VLM 2012 - Getting to the start line

Hi everyone,

 As a first time marathoner, I am beginning to get jitters about the VLM!

 I got the race guide etc through the post the other day. Whilst the general 'final race day info' was rather helpful, I couldn't find anything about what time I should actually be aiming to get to the start line!

 I'm thinking of travelling in from Brookmans Park in Hertfordshire, but am a bit worried that this may result in a bit of a 'marathon' before I even get to the start!

 Does anybody have any useful travel tips for the day?


  • WilkieWilkie ✭✭✭

    You'll need to allow time to drop your bag off, and to join the enormous queue for the toilet.

    On the other hand, as it's chip timed, it doesn't matter if you're a bit late!

    Check how long it takes the train from your home town into London, and how long from the London terminus to Greenwich (the tfl website will help with that bit).

  • Laura - I was wondering that too - so thanks for asking the question!

    I wonder how long before the race starts we need to be in the start crowd? 

  • Thanks Wilkie - although I have become quite obsessed about doing a good time so I don't want to be stressed about missing the start or starting further back than necessary!

     Max's Mum - good to know that I'm not the only one!

     I was wondering that too, is it enough to be in the vicinity about 1hr before, or do we need longer?

  • I don't know it doesnt say does it!

    just had a look on a couple of other forums, the general consensus is to get there about an hour before, about 8.45. 

    apparantly when you pick up your number at the expo you get told what 'pen' you are in (each colour is devided into 'pens') but i think averyone exept elite runners start at the same time? 

    so i will be planning to get to greenwich between 8.30 and 8.45 - hopefully that will be enough! 

  • Been told the luggage trucks close at 9.20am if it helps. Im aiming to get there for 8.15am to  relax, soak up atmosphere and take my time getting ready.
  • the longer I stand around, the more nervous I will get!

    luckily hubby is coming along to be bag holder - so hopefully i won't need the bag drop

  • WilkieWilkie ✭✭✭

    I'd suggest you use the bag drop.

    When you finish, your bag will be right there, for collection, and you can put fresh clothes on.

    If your husband has difficulty getting to the finish (as well he might, the underground system is a complete nightmare on marathon day), then you won't be hanging around getting cold waiting for your stuff.

    I'd also suggest arranging a meeting place a bit of a distance from the actual finish, too. 

    I've met my OH in Trafalgar square the last couple of times.  It's much easier to move around there, not nearly so crowded.  The area set aside for meeting up with people was completely impossible to move in.

  • thanks for the advice Wilkie, i will consider that - just thought there would be huge queues to drop off and pick up?
  • WilkieWilkie ✭✭✭

    No - the bag drop/collection is very, very efficient. 

    When you come through the finish, you look for the truck with the relevant number range, and someone will hand you your bag.

  • thanks! - its a good idea then, I will let hubby know about the finish area pandemonium too!
  • E mmyE mmy ✭✭✭
    Thanks for that suggestion Wilkie - i've been thinking about the bag drop off. How far is it to walk from the end to Trafalgar Sq? (with the crowds).
  • SunluvvaSunluvva ✭✭✭
    As well as the actual train journey times don't forget to add in 20 mins to walk from the station - don't worry you can't get lost, just follow the crowds. It's unlikely you'll get nervous waiting around either - the party starts before the race, lots of music and warm up sessions going on.

    Sometimes they don't let anyone other than runners into the park either so hubby might not be able to get in, much better to use the bag drop, stick your bin liner/top on if it's chilly then join the queue for the loos
  • Yes the bag drop is the best idea. I've had my bag handed to me as I've approached the wagons at the other end. No waiting at all !
  • Just spotted this thread (as if I haven't read enough about VLM!!) - very useful & helpful advise - thanks all! Interesting that the finish area is mad - but I'll be very slow so I guess the crowds might have thinned out by then???
  • So is the general consensus that we should be aiming to get to the start at least an hour before kick off?

     Re the "queue for the loos"...I note that the magazine says there is enough toilets at the start line...is this truly the case?!

  • There are never enough toilets at the start of any big race.  There would only be enough if there was one portaloo for every runner image

    Queues weren't too bad last year.  I had to wait about 10 mins for wee #1 an hour before and then about 15 for wee #2 just before heading into the pens.  Plenty of paper when I went but take some tissues just in case.

    They were not letting anyone other than runners into the Blackheath start last year but if you went into the back pens then that was outwith the main area fencing so you could hand stuff over the barrier.  Most people take an old fleece or top and just leave it at the start.  They used to collect them for charity shops not sure if they still do.  That's where mine came from anyway.

    The baggage trucks were superb last year and as I walked to the truck at the end ... sorry, staggered ... a smiley lady already had mine waiting for me.  I was one of the slow ones, guess they wanted to get home!

    There is a limit to where you can actually sit down in the finish area and it can get a bit congested so fix a meeting point as you will be in no mood to faff about looking for people.  It took me 10 mins to get out and walk to T Square.  I was a tad disorientated and dehydrated so couldn't remember how to work my phone to text and couldn't remember where Chandos was.  If I had been meeting somebody anywhere a bit vague I'd have been in tears or screaming.

  • WilkieWilkie ✭✭✭
    Laura Holmes 7 wrote (see)

     Re the "queue for the loos"...I note that the magazine says there is enough toilets at the start line...is this truly the case?!

    The people who wrote that have clearly not actually been there and seen the queues. 

    They should be made to queue up, and then write about how many toilets there are.

  • SunluvvaSunluvva ✭✭✭
    I second that Wilkie!
  • Oh well, at least queuing gives you something to do while waiting I suppose!

     I have changed my plans and will now be staying with my friend who lives 20 mins from Greenwich DLR. Hopefully this'll make my whole morning a lot less stressful.

    I think I must be deeply worried about the start. Had a dream last night in which I missed the start (I think it was more like a nightmare).

  • Hi Laura - I had that dream this morning and have heard from a few other runners subsequently, multiple alarms will be set!!

  • Agree about the bag collection. It's a joy to behold, you'll never see a manual process better organised in your entire life, you don't want to miss it by not using it image

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