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Manchester Marathon – SJ Members Highlights

Last Sunday saw the 8th installment of the Manchester Marathon, one of the biggest on the UK calendar. And of course, there were Sandhurst Joggers enjoying the near-perfect running weather to get around the 26.2 mile course! See what they had to say below….

Claire Rowse: ‘After another unsuccessful entry for VLM ballot, and running my first marathon well at Bournemouth last October, I decided to enter Manchester, with the hope that I might be in a good position to try for Good For Age for VLM for 2020. I took the train up to Manchester on the Saturday with my family and we stayed overnight in the city centre. On the morning of the race, the hotel wasn’t serving breakfast early enough so I had a porridge pot and a cuppa in the bedroom. The nearest tram stop was a 2 minute walk from the hotel so I took this down to Old Trafford to the race village where I met up with Patrick Wadsworth and Caroline Stuart. Caroline and I were in the same start area so we started the race together after waiting what seemed like an eternity.

The race itself passed in a lot of a blur to be honest. Although there was a lot of crowd support, I missed seeing friends and family supporting me en route. I saw Patrick just before mile 11 at one of the points where the out and back passed. After mile 10 I remember thinking why am I not only doing a half? And then once I got to 13 miles, I was counting down…I’m half way there; I’m in single figures now; only 6 more to go etc…by 18 miles, my legs were tired and heavy and I was hot even though it wasn’t an overly hot day. But I knew that if I could dig deep and keep positive , I could still get the time I was hoping for. I went to Manchester hoping for at least 3:50, or nearer to 3:45 if I could do it, and I managed to pull 3:44:02 out of the bag. A time I’m so proud of, 12 minutes off my Bournemouth time…and fingers crossed enough for VLM 2020!’

Blanche Barnes: ‘My first marathon & I never dreamt it would hurt this much, ignorance is definitely bliss. We arrived in Manchester on the Saturday night & met up with Alison and Sarah Jones, Alison insisting that chilled Sauvignon Blanc was necessary pre-race fuelling. The tram to the start on Sunday was quick & simple. Alison & I were in the same wave and during the long wait she kept me highly entertained by trying to sell me Loch Ness or Farnham Pilgrim as my ‘next marathon’ in between loads of good tips about pacing & mental tactics. Then just before the start, I needed a last minute visit to the (icky) portaloos, and ended up in the next wave. At this point, alone yet surrounded by hundreds of friendly runners, I got a bit teary at the thought of running nonstop for c 4 1/2 hours and the reasons I was doing it (fundraising, personal challenge), thank goodness no photographers there!

First 5 miles were good, though my pelvis was already hurting (it had been niggling over last 2 weeks & I’d been hoping it was fixed with a last minute trip to chiropractor on the Friday). Tried to stay steady and was very happy to see John in the crowd at 3 miles in, amazing how much a familiar face can give you a lift, even at the early stages. I honestly can’t remember the route, though I was very uplifted by the locals’ welcome as you reached each new suburb like Sale & Altrincham. By mile 8 the pain was intensifying and I was already getting stressed about whether I could finish, so I pretty much zoned out, broke it down in my mind to a mile at a time & tried to focus on maintaining consistent pace, taking shot bloks, electrolytes and water regularly and remembering the advice I’ve had about technique. This got me round the out and back loop near mile 11 where you see runners way ahead of you returning, that’s always tough.

The sun came out at mile 16 which I took as a good sign, even though the pain was now spreading across my hips so I felt like I’d been kicked by an angry donkey. But yay, only 10 miles to go! I could feel myself getting slower and still tried to focus on each individual mile, trying for 10 minute/mile and then 10.30/11 when it was clear I couldn’t hold the 9.30/9.45 I originally had in mind. Not for pace, but just to bring the end nearer really. By mile 22 I was passing lots of people walking and was relieved it was not just me suffering. Mile 24 and I suddenly had a completely new but agonising pain in my right knee…I tried walking but found it hurt even more. By 25 I so wanted to stop but had to keep going due to the crowd barriers giving you nowhere to go, never mind the potential embarrassment factor. So relieved to finally finish & of course then I got emotional all over again!’

Alison Jones: ‘My daughter Sarah accompanied me on this trip, which made the drive more pleasant. We arrived on Saturday afternoon in time to watch the Grand National, and then we met up with Blanche and John Barnes who were staying in the same hotel and went out to eat.

Sunday morning arrived, it seemed after very little sleep, and off we went to the start line via the tram system, which was pretty easy to negotiate, after the usual toilet queue I went off to find the bag drop which was a good 10 minutes away from the start, so that was my warm up taken care of!

Although we had planned to start together Blanche felt the need for another toilet break so I headed off without her.  The weather was overcast but pleasant enough, perfect running weather.

With 20,000 participants the starts were staggered so I did not cross the start line until 09.29 having been ready to go at 09.00hrs.

This was basically a running tour of Manchester, with signs welcoming us to the various districts eg Sale, Altrincham and Timperley (the birth place of Frank Sidebottom) the streets were lined with supporters cheering every runner not just the ones they were there supporting, from the start to the finish, there could not have been a shop in Manchester who had any jelly babies left in stock!

My only issue was about mile 5 when the crowd started saying here come a dinosaur, I thought that’s a bit near the mark! Then it was come on dinosaur, I was really relieved when a guy in a dinosaur suit came passed me, I could stop taking it personally.

The weather started to improve throughout the race and it started to get really warm, but there were  11 water stations no so worries there, but I needed to take a toilet break, again plenty of facilities out on the course, so break over off for the last 10 miles, then I came across a young girl walking and crying, so obviously I had to stop to make sure she was all right, not her first marathon, but nothing was going as planned, I gave her a cuddle and told her to get herself to the finish and move on to the next one, it’s amazing feeling the need to cuddle random strangers in the middle of a race, but it made me feel better about myself and I hope it helped her.

I was pleased with my time of 4.03.40 but more please with my negative split, so despite being called a dinosaur (or so I thought) stopping for the toilet and assaulting random strangers I think it went well and should stand me in good stead for London in a couple of weeks.

As an added bonus I met up with Patrick as I came through the finish area so we had a catch up and he updated me on how all the other SJ’s had done.

A very nice marathon, flat and fast, not overcrowded with 20,000 runners fabulous support and entertainment, loads of water and gels, would I do it again, definitely.’

A fantastic day of running enjoyed by those who took part, by the sounds of it! Maybe this is one to add to the bucket list…?

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