, but perhaps I've missed it.  I like cotton t-shirts myself as the drip-dry ones are unpleasant to wear, but where have all the nylon fans gone?

So here's a list of helpful feedback on this year's organisation:

1. The clock on the red start broke and they set us off late.  That was oddly poor and a bit confusing, although only really for those of us right at the front who were hoping to make use of the gun-time clocks.

2. As usual, quite a few of the balloon/clock mile posts were a good few yards away from the actual marking on the road, enough to make timing quite difficult.  This happens every year and is genuinely annoying.

3. They gave my bag to another runner, who then didn't bring it back.  And sitting in the lost luggage, it was startling to see how many bags went missing - I certainly won't be leaving any valuables with them again.  They looked after me well and kept me warm, but shouldn't have lost it, and should maybe include a number to call if people find they've been given the wrong one.

4.  Cherry Lucozade - no no no.

5. I think it would be helpful to remind runners that religiously sticking to the blue line and barging people out of the way to do so is unhelpful.  Perhaps publish some statistics to nail the stupid myth that it really makes much difference.  My reckoning is that you'd struggle to really add more than 50 yards to your overall distance by taking every corner wide.  At one point I was helping a guy who'd fallen from exhaustion, and had some idiot telling me to get him off the blue line.

6. The pre-race announcer banter is really inane.  Would it be too much to ask to at least have a little sensible discussion about pacing or strategy as well as the "ooh look here's a guy running dressed as a wookie"?  Maybe a quick interview with someone who knows what they're talking about?

Another enjoyable, well-marshalled race, but having done the Barcelona one recently, London is a long way from being flawless, even if it clearly has issues to deal with that Barca doesn't (like twice as many runners, narrower roads and a finish that's several miles from the start). 

Comments

  • Tmap wrote (see)
    2. As usual, quite a few of the balloon/clock mile posts were a good few yards away from the actual marking on the road, enough to make timing quite difficult.  This happens every year and is genuinely annoying.

    I'd say this was my biggest complaint. First London for me so I didn't realise what a big problem it was, but my splits were all over the place and definitely contributed to some pacing errors.

    Taping off half the road in Docklands was also a major headache, by the time I was there the course was pretty crowded and it's not ideal to narrow the course at precisely the point where half the field will be flagging and the other half will be trying to get around them. 

  • When you start feeling like Victor Meldrew at the VLM it's time to find other marathons to run. That's why I abandoned London 2 years ago and now find Brighton marathon much more appealing

  • I think the message that people walking should move to the side of the road should be rammed home over and over again, and not just in the magazine.  I was forced to walk a fair bit yesterday and always did so at the side.  And yet time and again, when running, I found people walking in the middle of the road, sometimes three abreast. 

     Bah!

     Very well organised otherwise though. 

  • Considering the huge numbers of people, I though the event was extremely well organised. I was particularly impressed with the water every mile. Very welcome on a hot day. I found nothing at all to complain about.

  • Wobbled wrote (see)
    Tmap wrote (see)
    2. As usual, quite a few of the balloon/clock mile posts were a good few yards away from the actual marking on the road, enough to make timing quite difficult.  This happens every year and is genuinely annoying.

    I'd say this was my biggest complaint. First London for me so I didn't realise what a big problem it was, but my splits were all over the place and definitely contributed to some pacing errors.

    I would imagine this is partly because in some cases it's impractical to build the posts & arch right where the line is (there's a tree there, or something) and possibly also because they have to start building the things before the bloke comes along with his measuring stick and his blue paint.  With the slight course changes quite a few of the markers weren't where they normally are anyway.
  • I also found the pre-race announcer massively annoying. His jokes were extremely unfunny, and basically 144 variations of "a marathon, that's far, I get tired just driving that far".

    I'm not sure of a solution, but the bag collection for fast GFA was nearly as difficult as the race itself. They give everyone the same range of numbers but nearly everyone in this group finished within 30 min. of each other, so while all the other trucks had 1-2 people in front, ours had 50-100, and some people were being stupidly aggressive.
  • Tmap wrote (see)
    2. As usual, quite a few of the balloon/clock mile posts were a good few yards away from the actual marking on the road, enough to make timing quite difficult.  This happens every year and is genuinely annoying.
    The reason is its sometimes impossible to place the mile posts to the actual mile.
    Some mile posts cannot fit because of lamposts and other things. I would suggest put
    painted mile markers on the road just the same as the blue line which will help.
    Tmap wrote (see)
    4.  Cherry Lucozade - no no no.
    yes yes yes. Fed up of orange Lucozade. Just too sharp when you have to drink the stuff.
    Tmap wrote (see)
    5. I think it would be helpful to remind runners that religiously sticking to the blue line and barging people out of the way to do so is unhelpful.  Perhaps publish some statistics to nail the stupid myth that it really makes much difference.  My reckoning is that you'd struggle to really add more than 50 yards to your overall distance by taking every corner wide.  At one point I was helping a guy who'd fallen from exhaustion, and had some idiot telling me to get him off the blue line.
    So many want to stick to the blue line as its the accurate measured route for the marathon.
    It doesn't help if so many follow that which makes it too congested. Plus it doesn't make
    a difference if you run on the left or the right. That blue line is mainly targeted for the elite.
    Not the fun and charity runner.

    Would like to see a lane on one side for anyone walking. Especially during the 2nd half.
    Then again, would like to see a lane for the ipod runners. Nice they are. But trying to pass
    them is like trying to pass an elephant.

    One thing that was so annoying was the spectators. Yes they are great. But there were
    parts that the spectators were taking the road up which were for runners. That narrowed
    the room for runners which becomes congested. Would like to see more barriers on
    the route. Especially narrow roads and residential parts.
  • I can see the point about not knowing precisely where the mile markers should be, but not sure I really buy it.  A couple of them were a good 10 seconds away from the balloons.  Should at least have some moveable marker that's easier to spot than a little dark blue chalk mark.

    My other complaints are more directed at other runners than at the organisers; as I say, it remains a hugely impressive undertaking.

    The only other good point raised elsewhere is the scrum that arises from having a baggage lorry dedicated to Fast GFA runners, with the inevitable result that most of those runners all finish at roughly the same time and all want their bags.

  • Tmap wrote (see)
    5. I think it would be helpful to remind runners that religiously sticking to the blue line and barging people out of the way to do so is unhelpful.  Perhaps publish some statistics to nail the stupid myth that it really makes much difference.  My reckoning is that you'd struggle to really add more than 50 yards to your overall distance by taking every corner wide.  At one point I was helping a guy who'd fallen from exhaustion, and had some idiot telling me to get him off the blue line.
    If you took every corner wide you'd do far more than 50 yards extra. Look at a 400m track and see how far lane 8 starts ahead of lane 1, and that's over less than 1% of the marathon distance. Still no excuse for being impolite to other runners however.
  • Yes BOTF, but if you ran a marathon on a track you'd take over 200 bends of 180 degrees each.  London has about 20 that are anywhere near that, and even then only two or three of them really double back on themselves.

    So if you ran in the equivalent of lane 4 of a track (which is a fair way out), you'd add about 10 metres for each bend.  So even assuming you ran 20 one-eighty degree bends in the VLM, you'd add about 200 metres to your distance.  In reality it's far less than that.

  • It's ROAD RACING-Why do people moan that mass participation marathons have congestion problems and elements of the road come into play? If you want track conditions then race on the track. I think considering what it is(basically a carnival) the organisers do a great job.

  • North London Runner - my point is the same as yours really, which is that runners are causing problems by trying to follow an optimum line when they're running a crowded race.

    I also agree with you that the organisers do a great job, and indeed say so above.

  • LS21LS21 ✭✭✭
    Tmap wrote (see)

    6. The pre-race announcer banter is really inane.  Would it be too much to ask to at least have a little sensible discussion about pacing or strategy as well as the "ooh look here's a guy running dressed as a wookie"?  Maybe a quick interview with someone who knows what they're talking about?

    No chance there Tmap - he 'interviewed' me remember!! image  Bet he wishes he hadn't though. He looked totally perplexed when I said I was running for 'myself' and that I was there 'to race it'!

    Oh and on the Blue Line thing. Driving back from the Canary Wharf area to my hotel Sat night I saw them marking out the road with the blue paint. All I'll say is it wasn't being put down in a very careful or scientific manner - especially as they were on the wrong side of the road on a blind bend with very little prior warning for oncoming motorists. It was a case of 'whack a bit just there, that'll do' every 5 yards or so. Point being I don't think it IS that massively important to stick to the line at all times, cos it's by no means 100% accurate.
  • Do we really need a blue line? No blue line problem solvedimage
  • Firstly, I'd like to say I thought it was an amazing event, an incredible experience, the crowd support was awesome and full marks to the organisers, so not being Victor Meldrew-ish, just a couple of small points that could have made it better for me personally.

    1. Ban iPods. They're banned in many smaller events so why not in the most congested event of all? In the early stages when congestion was at its worst, pretty much every time I was cut up it was by someone wearing headphones who was completely oblivious to my presence. Still, at least they weren't as bad as the bloke I nearly ran into the back of on Tower Bridge because he had practically stopped in the middle of it to film himself on his iPhone. Grrrr!

    2. Don't force it home in the pre-race magazine how wrong it is to pour bottled water over your head and deprive slower runners of it because I'm the sort of person who pays attention to these things. By halfway I was beginning to struggle with the heat, feeling really shivery, and it wasn't until a few miles later when I decided to tip a full bottle over me every mile that I started to feel vaguely human again. If I'd had stuck to the advice I'm pretty certain I wouldn't have reached the finish without the help of the St John Ambulance! Either provide more water so there's absolutely no chance of running out, or have more showers, people with wet sponges, whatever.

    3. Agree about the mile markers being out of place - threw my splits totally out and made it hard to judge an even pace.

    4. Oh, and also agree about the pre-race announcer. He really was the last thing you needed when you're trying to get in the zone!

    Apart from that, a wonderful event and one I'm really glad I've experienced.

  • Cotton t-shirts are fine, but come on how many female runners are the width of a single bed, which is the size of my t-shirt and I kid you not!  It caused much hilarity at the meet-up point afterwards.  It's a good job I don't do these things for what's in the goody bag!
  • PhilPubPhilPub ✭✭✭
    LS21 wrote (see)

    Oh and on the Blue Line thing. Driving back from the Canary Wharf area to my hotel Sat night I saw them marking out the road with the blue paint. All I'll say is it wasn't being put down in a very careful or scientific manner - especially as they were on the wrong side of the road on a blind bend with very little prior warning for oncoming motorists. It was a case of 'whack a bit just there, that'll do' every 5 yards or so. Point being I don't think it IS that massively important to stick to the line at all times, cos it's by no means 100% accurate.


    This is interesting.  I've often wondered (sad, I know!) how accurate they can practically make this "shortest route possible" blue line.  The theoretical shortest possible path would be marked out by a piece of string stretched out so that it was cutting the shortest point distance from one corner to the next, and therefore would be up against the kerb at the bend on one side or the other.  This is clearly not the case in practice.  I doubt whether they are marking out the blue line with surveyor-type accuracy (clearly not from your observations) so I agree it's probably futile trying to follow the line anyway.  As long as you're not swaying from one side of the road to the other and can take each bend relatively close to the inside, you're not gonna lose an awful lot of distance.

    The only thing I'd like to see changed on race day is for the Red Lion to start serving Fuller's ESB on tap.  Much nicer than the bottles!  image

  • Mr BoatMr Boat ✭✭✭
    PP: I'd also like to see the blue line extended up to the RL bar...some kind of fast track service for anyone who's finished the race. Oh and a few cushions scattered around on the pavement would be nice.
  • PhilPubPhilPub ✭✭✭
    ...and a mattress for MtR!!
  • I like that, MrB - top suggestion! image

    It would be quite nice if they could supply a fleet of golf buggies as well to transport us along said blue line from finish to RL.

  • Curly45Curly45 ✭✭✭
    We bought our own pillow...next year I can supply more for a small fee image
  • My only real gripe is the need to waste half a day trekking across London to the expo. I can see why they do it, as it must bring in a welcome amount of cash for the organisers, but it adds a lot of stress just when you don't need it. I'd rather be putting my feet up and watching Chariots of Fire.

    As for the T-shirt, my wife wears it as a night dress, so it isn't too bad. Maybe it's designed to fit the guy in the rhino suit? She also loves the Jelly Snakes in the goodie bag, so I really hope they keep those.

    Apart from that, the marshals are really friendly, especially at the start and finish lines, the support is unbeatable, and the atmosphere is fantastic.
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