Great Manchester Run

May 28th 2017

There is always an amazing atmosphere at the Great Manchester Run. I think it’s the people of Manchester. Let me get this straight. I am not a fan of living in the Grim Norf. It rains a lot. It’s industrial and cold but over the past 17 years it’s kind of worn me down. The people come together and have a great sense of pride. I like that. On Monday 22nd May when Salman Abedi killed 22 innocent lives at the Manchester Arena, the people of Manchester did just that, came together in defiance and unity.

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I was half expecting the Great Manchester Run to be cancelled as it was only 6 days after the bombing. There were plenty of emails from Great Run informing me that they were working with GMP for the best possible solution and that a couple of days before it would go ahead with greater security. It was never in my head that I would not attend although I had doubts about a large number of people being together being a target. Again, it was the thought of that defiance and strength in numbers. It was the promise of greater security that made me get to the starting line.

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I travelled to Manchester by bus with my girls and immediately in town there was a sombre almost strange feeling. Walking down to the starting area it was very quiet. I met up with my mum who was taking care of my girls during the race and we said our goodbyes. I walked to the bottom of Portland street and joined the orange wave group and waited until start time.

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Before the orange wave start there was a minute’s silence for the 22 lives lost and local poet, Tony Walsh, recited a poem ‘do something’. It was incredibly moving and inspiring.

I was ready to go.

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The funnel at the start means that runners are staggered past the start line. However, during the first half a mile this didn’t stop me being pushed (quite physically) 3 times. I was on the left side, I was in the right wave (and certainly not starting right at the front). Yet three separate men felt the need to shove me to one side, then cut across my path. I will never understand this non-etiquette. If you want a runner to move then shout, touch them (not that I had anywhere to move to as I was penned in). It’s rude and unnecessary.

When the road opens out onto the dual carriageway (Bridgewater Way) the field opens, so the issue of congestion isn’t as bad. It was however very hot and by 2km I realised that I was hammering this course and hard as I could. I decided to carry on and see what I could do. I saw a friend from work and this spurred me on.

I hit 3km at 15 minutes and realised I wasn’t going to PB but I could get an okay time. I continued to go quite hard and hit Old Trafford at 5km at 25:38. I grabbed some water to pour over my neck as the heat was getting to me.  It was at this point that I knew I couldn’t continue at this pace, or didn’t really want to, knowing I had a heavy week of training ahead. I am not entirely sure which. I eased back intentionally.

I was glad of the odd bit of on course entertainment. Drums, boons music, a few bands. I had forgotten to unpack my headphones from the bag and parts of the course have very little support. From around 6km (BBC studios onwards) there are quite a lot of people and these really help lift your spirits. I had a few people shout my name. Lots of children wanting high fives. I knew that Jane, my friend from work, would be on the course on the way back so was looking forward to a cheer on the way back.

As I rounded back onto Bridgewater way I knew from experience it was only a couple of km’s to go. There was a welcome water station at the top of the road and I poured water all over my self.

Jane didn’t see me coming as she attending to an injured runner. She’s an amazing lady but caught a pic of me anyway. Only a km to go and so many people near town centre. Everyone shouting names and cheering people home to the finish. Wonderful.

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I thought I might be able to make under 53 minutes so had tried to speed up on the last mile. I sprinted to the finish line but my time was 53:23. I was disappointed but on reflection I know this is probably the fastest 2 miles I have run all year. I had run an ultra-just the week before so I can’t be too hard on myself. I can’t expect quick times as I haven’t trained to run fast this year. I obviously still have the drive to get quicker.

I collected my goody bag from the finish area. This included a medal, a t-shirt, a leaflet with a Nando’s discount, a chocolate bar, a dairy drink and a foil blanket. I was very lucky and my charity, ASSERT, gave me a place as I am fundraising for them this year. However, if I paid £30+ for a 10k I would be very disappointed with this. Given I don’t eat dairy and couldn't eat the two items in the bag! 

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After quite a walk past the collection of goody bags you are directed to the baggage buses or funnelled right onto Peter Street. Here is where I met my girls who were waiting eagerly for me for big post run cuddles.  

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