Manchester Marathon 29th April 2012May 4, 2012
I’d been dreading this race, and really looking forward to it at the same time. The last couple of months saw me getting up at 6am on Sundays to go and pound out the long training runs whilst most people slept. Oh how I have changed! It all came down to this day and my first crack at a full marathon and to be perfectly honest, I was really nervous. So at 6.30 am, my wife Bev and I set off on the drive to Deansgate Locks where we had booked a hotel for Sunday night after the race. We left the car at the hotel and got the tram to Stretford to the start. We got the first taste of the conditions that awaited us whilst standing on the Metrolink platform. Strong winds and rain swirled around the station as it filled with runners eager to get to the start.
I was going to text Ray and some other friends that were running before the race to meet up for a natter, but time was against me and I didn’t get chance due to a couple of problems with the organisation. This is a new event so I expected the odd teething problem but the lack of toilets and woefully undermanned baggage drop procedure was worrying. I managed to get in to a portaloo with 20 mins to go after queueing for nearly 30 minutes, by this time the bag drop queue had hundreds of people trying to drop their bags, without the line appearing to move, runners where understandably getting worried when eventually an official told everyone to place the bags in a pile against the tent and they would sort it all out during the race, far from ideal! Cue a mad dash to the start which was at least 10 minutes from the race village where the runners congregated for the start.
A few minutes later and the muffled sound of a gun and we all shuffled our way on mass towards the start to begin the 26.2 miles, and 8000 runners were finally on their way! I said all along that I would be more than pleased with a sub 4 hour time and had set my garmin up accordingly, I also planned to stay around the 4 hour pace group until the second half of the race and then see if I could stay ahead of it, The snag was that i didn’t know where the 4 hour pace group was, so I found a decent rythmn and tried to get on with it, after the first mile or so, I found myself bearing down on the 4hrs 15mins pace group, I soon passed them but was then passed by Bob Hope from Emmerdale! he was quick, so I didn’t try to stay with him and carried on, I caught up with the 4 hour pace group after 3 miles and I intended to stick with them, unfortunately that was also a lot of other peoples plan and I couldn’t settle with the increase in human traffic, I didnt feel comfortable slowing to their pace after running quicker beforehand, so I kicked on and left them (TMI Alert!) and its a very good job I did because around mile 6, I started to experience stomach cramps. During the rush and uncertainty before the race, I didn’t relax and make full use of the portaloos and this was worryingly coming back to haunt me. At the next water station there were two cubicles, I managed to dive into one and do my business, before I did, I checked my garmin which I’d set the virtual partner to a 3:59:00 race, I was 2 minutes ahead. I managed to get underway again just as the 4:15 pace group passed by! I quickly settled back into my rhythmn and cruised away from them.
The crowds along the route were top notch, especially as it was tipping down for the duration of the race, they were loud and encouraging, especially when I reached Altrincham when a wall of noise hit me as I ran through to town centre, at this point I noticed Bev on the sidelines, I ran over gave her a kiss and carried on barely giving her time to realise I was there! Then on to Dunham Park and the route changed from roads to exposed rural, waterlogged country lanes, howling winds and sideways hail and rain. Many runners did not expect this and struggled. Many did not dress for the conditions and wore just shorts and a vest and were visably struggling with the cold, more people were walking by now. I wore a smock and a buff on my head, and although not waterproof, they really made a difference. What also undoubtably helped me is a winter of fell running in all conditions because as bad as it was at this point, I’ve been on top of Winter Hill in worse, in the dark, with a headtorch!
The country roads gradually became proper roads again as the industrial estates of Partington came and went, the crowd got bigger on the sidelines as the miles went by, before I knew it I’d gone beneath the M60 at the 24 mile mark, now I was feeling it. My legs were like lead but the spectators were brilliant, bringing out jelly babies and wine gums and really encouraging us along, back into Stretford and through a subway(!) before the final mile. I managed to find a bit extra and quickened up for the run into Longford park and the finish line which I managed to (almost) sprint to, crossing the line to record a chip time of 3:50:48. Almost TEN minutes quicker than what I planned to be! Without my toilet stop and in better conditions maybe I could have got a 3:45:00. At least it gives me a target for next time, and there will be a next time because I have now got the marathon bug!
What followed was nothing short of disgraceful. on finishing runners were directed to the bag reclaim which had been abandoned. Bags had just been left unattended, in unsorted piles, in no particular order, in tents that were not fit for purpose, or outside in the rain and mud. Cold, wet, knackered runners were having to rake through piles of bags in the hope of finding their warm, dry clothes. I stumbled across my bag after searching for half an hour, I was one of the lucky ones. I heard the police had to come and sort out the mess left by the organisers and that some people didn’t get there bags back at all. In my opinion this is woefully negligent. Unless massive changes are made and proper procedures are put in place, I won’t run this race again, however I have signed up to do the Chester marathon on the 7th October!
First name Last name Club Race# Gender Finish status Age category Gun time Chip time
JANE COUNSELL LOSTOCK AC 2723 Female Finished SEN 03:40:35 03:39:46
RAYMOND MCGLOIN LOSTOCK AC 2776 Male Finished V50 03:43:10 03:42:17
MARK LIPTROT St Helens Sutton AC 1310 Male Finished V50 03:49:47 03:47:37
PAUL SPEED LOSTOCK AC 7691 Male Finished V40 03:53:29 03:50:48
MAGGIE SLAMIN LOSTOCK AC 4586 Female Finished V40 04:33:02 04:30:08
May 4, 2012 20:18
Well done everyone, great turnout in terrible weather!!
Speedy dont get too hooked on marathons, theres plenty of longer fell races to go at, and they’re cheaper!!.
Top tip Speedy, which will come in handy for the sneaky camera man at the top of a gruelling climb – dont forget to smile.
May 7, 2012 16:36
Well done all.
Who is Jane Counsell?
May 8, 2012 20:44
A great time for a first marathon Paul. It was great preparing for it with you.
May 9, 2012 9:13
Some good times there in horrendous conditions.
The St Helens runner wasn’t me by the way – I did the Fellsman the day before and sold my entry to a work colleague.
Unethical I know, but if they’re going to charge £40 and not give full or partial refunds or not allow you to defer your entry then what can you do?
Anyway, well done everyone. When I looked out of the window on the Sunday morning I was glad I wasn’t doing it!
Jun 4, 2012 19:16
I am glad I am not the only one who looks awful at the end of a race
Well done anyway