You don’t always get the medal!

Manchester Marathon by Lisa Heyes

Rain, wind, constant dark nights, the training companions of a spring marathon. I racked up over 600 miles during my training plan. My mantra was ‘follow the plan’, I lived and breathed running for over 4 months, as did everyone else in the Heyes household. This isn’t a personal pity party, I actually enjoyed the training, yes sometimes I was knackered and yes the disastrous dark run in Haigh Hall frightened the life out of me and who wants to be called a ‘F***ing Running W***er’ whilst minding their own business running through Hindley, but, the rest was actually great and very enjoyable. Training had been going really well. I’d come through the ‘tired all the time’ stage and was starting to grow in confidence. That was until 2 weeks before Manchester when we went down to London for the London Landmarks half. To be honest a great, well organised race, but for me this race started with a slight niggle and ended at 13.1 miles with excruciating pains shooting down my leg and a broken medal! The next 2 weeks were spent in constant fear, trying to protect my injury, whilst stupidly trying to run the taper miles (well it’s on the plan) what a novice I am!

Sunday I woke up early, kit was out but I was still not sure whether to run, I’d had lots of lovely good luck messages and John brought me my race day breakfast of porridge and a cup of tea, he’s a keeper! I made the decision to go and give it my best shot. Then came the most hilarious car journey curtesy of Paul Fitzsimmons with entertainment provided by ‘Simmo’ so I arrived very chilled out and not my usual nervous wreck. There was time for a quick toilet stop, club photo and the runners ‘magic banana breakfast’ top up. I then made my way, with some fellow Harriers, to my start pen and waited for 10 agonising minutes until we could begin.

Gun went off, wished good luck to my fellow team mates and I set of running only to pass ‘Dubai Jayne’ in the toilet queue! The first 5 miles felt fine, I found myself running with Dave and Lee, we were chatting and keeping a good pace, though as usual at the start we felt we’d gone off too fast! We went through a water station and seemed to come out the other end without Lee.


Mile 6 to 7 my hip started to give me some jip, but nothing major, so on I went, still with Dave.

Mile 8, pain is getting worse and now it’s in my hip and knee, it’s sore and really uncomfortable, but not unbearable, so being the novice I am, onwards I go!

Mile 9, Dave has pulled away slightly, he keeps checking behind for me, I tell him I’m ok (I’m not really) and to keep going, he’s running really well and had a cracking first marathon with a brilliant finish time. Around here is where I see Dave and Jacqui, cheering me on, I should have stopped here as it is really hurting now, which I shout to them, Jacqui makes signals for me to stop and I do think I’m going to but the stupid devil on my back urges me to try a bit further, you never know it might stop hurting, as if?

Mile 10, yes I’m still going! I see Julie’s Joggers shouting and jumping around enthusiastically. I tell Julie I think I’m going to have to stop but they’re so enthusiastic and seem to think I’m just having a wobble and they are so encouraging, so I just carry on past.

Miles 10 – 12, I’m now having to run, walk. The pain is excruciating and shooting all the way down my leg every time my foot strikes the floor. I need to stop and I start looking around for anyone I know or a marshal. Runners are a great bunch and I’m constantly being asked am I ok, do I need help. At this point I see Paul Carter then Alex Roberts on the switch back, they are both looking really strong and in front of the 3:29 pacer, I shout encouragement and hobble on.

Mile 12, I round on to the main street in Altringham. There on the corner is the best sight ever, the Harriers flag! I burst in to tears. Jonathan scoops me in to his coat as I sob my disappointment out. Mike, Katherine, Serena, Rayford and Jonathan were brilliant with me, offering comfort and invaluable advice as even at this point I was still questioning myself and wrestling with carrying on and walking the last 14 or so miles, luckily Mr Harris put his foot down and told me this was not happening! Now this will tell all you runners the state I was in, I still hadn’t stopped my Garmin!


It was decided the best course of action would be for me to go back to the start with Serena, Jonathan and Rayford. Jonathan then carries me to the tram stop, one of them commented it was like the scene from ‘Officer and a Gentleman’, it really wasn’t, it’s him carrying a crying, snotty, middle aged women, poor Jonathan, he’s a good ‘un, my hero for the day. My 3 RACE ANGELS then got me to mile 25, luckily we got there just in time for me to see John well on the way to his sub 3 hour marathon and cheer him and others on. John you did amazingly well and I’m really proud of you.

So, there you go, my experience of this years Manchester marathon, very different to last years euphoric experience. It’s hard to put in hours and months of winter training, then not finish a race you put your heart and soul in to. I really struggled for the first few days after the race with the disappointment I felt in myself and the ‘what ifs’. All the messages I had off you lovely bunch meant I was never far from tears. Family Heyes spent 24 walking on eggshells and poor John had to try and keep the sub 3 smile hidden!

So no ‘meggal’ or t-shirt for me, gutted! But I won’t be the first or last person this happens to.

Moving forward the 4 week ‘lay off’ I’ve had to endure so far has been far worse than the DNF. I have missed being out in the fresh air just putting one foot in front of the other, pain free, with likeminded people, who support each other and who I’m lucky enough to call friends.

GO TEAM HARRIERS

 

A first Marathon

My First Marathon – Manchester

Someone once told me you can’t do a Marathon and for a long time, I started to believe them, which made my confidence go so low. This was not long before and after my injury and I then was told by a Chiropractor you should never attempt one either. From the injury, I had been seeing him over in which I picked up from the 401 (My own fault completely and not Ian Yates as much as I wind him up over it). Well two and bit years after that and working so hard to build back up the miles again, I felt great and even though my times where never the way they were prior to injury. At this point I settled for that and still do. I now don’t chase PB’s and I enjoy every race I entre, take it all in and get to the end. At the end of the day I still get the same medal as everyone and I see it as a plus I haven’t broken myself again on the race.

After gaining a little bit of confidence, getting over some personal issues, I thought “sod this let’s do it”. So, April 2018 I clicked the enter button on Manchester Marathon page and I was in!! Looking back, I was excited and knew I have a whole year ahead of me to process what I had done. Well a few months went by and it didn’t sink in or anything. Well that soon changed come November and the training was just around the corner. I went to the long runs with the DHR, not only are they the most amazing people, I know and ran with before, but I knew that the Sunday long runs would be slightly easier knowing I was with people in the same boat as me. I knew if I did my long runs with them, I would get it done, as no way I would do it on my own. I really can’t thank them enough.

My training was bob on and enjoying it in a weird way, but I managed to pick up an injury. This wasn’t great especially as it wasn’t running related. I had managed to pull a nerve in the lower of my back and for two weeks I could barely sit, move, walk, never mind run. Doctor advised me to not do the marathon and defer it and rest the back. Sadly, I had missed the deferral point. So, I had to bare the pain, take a lot of pain relief and get on with it. So, at points when some of you might have seen I was going a lot slower than planned, I was battling this back pain. Pain killer was my best friend for a month or so that’s for sure.

So, the big day came, I was running this not only for me but for my Dad. Manchester was his home town and was only fitting to do my only marathon there. Also, I decided to run for Sepsis Trust, as sadly, Sepsis took my Dad’s life at the age of 56. I raised over my target, currently at the £400 mark and still getting donations in, so I’m happy. The day started great all packed into the car and parked at Old Trafford. Enough time to get to the finish line to see some of the other fellow harriers, wish them well and move into our allocated pens. I went with James and Emma, it was Emma’s first marathon too. Won’t lie I was nervous and think it’s only right, no matter how many races you do. I was freezing and I realised I should have brought an old jumper to keep me warm. The race started and we watched them on the big screen then we moved to the start ourselves. Then next thing was we were off. We placed ourselves with 5:30 pacer and I was comfy. I know at one point I must have picked up some speed without knowing and didn’t see James or Emma. But at mile 6 I needed a loo stop and then they caught me up and we ran a fair whack after together.

My problem was about mile 15 and that’s when I felt the knee. Not my bad knee with my old injury the good one of all things. I was annoyed and worried about all the other injuries, like my back, this came out the blue. I told them to go don’t wait for me, go and make yourself proud. I walked/ran for two miles. But I ended up walking in too much pain, cold and on the verge of crying. Then this lady came to me, her name was Sam and asked if I was ok, well then that was it the floods opened and she gave me a hug and said she’s hurt to and will run walk with me. I felt happy to have company. We got to mile 22, power walking and chatting away, the time flew. We then bumped into another runner, Karen, who was struggling, and she joined us. At this point Sam said she’ll go a little fast if that was ok which we were happy to let her go and see her husband who had already finished. She said she’ll wait at the end for us.

Me and Karen did the last few miles together chatting and getting though it together. We got to the mile 25 mark and we knew we were at the end and a marshal told us to keep going there’s crowds waiting for us still and cheering. We were happy to hear this as we kind of thought we were last! I spotted my bro just a bit away from the finish line who shouted: “Run Sarah Run, go it’s nearly done, goooooo!!”. This was 400 yards to the end, I said to Karen “come on let’s run this last bit, we are in pain but we can do it”. Then I heard this voice from the crowds shouting “Go Sazzle, go!” and knew it was my boyfriend seeing me in. I won’t lie that 400 yards was so hard with the pain, but I was so happy to see that finish line.

Both of us got our picture taken together, collected our medals and walked through the village to collect our t-shirts. Low and behold we saw Sam, she was there with her husband and she did wait for us. She gave us both a massive hug, well done and left us to meet our supporters. Since the day, me and Karen have become friends and follow each other’s progress on our running.

I found my two supporters and they gave me a massive hug; little cry as was happy I did it and we walked back to the car. Well I say walk, it was more of a ‘John Wayne walk!’ Managed to get home, shower, food and a well-earned early night was needed. I took the day off work the next day which I think was wise. I had no issues with stairs like everyone seemed to have, it was more the general walking flats which I found odd. I took three weeks off running and just focused on swimming, cycling which has helped but I still have knee issues, which I think it mainly due to a tight ITB. Doing stretches and exercises to loosen it will get me back on track in no time. I have learnt to listen to my body.

The whole experience was a mix of emotions from before, the day and after. My head wants to hit another one but sadly my body is so broken it can’t take any more and I will have to stick to half’s from now on. If anyone thinks they can’t do it my words are “YES YOU CAN!”. If I can overcome being told no you can’t, an injury and manage to complete one, then you certainly can. I am happy to tick this off my bucket list and say “I AM A MARATHON RUNNER”.

Sarah-Elizabeth Coates

Manchester Marathon

Well done to all today’s Marathoners. Here are a few of the many photos taken today. PB or a good story to tell? Then please drop us a report so we can share. A glorious turn out of so many black and red vests is worth shouting about!

 

Manchester Marathon by Mel Wane

I never thought I would run a marathon, especially not after having my little girl just over 2 years ago. Then a disappointing summer of running, coupled with the fact that even though I still had almost a stone of baby weight to lose, the baby that caused it was fast becoming a little girl led to me entering the Manchester Marathon.

After four months of hard training, usually accompanied by Becki and Mandy, I arrived in Manchester on Sunday a bag of nerves in a Harriers vest, with Mr W having agreed at the last minute to run with me. We found some of our fellow Harriers in the event village and marvelled at the queues for the bag drop before heading off to the starting pens quarter to 9. Safely in position for the start, there was time for a few quick pre-race selfies before the crowd started to move forward. 10 minutes later,with the start line in sight, our group started to split up. At this point I felt a bit panicked that I wasn’t going fast enough, but my conscience (Gary) told me to hold back and take my time. The first few miles around Trafford were great, the winding course meant that it was easy to spot other Harriers and everyone was still alert enough to cheer each other on. As we made our way past Old Trafford, passing the start again, the music and the crowds gave us a great lift but again my conscience told me not to get carried away.

From there, the road straightened out and we were into the serious miles and the very serious business of running them. Those early miles from Stretford to Sale ticked quietly and easily by. Mr W and I rarely get to run together these days and it was nice to run and chat and enjoy the sunshine. On 8 miles we entered Sale where we saw Julie and Darren cheering us on. The crowds were out in force and we barely went more than 50 metres or so without someone offering us jelly babies or haribos or wine gums…It was amazing – although it does go against the mantra of not trying anything new on race day!

As we headed through mile 9 our paths crossed once more with the runners at the front of the pack and, for the next few miles, Gaz and I played a game of Spot the Harrier that carried us all the way through Timperly.

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After what seemed like a lifetime (it had actually only been just over 2 hours) we were in sight of Altrincham and the halfway point (and some cheering Harriers who had decided that a hill was the best place to get photos of us all – You know who you are!) In all honesty, I started to feel a bit emotional about it all and overcome by how far we still had to go. I was really thankful to have Gaz at my side helping me to re-focus and keep my pace going.

Soon we had passed the halfway point and were making our way back through Timperly, with the sun high in the sky I was glad of the shade provided by the trees and even gladder of the flapjacks in my running belt. Mr W, having stepped in at the last minute, was less well prepared so I sent him of to forage for his lunch amongst well wishers and he returned moments later with some jaffa cakes for himself.

Before too much longer we had hit the 16 mile marker – the mental halfway point according to Gaz. I still didn’t feel too bad and by this point my legs were doing their own thing so I just left them to it. As mile 16 turned into mile 17 we saw Jacqui and Dave – or rather they saw us and shouted and cheered and shouted some more and then it registered that we knew them and I gave them a wave and, before I had really acknowledged them, they were gone.

At mile 18 I was hurting so I decided that painkillers where the order of the day. Over the next two miles they got to work and I arrived at mile 20 feeling relatively fresh and able to enjoy the country air as we made our way out to Carrington. A lot of people have said to me that a marathon is a 20 mile warm up with a 10k race at the end and, somewhere along the way, I must have taken it to heart because something in me started to push on, for the first time I felt like the finish was in sight. For the last 6 miles Gaz steered me round runner after runner and kept me on the racing line.

By the time we had covered 24 miles every step was hurting and every inch of me wanted to stop, but I kept telling myself that the only way I could do that was to get to the finish line so I pushed on. As we passed the 25 mile marker I was really struggling; Mr W, having done well so far, encouraged me to keep going – You’ll see Imogen soon. – of course he underestimated the high levels of emotion that I was experiencing and earned himself a few choice curses while I wiped my face and tried not to cry all the way to the finish.

Before, After and later! 😊

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As we powered through Stretford (no really, it just didn’t look like it from the sidelines) Rachel and Paul were there again cheering us onwards and taking yet more flattering pictures. Then it was round the corner and the finish line was in sight. As my watch beeped to say that I had covered 26 miles I suddenly felt like I was running through sand and burning sand at that. It seemed like rather than getting closer, the finish line was moving further away. Luckily at this point the crowd’s cheering carried me on, I put in a last burst and crossed the line. Staggering down the finish chute and back into the village Gaz – who had very gallantly crossed the line a second after me – caught up and together we looked at my watch…I had hoped to go under 5 hours and possibly even – if I was very lucky – 4:50…With a watch time of 4:45:18 and an almost matching chip time of 4:45:17, I am over the moon with my marathon result. I am officially a better runner now than before having Imogen – something that 2 years ago – as I struggled to finish a 5k in 37 minutes – I never would have thought possible. So I’d like to thank all the Harriers that have cheered me on, and encouraged me and run with me over the last 2 years – especially those times when I didn’t feel good enough or fit enough – I couldn’t have done it without you!

Gary smiling so worth showing again. 😄

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Wigan Harriers Marathon Blitz!

With May drawing to a close it’s time to take stock of how the Club has fared in the spring marathons. An incredible 23 runners competed in four different events – Paris, Manchester, Blackpool and of course London.

PB’s were blown to smithereens, 3 hour barriers broken, Good for age & Championship qualifications for London were all just part of the story.

 

Paris

First up was our solo warrior Paul Platt who flew with the family to Paris for the first marathon. Read Paul’s fantastic report here….Paul Platt

03:24:14 Paul Platt

Although not what he wanted Paul stuck with it and ground out a great 3:24, his first Marathon in a Harriers vest.

 

Manchester

Next up were an incredible 11 runners at Manchester with magnificent entourage of supporters!

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The ladies….

03:10:35 Jayne Taylor V50
03:15:33 April Morgan V45
03:44:00 Annemarie Craven V40

The men….

02:57:06 Howard John Morton Avery
02:58:41 Tony Morgan V45
03:03:18 David Collins V50
03:11:22 Tim Pilkington V40
03:14:45 Mike Harris V40
03:35:27 Stuart Hamilton
03:35:47 Chris Green
04:47:48 Stuart Gibson

I’ve added links below to the brilliant write ups some of the runners compiled.

Tony & April Morgan

Chris Green

Stuart Gibson

Mike Harris & Dave Collins

Howard Avery led the team home with a superlative 2:57:06, not bad considered he was pointing the wrong way at the start. He was chased home by Tony Morgan in an excellent 2:58:41.

There were sparkling PB’s for Howard, Mike Harris, Stuart Hamilton, Chris Green & Stuart Gibson. Tim managed a lie down in his race but still managed to get up again and run home in 3.11 – fantastic!

Tony Morgan, Dave Collins, Tim Pilkington & Mike Harris from the Men all achieved GFA for London if they want it. Whilst with the women both April Morgan & Annemarie Craven managed superb GFA ‘s and Jayne Taylor managed an amazing Championship qualifying 3:10:35. Time will tell whether everyone who qualified for London chooses to take up the option.

 

Blackpool

Whilst his colleagues were in London, Andy crept off to breezy Blackpool and attempted to blast his way into the prizes. Unfortunately some poor marshaling and strong winds scuppered Andy’s chances but he still walked away with an impressive 3:11 & GFA.

AndyRatcliffe

03:11:19 Andy Ratcliffe V45

 

London

Finally watched by many on the television and an impressive number out on the course, ten runners took on the challenge of the London Marathon.

The ladies…

03:14:00 Julie Platt V40
03:41:46 Nina Fisher V35

The men…

02:57:30 Mark Glynn V45
03:02:03 Chris Smullen V40
03:04:25 Chris Burgess
03:08:55 Barry Abram V50
03:17:21 Paul Bryers V35
03:36:22 Colin McEvoy V35
03:41:44 Jonathan Blackburn
04:06:26 Tony Foster V50

The reports….

Nina Fisher

Mark Glynn

Chris Burgess

Chris Smullen

Paul Bryers

All 10 runners acquitted themselves brilliantly. There were a healthy 5 PB’s for the men with a further PB for Nina. Julie Platt managed to achieve a superb championship entry time of 3.14. Nina, Mark, Chris S, Chris B & Barry all achieved GFA. Storming his way up the club records was Mark Glynn, now holding sub three hour marathon times in both the V40 & V45 categories.

It certainly looks likely that 2016 will see another bumper entry into both Manchester & London Marathons. They are both excellent events so whichever you are in you won’t be short of Harriers for company!

A few of my favourite marathon season pictures…

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So how does this leaves the club records for this year..

Club records 2015

 

And very importantly the all time records!

All time records

 

 

Manchester Marathon by Mike Harris & Dave Collins

Dave and myself ran the majority of the race together but with slightly (well very) different endings so our write ups are combined for ease of reporting. We are together in most of the photos!

It might be best if you settle down with a brew to read this one….

I had contemplated a road marathon for some time, coming close to entering Chester last autumn. I decided I would never feel there was a perfect time so took the plunge with Manchester. I had run four trail marathons but this would be the first on the road. Training started with a trio of road races to assess where I was at, 10 mile, 10k and half marathon. During this period I was struggling with a hamstring niggle. I had regular physio to ward off the aches but come race day that was the only real doubt in my mind.

I would have preferred to slot in a few tune up races into my training programme but it proved to be too tricky to slot them in. Assessing what pace to run at was difficult, shorter races are easier, you run hard and hang on in there. I decided to run with my regular racing partner Dave and target 7 min miling for as long as possible.

I took Tony Morgan’s advice on where to park and after a brief scare with a Closed Road sign I parked up and exchanged a quick hello with Tony, April and friends. The next hour or so was something I hadn’t really thought through. This was evident in me walking 10 minutes to the race zone without all my kit. I guess I just thought it was nearer but at least it kept me occupied. Thankfully I made early use of the sanitary facilities as the queues that developed were horrendous.

It was good to be around familiar faces before the race although Dave did describe me as a bad smell he couldn’t shift! Yes Dave I will remember this when we are running alongrside nettles at Harrock, revenge is usually a dish best served cold!

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The first mile felt a little hilly relative to the general flatness of the area. After two miles I got a hot spot on my right foot, slightly alarming as the one thing everyone always says is how fresh and good you feel in the opening miles. This little niggle needed forgetting quickly as there was plenty of work to come and besides Dave certainly wasn’t entertaining any grumbling.

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There was plenty of Harriers support on the course (thanks to everyone for the cheers, it was a great lift!) rather than usual faces of concentration, Dave and I provided as many smiles, waves, thumbs ups, shouts, high fives as was physically possible. Might as well enjoy the first half of the race, milk the crowd as much as possible because I knew somewhere along the way things might turn a little messy. After a few miles Howard popped up between us much to our shock. We assumed he was long gone but Howard being Howard had experienced a few navigational issues at the start, we encouraged him on not wanting to slow his progress towards a hopeful sub 3!

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We ticked the miles off trying not to go too fast, it’s really hard to throttle back. We ended up running the first 5 miles at 6.55, 5 seconds quicker than plan. Dave was tracking the 5 mile blocks and I was shouting the mile splits after each one. We eased back slightly but still managed 6.57 for the 2nd block of 5 and 6.58 for the third. My first wobble was at about at halfway, my right glute and hamstring was feeling tight and for the first time I felt like I was making some effort to maintain pace and rhythm.

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Things settled down again and it was just after a water station around 18 miles where the wheels started to come off. I gradually drifted back from Dave, not able to close the gap back up. It was around this point where we had some support from Paul, Julie and Darren. I tried to make an effort for the fans but it was starting to be a struggle. I kept an eye out for Waddy fearing a rollocking for slowing. He had said he would be at 18 miles but the silver fox was nowhere to be seen.

By 20 miles I was in the downward spiral. I no longer could see Dave and the runners were well spaced out. There was now starting to be a regular number of runners passing me but I kept digging deep trying to keep some pace. I wasn’t thinking about end times just trying to keep ticking over. Occasionally I passed some poor soul with cramp which gave small solace that at least I was still running.

Just past 21 miles I saw Jacqui and Dave ahead, I managed a quick wave which I figured Dave might allow in the circumstances. The next 5 miles was a gradual slowing, being overtaken by plenty of runners. I was expecting Jayne to come past and at around 23 miles she came alongside and in seconds was gone. I was slowing to a crawl. Every now and again I had a pulse of cramp shoot through various points of my legs. This was my real fear as I did not want to walk to the finish. The roadside was now littered with “roadkill” who had suffered this awful fate. I tried to breathe really deeply every time I felt it and it seemed to ward it off.

A brief highlight was managing to throw a water bottle in a roadside bin from 20 feet away, tiredness didn’t deaden those skills! Some swine had moved the 25 mile marker so my brain couldn’t cope very easily with there being a massive difference between sign and Garmin. I could see Old Trafford so I knew the end was coming but still the pace dropped. I say the pace dropped but at the time I didn’t really have a clue as I was ignoring my Garmin. The stadium disappeared behind other buildings which made my heart sink as I couldn’t see the finish. Suddenly mile 26 marker appeared and around this point the 3.15 pacer flew by with entourage. A sharp left turn and there was the bloody finish. Reality kicked in and for the first time in an hour I thought about my finish time. Could I cover that distance in the 45 seconds I had to get under 3.15? I should couldn’t get my head round it so I just tried desperately to pick the pace up. 3.14.45, talk about cutting it fine, I was very lucky to make it inside GFA.

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First road marathon, what did I learn? Plenty but nothing to put me off London 2016!

Mike.

Now over to my racing partner who did a much better job of the last six miles….

I think you pretty much know the story of my marathon since you spent a large part of it with me!

Obvious shared memorable moments were Howard appearing on our shoulder and the man with the flapping jacket. Once you’d abandoned me then two incidents stick in my mind. One is the 25 mile marker appearing at about 25.4 miles. I now remember that someone was holding it up and suspect that the idiot had moved it. At the time I had a trauma because I’d tried to stride out for home at what I thought was 25 miles (Garmin). A bit of mental arithmetic suggested I would now not hit my target time! The second incident is seeing Tim on the floor, but I’m sure that will be covered elsewhere.

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You know better than most that I seek comfort in my slower times by age-grading them. Well, this was my best ever age-graded marathon performance – better than my sub 3. Not sure if that is good though because it means that I will have to run relatively harder to ever see sub 3 again!

Dave

Final thought, Dave mentioned the man with the flapping jacket. Regardless of how ridiculous he looked he still beat me!   Mike.

 

Manchester Marathon by Stuart Gibson

It was a lovely day. I had a mind set to keep a pace of 10 minutes per mile and try to make it in under 4 and a half hours.

To begin with I felt good and did 9.30/9.40 minutes per mile. I did well until I hit the 17 mile mark; something just came over me to stop. My legs started to feel like jelly and I thought maybe a little stretch off would help and get me back into the marathon, but stopping was a bad idea. It threw me off my mind set and getting back into the run was very hard work. I kept moving and thought, “No I am going to do this”. I slowed my pace down to 12minutes per mile, then I saw the 4hour 30min pace setter pass me. I kept on pushing hard but my legs felt too heavy to keep up with the pace setter. I finished in 4 hours 47 minutes.

I loved the crew helping me push on with all their support (free sweets, always good). I’m already thinking of signing up again for next year.

 

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Manchester Marathon by Chris Green

I didn’t really sleep well so was awake before my alarm. I had breakfast and all prepared I got the wife to stick up my hair as she does it better at the back.

I picked up my friend Howard and put in the piss taking CD after last year of him slagging off my music it started off with Chariots of Fire then 1492 by Vangelis then rocky theme we went and picked Paul and his son and dropped his son off near Old Trafford. Howard jumped out and me and Paul had a nightmare with the parking couldn’t get to the official car park so ended up parking on the keys. We walked up to the start jumped over the barrier and into the start pen 2 minutes later we were off. Not the greatest of starts but at least we made it.

We set off and I was good I told me self to slow down and let people pass me first mile watch beeped and was 8 mins a mile exactly where I wanted to be. Me and Paul running and chatting Mile 2 turn round and up towards the start looking for fellow harriers on the way nearly 8 min mile again I left Paul and went a little faster but nothing to silly 7:45 pace was my plan it was good to see supporters who I knew as well as others in the club doing well tony was always in the lead followed by Tim then DC and Mike who ran together whenever I saw them.

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The front of the hair started to go at mile 3 didn’t get to fix it after the drive.

I ran nice and steady and consistent I was happy with my splits and got into nice routine I saw Cath at the relay change over point she gave me a massive cheer then I saw her husband further on as he had to go around the loop. The crowds were fantastic all the way around I spotted Darren Julie and Paul at 18 miles and got a great boost from them Julie is like the mother of the group always there.

Carrington is where it goes a bit quiet. And this is where I struggled my pace slowed the 3:29 pacer paced me I think he was to fast because at 20 miles my watch said 2:37. I couldn’t pick my pace back up I slowed and was almost at run walk stage at one point I stopped did my lace and set off again I managed to get pace back a little then I was up and down for the last 6 miles. I love the ending so many people cheering you on I spotted Howard and I went for it big sprint finish at the end chip time 3:35:47 not the 3:30 I wanted but massive improvement from Malaga (3:54:58) https://www.strava.com/activities/288584993

 

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Manchester Marathon – Tony & April’s report

This is the first in a series of articles highlighting the exploits of Wigan Harriers in spring Marathons. Paris, Manchester, Blackpool and London, we despatched record numbers of marathon runners to all four races in spectacular style. First up is the Morgan husband/wife combo Tony and April in marvellous Manchester.

The Morgan’s in Manchester!!

The day didn’t start well when my pre race drink had leaked and damaged my mobile phone and soaked my post race clothing but it was race day and time to focus on my Wigan Harriers debut.

I headed for the 5th row from the front in order to have a trouble free start whilst April started with the 3:15 pacer, at 09:00hrs the race was underway and I went through miles 1 & 2 in 6:30/6:28 min mile pace in order to find a clear run. April was sticking to the plan and seemed glued to the 3:15 pacer who was pacing perfectly.

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Both myself and April were right on target at 5k, 10k & HM, Altrincham was the halfway point so a run through the town centre and straight back out heading into mile 14 at this point ours paths crossed with April on her way into the town. Mile 14 was a really bad period when all those demons in my head where trying to destroy my marathon and telling me to stop!! At mile 15 Tim Pilkington came passed me and said are you ok Tony my reply was no Tim going through a bad moment. Tim soon became a distant figure and I continued the fight with my head but I was still some how managing 6:50 pace from miles 15 – 21.

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April had no issues with anything mentally for most of the 26.2 miles just a really bad group of runners with no idea of race etiquette constantly clipping heels and cutting up fellow runners to reach drinks but she still continued with the strong running mile after mile.

At mile 21 it was my turn to pass a club colleague and my turn to ask Tim Pilkington how he was feeling and the response was similar to mine, no problem I thought he will come through it over the next mile or so and probably pass me again. Miles 22, 23, 24 had me fading fast with each mile getting slower I managed to receive a bottle of water at 25 mile and a quick pour over the head got me back on track with Old Trafford in the distance and the Sub 3hr actually looking possible.

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I then entered Sir Matt Busby way and couldn’t focus on my watch and found it difficult to read the official race clock “did it say 2:57:58 or 2:59:58”, it was then that Howard Avery came flying past shouting come on Tony we can do this and then I noticed it was reading 2:58:20 and eventually finished in 2:58:41.

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Miles 21 – 25 for April were again right on target with the perfect pacing continuing and the sub 3:15 barrier was still achievable at this stage but it was at mile 26 that the 3:15 pacer and group started to move away at which point April could not respond and eventually crossed the finish line in 3:15:33 missing out on a new PB by 4 seconds and a Championship place at next years London Marathon by 34 seconds.

After the race we realised just how successful the day had been for the Morgan’s and everyone else at Wigan Harriers Endurance from those supporters, coaches and athletes.

Ps never run a marathon after interrupted training it’s too painful.

Tony & April

Manchester Marathon – Daves Full Report

After a few days to rest and recover, Dave has been able to put together a full report on his heroics in Manchester at the weekend:

The Greater Manchester marathon will certainly live long in my memory!

We had been keeping a close eye on the weather forecast all week, with strong winds and heavy rain forecast for Sunday, and rather pleasant conditions for the days either side. Given the forecasters track record, and inspired by a comment on the BBC to “watch this space”, I remained optimistic that the weather front would come through early, be delayed, or just deviate around Manchester. My worst suspicions were confirmed, however, when we pulled up at Sally’s house at 7.00 to be greeted by the first drops of rain; exactly on cue! 

Sally’s friends from Trafford soon arrived and there was some discussion about what we should be wearing. Having been coached in the Eccles and Waddington cross country school over the winter months, there was no decision to be made – vest and shorts were the order of the day, with the concession of a pair of “Magic” gloves. Sally was similarly adopting a minimalistic approach and so there was no way I was being shown up by a girl. Jayne meanwhile was kitting up for her duty on the bike as my mobile feeding station. 

We left in plenty of time to walk the mile and a half to the “Race Village” and arrived to a scene which had a tinge of Glastonbury about it; mud, rain, people in wellies! Everyone was loathe to get changed until the last minute which resulted in the now well reported chaos of the baggage drop; literally in this case! I abandoned Jayne with my bag and trudged to the start line in my Wigan MBC bin bag. A quick “relief” in direct contravention to the instruction not to use a “handy bush or tree” (only a non-runner could come up with that rule!), and I was climbing over the barriers to line-up with the sub-3 hour crowd. Another ominous sign was that Sean McMyler (who runs all year round in shorts) was wearing a tee-shirt over his vest and thought that he might keep it on for the first few miles. Everywhere I looked people were shivering and their teeth chattering. This really was worse than the cross country in Barrow! 

Now everyone has a pre-race strategy and I’m no different. I’d spent weeks saying that I was going to aim for 7 min miling. Then a few days earlier I noticed that there was going to be a 3 hour pacer, and I thought it might be an idea to hang on to him for as long as I could. This was seeming an even better bet now that the wind was gusting, since I could tuck in with the crowd. The 3 hour man was identifiable with a huge sail on his back – how on earth was he going to run with that in these winds? A few words from Ron and Darren and we’re off. I cross the line, set my Garmin going, check my pace for a few hundred yards and look up to see the man with the sail disappearing into the distance. Well there goes that plan! Undaunted, I settled into a nice steady 6.50 pace with a small group of runners. 

Old Trafford soon came and went, then we had a strange “about turn” around a cone and headed out of the industrial area and into the waiting crowds. I must say straightaway that the support around the course on that day was the best I have ever seen. People stood in the wind, rain and cold for hours on end and cheered the runners on. It was in these first few miles when I heard a father remark to his children that “These are the fast runners coming by”. And yes, he meant us – talk about a confidence builder! 

I had taken a couple of gels with me in one of those annoying gel belts, and was now looking for Jayne so that I could get rid of the thing and get my next gel. One blessing of the cold weather was that those “Tropical” gels which generally taste like wallpaper paste when warm, were actually quite palatable; or had I lost it already? A couple of false sightings (one an old man on a road bike who I had vigorously waved to from a hundred yards away), and then Jayne appeared on her faithful Trek with another tropical delight. “How’s it going?”. “Fine, just taking it easy”, I answer for the benefit of any runners who might be listening for signs of weakness. 

The first half of the course breezed by. Water stations, crowds, rain, a nasty little hill or two and then I’m over the timing mat in a highly satisfactory split of 1:29:45. This is where the fun really started. Fortunately, my study of the anticipated weather conditions had prepared me for turning into the rather strong winds, and I wasn’t disappointed. 

A deviation into Dunham Massey saw the race take on a multi-terrain feel as we initially picked our way round puddles, only to abandon this strategy and run straight through them, cross country style. Being in the first couple of hundred runners this part of the course hadn’t yet degenerated into the quagmire that it was to later become. Out on the road again, another gel form Jayne and head down up to Partington. 

By now the field had thinned out and the few of us who were together were trying to shelter behind the others. What would have been a lovely stretch of countryside running in warm spring sunshine became a fairly lonesome battle, and by now I had totally lost all feeling in my hands. One of the advantages of having your name printed on your race number is that you get lots of encouragement from the crowds. Unfortunately, you get used to people shouting your name and miss seeing people who you actually know. This almost happened as I was approaching the Rope and Anchor feed station. A couple looking remarkably like Dave Waddington and Jacqui Jones, and someone unmistakably sounding like Julie Platt were handing out gels! Despite shouting my name, I didn’t realise who it was until I was nearly upon them. What a welcome boost their encouragement gave me though. Up the road and more familiar faces in Mark Rogers and Kev Edwards who frightened the living daylights out of me as he leapt from under a tree at the side of the road. 

With 18 miles done and the worst of the weather still to come, you could see the race start to take its toll. I wasn’t going great but I passed runner after runner. Some had already resorted to walking, others were going at little more than a jog. I brought to mind a pre-race text that I had received from that greatly experienced marathon runner Barry Abram, to keep going when it gets tough, and I just got on with it.

The 20 mile mat nailed, on through Carrington and a left turn along the most exposed part of the course. At this point, it decided to hail and my legs seemed to go as cold as my hands. Whatever was “magic” about my gloves had long since been forgotten, as they seemed to be doing nothing but act as a sponge to the cold rain. I had declined another gel from Jayne, but said that I would have one of the Jelly Babies that Phil Derbyshire had sent for me. You cannot imagine how my spirits dropped when she told me that she had lost them. It was worse than knocking your pint over and there being a six deep queue at the bar. Absolutely gutted!

But the Marathon God who had abandoned Graham looked down on me, as Jayne realised that she hadn’t lost them afterall. The bag had burst and they had ended up in the lining of her water proof trousers! She managed to rescue six of the little blighters and offered one to me now. Unfortunately my hands were totally numb so I asked her to put it into my mouth for me. What a performance that was! 

One of the less good ideas of this race (and possibly others) was that if you signed up for a pacing group, you wore your pace time on your back. With 4 miles to go, there was now a number of runners appearing with 3:00 on their shirts. As any runner knows, your strength feeds off others (unfortunate) weakness, and these 3:00ers now became targets to keep me going. Into the last mile, even more encouragement from the brilliant crowds and a dawning sense of what an achievement it was to complete this race. Me and two other lads got together at this point, had an “It’s a Knockout” moment as we were directed through the underpass, but then we resurfaced and could hear the announcer and knew that the end was near. A last “sprint” to the line as I heard my name and that of Wigan Harriers over the tannoy, and my watch was stopped in a little under 3:07. I decided that I would settle for that! 

Foil blanket on to save me from hypothermia ( and I am serious about that!), medal round neck, banana pushed in to hand and off to find Jayne and my bag. I could write another chapter about what was to follow – as could many other people – but just two final words of thanks. First to Maria Lowe, who peeled my banana for me, when my fingers wouldn’t work, and hers were only in marginally better order. And finally, to Jayne who supported me on her bike all day in absolutely atrocious conditions and got soaked to the skin herself. Her pièce de résistance involved untying my trainer laces with her teeth because neither of us had any feeling in our fingers!!! 

You may do the Manchester marathon in the future, but I am sure (hope) that you will never have to do it in those conditions. A race I will never forget.