Macclesfield Half Marathon by Colin Mcevoy
Macclesfield has been a regular fixture for me for the last 3 years and this is my fourth year of running it, this isn’t a flat or easy course with every type of hill that you can think of and a 2:35 (ish) time limit thrown in just to make it fun for any first timers.
For the last 2 years Emma has done the Macc 5k but this year took the plunge and entered the Half Marathon distance aiming to get round within the cutoff time. The weather was brilliant, not a cloud in the sky and almost no wind… it was going to be a warm one for a change.
About 10 minutes before the start the announcer began encouraging everyone to head onto the track for a few laps to warm up, we decided it was probably for the best and headed out for a lap or two with everyone else. As we formed up on the start line I headed to the front and the pacers (a new addition this year) joined us. I chatted to a friend of mine from the Army for a bit and, as he was the 1:30 pacer, I let him know how good it would be to beat him for a change as he always leaves me for dust whenever we race. My usual rival (my brother) wasn’t running this year so I’d have to just focus on beating 1:30.
After the usual safety briefs we were off, it’s a lap and ¾ of the track to spread the field a bit and then it heads out onto the roads of Macclesfield for the rest of the course, I passed Scotty with his 1:30 flag and hoped not to see him again until I’d crossed the finish line.
This year was the hottest yet I’d say, I only usually stop at one of the four water stops, but this time I hit 3 of them and made sure I walked to get some down me as its in plastic cups not bottles and I don’t have the skill required to not choke to death or throw it up my nose. As I was climbing the first long hill at about 5 miles in I decided it had grown since last year and backed off the pace a bit, a few went past but I caught them on the down hill again, it went on like that for most of the race with the race order staying fairly constant.
It’s a long drag from the 10 – 11.5 mile point and as I came to the last mile and a half of slight down hill I heard one of the spectators “oh look, these ones have got flags as well”… I didn’t even look around, I knew exactly who it was and picked up my pace as much as I could for the last mile and a bit, I was blowing hard as he came past near the finish, pushed hard up the 20m hill to the edge of the track and then flew past him on the last few meters on the track… He’d paced it well, he’d hit the last bit on the track with 30 seconds to finish and it only took me 19 to cross the line for a time of 1:29:49 and 29th , happy with that. Banana, water, tea and cake, change t-shirt and I was off again to see how Emma was getting on…
Like most people Emma has a special hatred for hills and she’d started the race with a target of finishing within the cutoff time of 2:35, with this in mind I was expecting to bump into her about 2-2.5 miles back and was very surprised to find her just past the top of the long hill only 1.5 miles from the finish. “I don’t like this course” I laughed and passed a bottle of water and was told “my legs hate me… are we nearly finished?” I stayed with her giving encouragement and as she dug in up the last hill to the track I left her to run the finishing straight on her own to cross the line in an impressive 2:26:48.
I’m hoping to edge my way up towards the top 20 next year and I’m (fairly) sure Emma will be up for it again next year, despite her insistence that she’s never doing it again, she has a target time now