Talkback: London Marathon

I can see where your coming from regarding the bottles (had a few near miss trips myself). However, what beat me was the congestion, far too many people overestimating (lying?) about their potential target time and ending up in starting pens in front, walking jogging and making me weave/sprint to get by sapping all my energy. 


  • I couldn't agree more Trev, it really was a struggle to get any rhythm going. I have estimated my time as 4 hours (came in just under) and was put in red pen 6. There was a guy walking after about 1 mile who must have been in a pen in front!!!
  • To be fair to the organisers it is up to the runners themselves to enter and estimated completion time when they apply to run the VLM. So they cannot be held account for runners ending up in pens higher up the field than they should be. The only way around this would be to insist runners can provide proof of recent times, although in doing this you would be unfairly punishing runners who were making the step up from shorter distances, so i guess there is no real solution to that problem.Additionally, slower runners were advised to move over to the sides if they were struggling to allow others past - again you could not police this.  With the bottles and gels on the course, once more runners are advised / requested to dispose of these to the side of the course, so again you cannot really target the organisers with that complaint.

    So to sum up, your complaints should be aimed at your fellow runners not the event organisers – I should state I do not have any involvement with the VLM and did run in it for the first time this year, but I think when complaining you need to be fair and  think what can the organisers of such an event actually police.

  • I thought I read in the stuff from VLM that they did not do the pens based on time, but mixed people up to try and reduce the congestion at the end.
  • you are right Trev i ran the Great manchester run last year i was in wave 2 the waves are sent in 20 minute intervals my 10k was a50 sub iwas passing loads after only 3k so people do tells porkies my expected marathon finish was3:50 i was in red pen 5 although i did start to struggle with cramp 2nd half of the run due to the heat so i think it probably was a bit of both but it would never put me off doing it again the vlm is not really the ideal marathon to acheiving a pb unless you are elite cat and near the front to be honest
  • RFJRFJ ✭✭✭

    For me it wasnt the congestion it was the act of one runner for me that ruined my day, he wasn't the only one though....

    his act was to take a bottle and then drink, then throw it at his side (in the middle of the road) straight under my foot.... and consequently fell and rolled my ankle..... thankfully I was still able to finiah, as adrenaline and sheer bloodymindness got me through along with some  strapping for St John guys.

    Go back to cups and you dont the the issue of falls / ankles...

    I heard stories on the day from friends in the crowd of bottles being thown overheads into the crowds... in one case into a disabled ladies lap....

    Some runners need to have a little more consideration for others.....

    Yes the congetion doesnt help either and for this reason and the bottles I will not be doing VLM again, instead find and support more local rural Marathons.....

  • 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. 

  • RFJRFJ ✭✭✭


    Garmins are not accurate enough around built up areas esp around Canary Wharf... most peoples came out at around 26.5 / 26.6, so do not worry about that.... yes you would have ran a bit further due to crowds ect... but take it that you ran a dammed good PB, well done.

  • As somebody who did walk occassionally, you always make the effort to move to the side.

    When I was running, rows of people across the road was deeply irritating and inconsiderate.    

  • Unfortunatley, some of us picked up injuries during the first few miles, and HAD to slow to a run/jog or jog/walk, or jog/limp just to get round.

    Comments about other people's speed, or lack of don't help if you don't KNOW why they are slow. Until I started limping visibly, there would have been no clue I was injured/struggling to anyone behind me. I trained for, aimed for, and really wanted to do 3h30, ended up 4h30+, due entirely to things beyond my control. I can run much faster than I did, put 3h45 on the form, eg slower than target time to be safe.

    It's a shame the council didn't repair the hole in the road, my foot hasn't recovered yet.

    Completely gutted with my performance, only held on for a finish as I Know how bad a dnf-at-big-event feels.

    entered ballot for next year, feels like I have unfinished business....

  • If you are in it for a fast time, don't do London. Bloody simple really! It's obvious that 36000 runners are going to cause congestion so why are you even trying for a time?

  • PhilK wrote (see)

    If you are in it for a fast time, don't do London. Bloody simple really! It's obvious that 36000 runners are going to cause congestion so why are you even trying for a time?

    Cos it's a race. And it's a fast course.The vast majority of people do any race as fast as they can.
  • Dr RobertDr Robert ✭✭✭

    If it's you against the clock, look for another race - London is not going to be your ultimate PB course. Abingdon is supposed to be the best PB marathon course in the UK, from what I hear. RW publishes an annual list of the best PB courses in the UK.

    For the vast majority of people (those not starting within 50m of the start line), congestion is going to be a problem and they will run slower than they possibly could.

    For myself, after six times I'm done with London now: trail races and half marathon are so much more pleasant! (Oh, I have to admit, I did do my PB at a London Marathon, but only by starting near the front!).

Sign In or Register to comment.