Do you watch Top Gear? I do. Well, I did. The Clarkson, Hamster and May Top Gear on the BBC before Jezza got all punchy and had to go. It is a fun show. I do have a less tenuous link to the show, in that, when I was in Barbados I saw Quentin Wilson’s wife breastfeeding on the table next to us at Olives restaurant. (Superb restaurant BTW, but unfortunately no longer in business). But I guess this is turning into a bit of a tangent, so I shall get back on track.
One of my favourite segments of the show is the Stig Lap in the fancy sports car, and the Star in the Moderately Priced Car. I like comparing and contrasting and so decided to add a similar section in my marathon reviews.
So I thought I would introduce the concept here, and tell you about my thinking. And then, when it appears in a few weeks in the Lucerne/Swiss City marathon review, it won’t come as much of a surprise. I know how much you hate surprises.
And so here is the table, sorted by overall score, but with a few caveats. The main caveat being – this is my opinion! Mine! Based on ME, that is I, the person who ran the race, running the race, when I ran the race. MY opinion. You may have a different opinion, which you are entitled to, at least until the alien overlords arrive and enslave mankind, and that is fine. My opinion is based on my experience of the race, when I ran it. Get it? Mine.
Now something I wanted to do was create a number of criteria that I could score the marathon on, rather than the simple and personal Overall Personal Experience score. So I thought about scoring, out of 5, the following:
- Overall Personal Enjoyment (now I am a little weird, I may like different things to you. This is my enjoyment factor, out of 5)
- Cost/Value for money. The entry fee is listed, the fee that I paid anyway, and well, you need to think about what you get for the cost. If you paid £50 and didn’t get a goody bag, or tee, the medal is average and there was only water at the water stops, and in cups at that, would you be happy? Well, that is a different category, the one before. Yes, you may still have loved it, but it would not be good value for money.
- Local support. Did they come out in droves? Did they offer orange segments, and jelly babies, cheer you on? Did you get shouts of “keep running, random stranger?”
- Communication. From the RD. Before and after, on twitter, in email, via mailshots, in the race booklet, on the website. The score here needs to take into consideration the pre and post race communication. Normally you can’t shut the fecker up before the race, and after, when you are trying to find out about photos, or your time, or medals that went missing, or anything else, they ghost you.
- Route. Now, again. You could have paid a low fee, there could be good support, but if the route sucks balls, then you won’t enjoy the race. Unless you like long there and backs through a desolate industrial estate. Also, it could go the other way, and the route could be amazing. Picturesque scenery Up The Wazoo, and you are happy to forgo the goody bag, tee, support of the locals, and any kind of race atmosphere for the sake of staring teary eyed into the vista.
- Medal. Obvs. But now we are talking marathon medals, we don’t want that bargain bucket bullshit we get at 10Ks. We want something to be proud of. This isn’t the Southend Rudolph Ten Miler for goodness sake.
- Race tee. Not the one you can buy at the expo for £30. No, sir. This is the race tee. If you are paying upwards of £40 for a race I believe you should get one, and I think it should be better than a cotton effort with the race name on it too.
- Goody Bag. Not always apparent, but the same logic as above. If you are paying for this, you should get something more out of it – at least a bag of mini cheddars and a can of Carling.
- Facilities – Race HQ, Bag drop, Toilets at the start and on the route. This is pretty fundamental. A bad bag drop (Beachy Head) or a worse post race bag collection (Manchester) can sour the day. Lack of loos can. There were none at Hull I don’t think. Not sure I saw too many at Beachy too. The clusterfuck that was Brighton and Manchester race villages, with all the dog on string, ma, pa and grandma families getting in the way of runners who had just finished a race, that kills me.
- In race nutrition. Water? Just water? No sir. Even if the tables are 5K apart. JBs? Gels? Lucozade? How about oranges? Flapjacks? Bananas. Some weird apple tea? I am not asking for a portable rotisserie roasting chickens by the flock, but some sort of sugary offering at least.
- I also decided to have a negative column, this being taken off the total of all the other categories added together. These are factors I hated about the race, or hated enough to mention and score it down on.
So…. Here it is, and to be honest I am a little surprised. I am most surprised to see three of my favourite overseas marathons mid table. But then, if there is no goody bag or free race tee you are already down 10 points. Like I said though, the first column is how much I enjoyed the race and may, or may not, definitely not in some cases, be reflected in my final mark.
TBH I wasn’t expecting London to be there when I started this exercise. Let’s see if the other 7 marathons and counting I have booked can dislodge it from it’s place at the top of the tree.