Maurice McCrohan reports: “I was looking for a change from Rotterdam for an early April marathon,another “goldilocks marathon”,not to far away,flat and easy for hotels near the start and finish.So, it was the Greater Manchester Marathon that I signed up for.The start and finish is at Old Trafford.I stayed in Salford Quays,across from the tram stop and a ten minute easy jog to the race HQ.
The race is on the smaller side for a city race,around 5000 marathon finishers in 2013.My cab driver from the airport was in chatty mood until I told him the reason for my visit,I then got a jokey with an edge tirade about how he will be stuck in his estate all day Sunday while a load of mid life crisis bald blokes and overweight women plodded past !
The race is small for a city race,around 5000 finishers in 2013.I am a bit expoed out when it comes to marathons,so was pleased when the organisers advised that overseas had a option to pick up the race number on the morning.
I was up early ,hotel breakfast pack and porridge consumed by six thirty am,so I was all set to pick up my race number.It was an straight forward ten minute walk to the race village.I found the information tent and was warmly congratulated for volunteering as a pacer!
Confusion reigned for a short while,but we got over that and I was away with my number!
I had time to go back to my hotel and chill out there rather than standing around in the mild breezy weather.I was reading Running with the Kenyans by A Finn to get in the mood.A great book ,
I warmed up on the way up to the start ,There was no big queue to reach the start ,We were off bang on 9am.
There was a 3hour pacer and he attracted a crowd like a celebrity at a supermarket opening.
It was tight and crowded early on.Cones to separate the crowd from the traffic was a hazard at times.The water stations were a bit of a scrum.As for the drinks,the water came in plastic pouches.Me of the cack handed gene just could not get the water flowing out.
I tried to bite on the pouch and it would just burst!Bring back paper cups!
I found it hard to pick the mile markers for the first half of the race.They were either obscured or not there,not sure which.
I stayed with the 3 hour pacers but in Colemanesque style I was running backwards from 10 miles.At halfway,I needed the mother of negative splits to get a 2!
The water stations were plentiful in the latter half,perhaps too many with my interminable battles to open the water pouches!There were no energy drinks on offer in the latter stages ,which would have come in handy .The crowds were good towards the end and many had jelly babies and sweets for the runners.
I passed out fellow Clonliffe Hans ,who had made a brave attempt to keep with the 3hour pacers.Marathon running is a safe substitute for the camaraderie of warfare.Hans!. we lost him at 19!There are many casualties out there!
I counted the miles down to 25 in my head,knowing there was only one to go after that.20 miles at 2.20,I was looking at 3.05plus.My speed work has been lacking and it showed,The wrong kind of shoes,water and weather were no excuses,Though age might be!
From 25 there was a long drag up to the ground.Lots of support,but no countdown of 800 metres etc.We eventually rounded a corner and saw the finish.I mobotted home to a 3.07,not one of my best.
The race village was well laid out.Loads of water at the end.but no energy drinks around.The wrap around baco foil blanket kept me warm,the goody bag a bit sparse.I hobbled back to my hotel and crashed out for a while.
In summary,a decent marathon,flat course easy to get to,plenty of hotels nearby.But not a wow factor.I can relax ,while I get ready for an endurance test of my know,celebrating a landmark birthday next week!”