My previous post explains just how difficult it can be getting a place in the London marathon. I have certainly found this the case, so for my second marathon I ventured 50 miles away to Milton Keynes, a new town in Buckinghamshire famous for having an elaborate grid road system (wtf?), Europe’s largest indoor ski slope and, increasingly, an interesting marathon alternative for London rejectees.
The most notable feature of the race is that it started and finished at Stadium MK helping to give that big event atmosphere. On approaching the finish I heard other runners talking about the final 400m in the stadium itself being a “no walking” zone so to save those jelly legs (and my under-trained legs really were struggling at this point) for fear of being called out by the race announcer. I needn’t have worried as the race atmosphere was great throughout.
My race was a mixed success, I was still very inexperienced at the distance and my training had been marred by injury but I crossed the line in 5hrs 22. It was slow by many standards but it was more than 20 minutes faster than my first marathon. I suffered in the heat and missed the crowds I had experienced in London. I’m glad I’ve tried the course but have no immediate urges to head back to the event.
So here are a few thoughts on the marathon at Milton Keynes:
The scenery is great – varied terrain is high on my list of factors that make for an enjoyable race and I was pleasantly surprised by Milton Keynes. It never sounds glamourous when you’re telling your friends about doing a marathon in….. duh duh duuuuhhhh: Milton Keynes, but hold judgement until you’ve seen the course. The early stages are run through the town itself with good support from the residents but soon the race takes you to more rural settings. We ran through beautiful villages and woodland and lapped Willen Lake a local beauty spot popular for recreational activities. The course was pleasant, really pleasant, surprisingly so, there were hardly any roundabouts and crucially it is a flat one so PB chasers will be happy here.
Beware the weather – this is Britain so weather-wise we’ve got no chance of calling it accurately, but bear in mind this race is run later in the season that the likes of London and Manchester and its southerly location means the chances are it will be hotter than what you’ve trained in. When I ran in 2013 the temperatures really did spike and big parts of the course on unshaded tarmac which only exasperated the situation.
You will get value for your money – the more I race, the more I’m aware of being ripped off by big name events. There’s no danger of this with Milton Keynes, it’s never a name that will attract the glory hunters. The entry fee is really competitive, I got a nice goody bag and big medal. Accommodation is cheap, I chose a Premier Inn for the night before and after and there are loads of similar well priced options.
Overall think…. nice, pleasant, straightforward, fit for purpose and fair. The Milton Keynes Marathon won’t rock your racing world but if you want a well organised, good value and perfectly runnable marathon you won’t be disappointed.