BUPA Manchester 10k and

London 10k 2014

I ran both the Manchester and London 10 k’s in consecutive Sundays in May 2014 and both were incredibly different. After my trapped nerve and having to rest I hadn’t managed to do as much training in the 2 weeks leading up to the runs as I had anticipated so felt very under prepared even after 7 months of training. It’s amazing how a drop in training can drain you mentally. As I ran both 10 k’s and both are BUPA runs I thought I would give an overview of them.

Pre race

Both packs were received at least a week before the race. They both enclosed the running number, timing chip with ties, a plastic bag to use on the day at the drop off baggage point, an information magazine and the London pack contained 4 safety pins.

Congregating and Starting the Race

The Manchester waves are given a specific start time so are told to congregate on Portland Street at a given time. They are told to arrive in the city centre after a certain time so to avoid overcrowding and traffic. My blue wave was due to start at 11.25am and were told to congregate at 10.50am. Although I arrived much earlier on Portland Street and believed I was at the front of Blue Wave, I ended up not at the front as other blue runners had made their way to back of the other wave from down other side streets. This was frustrating as I had wanted to get a good start. The race started on time and I was about 30 seconds from the front.

The London 10K congregates at Green Park where there are many facilities on site. You can drop your bag in the baggage drop from 9am and the waves are called in order from around 9.40am to come to the start line on Pall Mall. 10am is the starting time for all waves but they are staggered with a slight delay between each wave. I managed to get right to the front of my wave with no problem. Waves are walked to the start line after the previous wave has set off. My Green Wave set off at around 10.15am.

Course

The Manchester 10 km started on Portland Street near the junction with Oxford Street. It continued down Chepstow Street and Great Bridgewater Street and turned left onto the A5103. These roads were very congested with people and it was difficult to overtake. I was knocked quite hard by a few runners pushing past me. Then it veered right onto City Road East, continued onto Great Jackson Street and turned left onto Chester Road. Here the course started to open out. I’d already gone out too quickly and the temperature was in the high 20’s so I was struggling from early on. The road then turned right onto Sir Matt Busby Way past Old Trafford Football Stadium and veered left onto Wharfside Way turning right into Warren Bruce Road (approx 6 km). At this point I remember running behind somebody and my legs simply being unable to carry me any faster. They were like lead weights, the sun was bearing down on me, and there was no shade at all. My mental state wasn’t good and I just wanted to stop. I could hear my pace slowing from my runkeeper app and I felt myself failing. A sharp right took you up Trafford Wharf Road and following the road around in an S shape back onto Chester Road back towards Manchester city centre. Somewhere between the 7 and 8 km marker I dug really really deep and pushed very hard. Onto the home stretch and nothing left to give I gave it everything I had, thinking of my kids waiting for me at the end. The finish line was on Deansgate and it was lined deep with people. As I crossed the finished line I looked up and saw my wave time of over 59 minutes but also got an instant text message from BUPA stating Helen finished the course in 58:32. I was pretty pleased with this given the heat. The course measured 6.26 miles on my runkeeper app.

The London 10 Km started on Pall Mall, running underneath admiralty Arch and turned right at Trafalgar Square. It was a lovely day, quite warm but not overly hot. It continued down Whitehall past 10 Downing Street and turned left onto Horse Guards Avenue and then left again onto Victoria Embankment alongside the River Thames. This is where the course opened out a little. The roads are much smaller in London so overtaking is constantly an issue and as the waves are sent off in quite quick concession you find yourself catching up with other runners quite rapidly. The course continued under Blackfriars Bridge (water station) and turned left and right onto Queen Victoria Street. There is a very slight incline here and when I say slight I mean slight. I am used to huge hills. This course is lovely and flat compared to my local training runs of hills, hills and more hills.  It turned left onto Friday Street and right onto Cannon Street but then veered back onto Queen Victoria street. At this point I was nearly tripped up by a female runner with absolutely no clue about common courtesy. I watched her as she ran on and did the same to several others, oblivious to her obnoxious running. I passed her a minute later and we ended up playing a cat and mouse game for best past of the race to the end (I won!) The course then turned right and went through Leadenhall Market. There were some drummers in here and the noise was most certainly deafening even when wearing headphones but memorable. The road then turned left onto Fenchurch Street, right onto Mark Lane, right onto Great Tower Street and continued through to Cannon Street and back onto Queen Victoria Street. The course then veered left onto White Lion Hill, as the name suggests it is a hill, and back down Blackfriars Underpass (water station) onto Victoria Embankment back towards Westminster. The course was absolutely full of spectators cheering the crowds on for the full distance which was amazing. I was really pleased to see the charity I was raising money for was there and they made a huge amount of noise as they saw me which lifted my spirits enormously so thanks to the SSAFA team for that. The crowds became greater towards Westminster and I high-fived a few children along the way.  The course turned right at Big Ben onto Great George Street going past St James Park onto Birdcage Walk and then turning right at Spur Road for the finish line outside Buckingham Palace. By the time I saw the 800m mark I had no extra to give having already run at my max for the full race.  As I crossed the finish line there was only one finish time so unlike the Manchester race I had to rely on my app for an approximate time as there is no text service. You have to check the website for your time the following day. I finished in a time of 56:46. The course measured 6.54 miles on my runkeeper app.

Water

In the Manchester 10 k there is an Aqua Pura water station on the course just before the 5 km marker, just past Old Trafford. I didn't see any water being handed out before the run anywhere or afterwards, apart from one free water in my bag. Other facilities for runners include the “run-through” shower just before the end of Trafford Wharf Road at around the 6.5 km point.

In the London 10 k there is a Water station under Blackfriars Bridge so water is available on the way and on the way back (approx 3 and 7 km). Water is available in Green Park pre and post race and a bottle of water is in the post race goodie bag. There was a shower spray roughly at around Canon Street. (approx 6.5 km)

Conclusions

It’s hard to believe they are both BUPA runs as the organisation of both events is entirely different. Manchester does boast the highest number of runners for a 10 k race in Europe (approx 40,000) whereas London less than 12,000 ran. Both were tricky courses for the number of people involved and not being able to overtake easily especially early on. The atmosphere was great at both events but London much better with many more spectators and charities lining the streets throughout the course but it’s much easier as it takes part right in the city centre whereas in Manchester it goes off the beaten track. The weather in Manchester didn't help, there was no shade and it was it was overbearing, there should have been more water provided in this circumstance.

I have run the London 10 k twice now and it’s a great course. The congregation at Green Park, baggage areas, facilities, wave times and course work great (except the fact it measures too far?!). The one thing I would like to see is them add the text service so you know your time straight away.

Tips/things to consider for anyone considering running Manchester/London 10k

  • Getting there – Both runs start early (depending on your wave in Manchester) so make sure you can get there. You may need to stay overnight somewhere, which can be very costly in a city centre especially mixed in with travel expensive.
  • Both runs are a bit of a fight with the crowds especially within the first mile. Try not to go out to hard and conserve your energy for the later miles.
  • Water – London provides adequate water but make sure you take some to the start with you but Manchester didn't so make sure your take your own with you.
  • If you’re aiming for a Personal Best it’s very unlikely that you will get one in Manchester as it’s Europe’s biggest 10 k with 40,000 runners. London is a better bet with a flatter faster course though the roads are narrower.

And on the day…….

  • Make sure you get near the front of your wave – so get there nice and early.
  • Have a wee before you get lined up – don’t make the mistake of needing to go right before the race, the queues are massive.
  • Enjoy the atmosphere, take it all in.