Using cups

A lot of runners may be concerned about how to use cups, having not used them in their training or at other races. Don’t worry, thousands have used cups in other marathons and events successfully, including the elite athletes – it is unlikely to cause you to lose vital minutes.

  • Stop for drinks and fuel as you have planned in your training.
  • Grab the cup and pinch it at the top on one end or in the middle as pictured. This will create a funnel to control the pouring of water and also limit the amount of water splashing out.
  • Remember, you don’t need to get all the water down in a few seconds; you can take your time while drinking and remember to breathe.
  • If you can, test this out in your training – or perhaps set some up that you can run up to and grab and drink in your garden or even in the street.
  • Please read our medical advice for further information on hydration and fuel.

How much to drink?

How much and what type of fluid you drink, will depend on the weather and conditions, the speed you are running and what your body is telling you. In 2017 we had unseasonably hot weather; however it could easily be an extremely cold day. No matter what the weather if you are thirsty make sure you drink – water is usually adequate but it can be combined with isotonic drinks, which will be available on the route.

Although there are regular drink stations on our course (almost every mile), these are not in place so that you stop to drink at every one. Forcing yourself to drink too much water during a race is as dangerous as drinking too little. Think about how much fluid you consume during your long training runs, and try to replicate this intake when running the Marathon. Just because drinks are on offer does not mean you should drink all of them.

Cups are used on course for several considered reasons

  • Drinking little and often has been strongly recommended by our Medical Director and sports nutritionist. However, over-hydrating is more dangerous than becoming dehydrated. We therefore need to manage the amount of fluid we provide runners carefully. Cups allow us to distribute water more effectively along the route as we can provide smaller portions more regularly. Were we to provide water in bottles, the distance between drinks stations would be far greater.
  • We try to be as sustainable event as we can be, printing as little paper as possible and using as little plastics as we can. We also try to minimise the amount of fluid that is wasted. We saw huge wastage when using 500ml bottles of energy drinks and 330ml bottles of water, where runners would take a few sips and then discard the bottle.
  • The clean-up operation is essential for the permission of the event. In order for us to receive an event licence we need to give the city back to the community as quickly as we can after runners have passed along the route. Paper cups are much easier to collect and remove to be recycled, than plastic bottles.
  • As part of our sustainability policy, we will be testing the use of stand pipes to pour water at several water stations in 2019 to reduce the amount of single use plastics. This will reduce bottle use by 40% on course. Our aim is to use stand pipes course wide at future events.
  • Brighton & Hove is actually a very small city yet we manage to attract a very large amount of runners. The route is fairly narrow in places as result of the volume of runners. We believe it is a better experience for runners to run over discarded paper cups at each fluid station, rather than running over partially filled plastic bottles. Just think what 12,500 partially empty bottles would look like, and then think about running over them at the 25mile marker – not much fun!  We actually received more complaints in 2010/11 and had more incidents when using bottles on our course than cups – this is definitely a no-win situation for an event, so we choose to go down the safest route possible.

Why not use pouches again?

In previous years, we used water pouches that featured a tearable strip and a squeeze mechanism, which in theory are fantastic – however feedback on these from our runner survey was negative with many runners struggling to tear the strip and choking on the water as they squeezed the pouch. We decided that runners not being able to use the pouches easily was more a hindrance than having to slow down a little to drink from a cup.