I am going to do this review slightly different, partly becuase it has been difficult to holistically sum up VLM as it is different from any other races I have done.
I had a charity ballot place for VLM, it was very straightforward to enter VLM online and it was a step by step process. Only comment on charity places would be that the charity thought they had registered me however they hadn't sent me the separate registration link the runner uses because it isn't very big on the charity portal. If you are a charity place it is worth following up if you don't receive the registration link especially as it needs to be completed before mid-January (miss that deadline and you lose your place).
Pre-race emails from VLM were fantastic, they did the usual weekly countdown emails in the weeks leading to the race which included top tips for runners, discounts, interviews etc so everyone turned up in London knowing what to expect. As it was expected to be a heatwave as well as a DLR strike, the organisers were very helpful in sending emails with advice from their medical director as well as alternative travel arrangements should the DLR strike have gone ahead (It didn't thankfully). At the Expo (where you collect your number) they did a very help experts show on the stage. It's worth a watch and listen as Geoff Whightman, Martin Yelling and Anita Bean were very insightful as they went into detail about the startline process, the course and reccomended pre-race nutrition.
It was very easy to get to the startline Pre-race in Grenwich, VLM preapred a number of timetables showing recomended routes and the startline was sign posted from the station in Grenwich to the start area. Baggage and the start area was very well set up with ample toilet facilities and water. The finish area was very smooth as you went through to collect your medal, t-shirt, baggage etc as well as the meeting points on Horsegaurds Parade. Worth noting, there is a lack of phone signal at the finish as it is very busy - it is recomended to agree to meet family and friends in the meeting area.
Quality of Feed Stations
Overall, water stations were very well laid out. There is a hydration point every mile (from 3mi) and 5 lucozade stations on course. Given the extrodinary heatwave we experienced it did mean everyone was drinking at every water station so supplies were lower than normal. Only downside is that they replaced 3 stations with paper cups as a trial, hopefully they don't go down the line of papercups at every station as it would be a real negative for the event.
Value for Money
As a charity ballot I got my place for free however I understand that a normal place costs £31 - this is great value for a UK Marathon (and cheapest of the 6 Majors).
This is London, the scenery although not natural it is amazing. Every twist and turn of the course provided something different however the start in Grenwich does conform to the tag 'Natural Beauty'.
Again, this is London...It's not every day you get to run on closed roads through London. It's pretty special running around Cutty Sark, Tower Bridge and onto the Mall infront of Buckingham Palace.
Ease of Navigation
The course is very well signposted. There are markers for every 1 Mile and 5 KM's. If you get lost on this course then something has gone seriously wrong.
The crowd is immense at VLM, the crowds are 10 deep at some points with everyone cheering your name and coming onto The Mall it's just a wall of noise. Walking around London later in the day everyone was congratulating runners and I was invited by a friend to the Bloodwise reception, anytime someone walked in there were cheers and everyone started clapping.
Marshall's were fantastic, cheering and clapping each runner as they passed. They were very helpful, I did require a physio as one point and started to cramp where I couldn't move - the marshall was very helpful in getting the physio to come to me to help.
This has to be one of the safest courses I have run. In the first half there are paramedics on bikes and walking the course and later on there was a medic tent with first responders, first aiders, paramedics, physios etc every 1/2 mile with roaming medics between stations. There were unfortunately a few runners who did fall foul of the heatwave and the medics were imediately responsive to those runners. Ambulances were also situated around the course and were on scene when they were required.
Overall a fantastic race, it is a race I reccomend everyone does at least once - you will get the bug.