Whenever a Manchester Marathon comes round I think back to a cool, crisp, sunny morning in Heaton Park and meeting up with my fellow Swinton Running Club friends Stu and Phil for the Start of the Manchester Marathon on 13th October 1996. It was my first marathon. I still remember the nerves and the excitement as I was about to go into the unknown by running further than I had ever run before. I remember standing in the park under to glorious blue sky, with the dew on the grass, feeling cold in my red, white and black Swinton Running vest. I also remember the finish in Wythenshawe Park, meeting up with Yuk-Lam and my parents, feeling dizzy and saying “Never again.”
Forward now 20 years to 2017 and now my 248th marathon, not quite the same nerves but still the same excitement to be part of what I consider my local large road marathon. Even after so many marathons I haven’t lost my desire to keep running 26.2 miles. Once again this year the weather replicated back to my first marathon cool and calm with some beautiful blue sky and pleasant sunshine, perfect running conditions. Before the start I enjoyed bumping into a handful of running friends; 10in10ers Davey, Lesley, Sonja and Penny and local runners James, Stu and Simon to name a few. As I made my way to the starting pens with Simon I bumped into another fellow 10in10er, Sally. Simon wished me well and made his way to the front pen and I stayed with Sally. As Ron Hill started the race I stayed with Sally for the first few miles but I found her quick pace too much for me and dropped back. Interestingly the first 5k was faster than my previous day’s Parkrun!
With the perfect weather conditions and the flat fast course I was torn between running for a fast time or taking it as a training run in preparation for the 10in10 in May and protecting my recovering left knee. In the end, I seemed to hover somewhere in between the two.
As the race headed into Carrington and the 20 mile point, where things start to get tough and the crowds were at their thinnest so it was great to have Emma, Jane and Barbs turn up on their bikes with some encouragement, thanks ladies!
Shortly afterwards I had James catch me up, he was working very hard and on course for a PB. I kept alongside him for the next few miles to help support him, to only let him go in the last mile as he pushed so hard and it was more than I wanted to do. Well done James on managing your new shiny marathon PB.
I was so pleased to see my home town put on such a well organised race. Everything went as planned, the marshals were brilliant at start, finish and all the water stations. It was particularly brilliant to have my club, Astley and Tyldesley Road Runners managing the 25 mile water station to cheer me on and give me a boost so close to the finish.
This year the finish was set up outside the iconic Lancashire County Cricket Ground. I finally crossed the finish line in 3:16:14 under the large finish line gantry with hundreds of spectators lining the street on both sides, it was the best atmosphere I’ve ever experienced for a Manchester marathon finish. I had planned on trying to get under 3:30 so I had achieved far better than I had planned, a testament to a great marathon event and perfect weather conditions.
After finishing the event I made my way to see my friends from Astley & Tyldesley Road Runners who were manning the 25 mile water station. It was great fun seeing them and helping hand out water to the runners who were still running out on the course.