I didn't run the Brighton marathon today
In 2010, I ran my first marathon. Frustrated with the near impossibility of success in the London marathon ballot process and its rampant commercialism, I applied for the first running of the Brighton race. There was nothing to lose as they had a guarantee of your money back if you did make it through the London ballot. Nice.
Despite injury very nearly keeping me away, I did make it, and struggled immensely. It was physically and mentally the hardest thing I had ever done and I hated it. And yet I loved it. The support from the crowd was awesome. Especially during those last few never ending miles along the seafront promenade. The race marshals were unable to keep the spectator at bay as they moved forward, encouraging all the runners during their time of greatest need. Incredible.
It hurt like nothing before and I vowed never to do it again. A few post-race recovery drinks (ie, beer) later I had signed up for the next year.
But this time I did get through the London ballot. With the races on consecutive weekends, a decision had to be made. The race I had loved so much but had nearly broken me, or the iconic marathon, the one everyone calls the marathon.
So I did both. And it was hard work, but I enjoyed the challenge. Brighton wasn't quite the same though. The organisers had made sure that the spectators were further away from the runners along the promenade. In the name of health and safety, they had taken some of the fun away.
With London crossed off my todo list (and honestly, I wouldn't run it again) I applied once again for Brighton. Post race, it had lost more of its sparkle somewhere. Annoying things, like having to come down the day before to pick up your race pack from the marathon expo. The B&Bs now all realising that there was going to be a huge influx of people for that particular weekend and hiked up their prices accordingly. Oh, and you must book for at least 2 nights. The money-back guarantee for successful London applicants had gone. This is now an expensive race to enter.
In 2013, the race was bigger than ever. Yet the organisers chose to artificially narrow the course over the first half. When most people are bunched together. On top of that I was put into a start corral with an expected finish time 1-2 hours slower than I had achieved in previous races and they refused to allow me to move to where I was supposed to be. Dodging between people for the entire first half really ruined my day. Months of training cast aside by a clerical error and a stubborn marshal.
This year I did have an entry. I would have run all 5 Brighton marathons held so far. Now having a baby to look after I can't commit to long training runs but I could still have made the start line and "got around" in a fair time. But it's just not fun any more. There is no magic to it. It feels like it's trying to be a commercial concern.
It pains me to not be there, but the Brighton marathon is no longer a race for runners and I fear I've run my last.