“I was unsure what to expect from Manchester Marathon. I have run the London marathon 5 times and nothing else has quite compared to the electric atmosphere, yet this year a family event meant I had to defer my London place to 2019 and, as April loomed, I was becoming more and more desperate for a spring marathon. I had trained during the winter as I do every year, building up the long runs each weekend, and in February completed the Belvoir Challenge.
“By mid-March I was chomping at the bit, so made a last-minute entry to Manchester with just three weeks to spare!
“The morning of the race arrived and we travelled from our hotel by Metro to the start. The race area was well sign posted and clear, with the start line being very well organised – quite possibly more Portaloos then London!! As with all large events you are allocated a starting pen, based on your estimated completion time. In London this has always been tightly controlled with officials checking you in and out of the start areas to ensure everyone starts in the correct pen, whereas in Manchester, it was one long road where you could walk about freely and place yourself in your designated area – or further forward if you felt brave enough!
“It was a chilly start but the day promised to be mild and still. I was assigned pen D to start; reasonably near the front of the field. I had tried not to place too much expectation on finish times having only entered at the last minute, but I knew I would be disappointed if I didn’t run sub 03:45 and buy myself another chance for a good for age place in London for 2020.
“The race didn’t quite go to plan. Conditions were perfect; the weather man was right and the temperature was about 14 degrees with next to no wind at all, and the course was as promised – flat. For the most part, it weaved through suburbia with just one stretch on more rural roads around mile 18, before heading back into the city. Support was quiet in these areas but there when you needed it approaching the finish. I desperately tried not to get carried away in the first half and stick to plan and maintain a steady pace (always challenging in such a large event), but by mile 18 I was really feeling it. The balls of my feet felt on fire from the constant pounding and I was starting to feel the time was slipping away.
“Mile 21 approached and the crowds started to reappear and support lifted me and those around me. I managed a respectable 03:41 on the day, comfortably within the 03:45 cut off I had in mind.
“I think we always take something away from these events. I had been struggling with my road shoes for some time, having always had issues with blisters I decided to opt for a trusty old pair of Sauconys on race day to limit the damage and the balls of my feet really suffered from lack of cushioning – with over 500 miles ran in them, they have seen better days! Nutrition worked relatively well on the day, I could probably have done with increasing the carbs more in the 48 hours prior.
“The marathon will always be an enormous challenge for many, but it really is my favourite distance to race, I thoroughly enjoy the months of training, the need to get out during the winter, to keep motivated and focused during the cold dark months, to then look forward to the milder spring conditions and put the hard work into practice.
“Nothing beats crossing that finish line!”
As told by Sophie Davies. Congratulations from everyone at the club on achieving a great time in challenging circumstances – we hope the feet are feeling better now!