‘Well that was brutal,’ said the voice behind me as we poured over the Deansgate finishing line, dripping with sweat and never so grateful to accept bottled water.
The Great Manchester 10k was great indeed. Not because it expertly marshalled an astonishing 40,000 runners through the city’s roads with friendly but firm organisation. Not because there’s an opportunity to grab PBs (if there is you’ve got tougher legs than mine) but because of the people who are running and the people who line the streets.
At the starting holding area I’m surrounded by hundreds in my zone, green, and we’re warming up with some bloke on a gantry, waving our arms in the air, doing our squats, wiggling about getting all those muscles engaged. At this point I already have cramp in my toe but apparently there isn’t a warm up exercise for that.
I can see Scoobydoo and Spiderman and I’m feeling nervous but calm. Then the flaming opera singer comes on and starts belting out Wind Beneath My Wings. And that’s me – flamin crying. of course I’m mostly looking at the back of a girl in front of me who’s ‘running for’ sign says she is running in memory of her mother and has a picture of them together, decorated with flowers and bows and glitter. And there’s something charmingly childlike about it, even though she’s clearly in her 20s, like she’s been whisked back in time in the making of it…
And then we’re off. Funnelled down gates to give us room to run and I’m like a whippet out the traps and I look at my garmin and realise I’m running at nine-minute mile pace and I need to slow down, because it’s hot. Really hot. I don’t run well in hot.
The sun breaks through the clouds and the crowds thin and we make our way towards Old Trafford. Special highlights of the journey round:
* The man who cheered me on just past the ground, like he thought I was doing something amazing
* The women running in relay, pushing a man in a wheelchair
* The bands, all great and utterly cheering and an excellent way to dull the sound of 40,000 wheezing runners
* Spotting Cain Dingle DJing, playing All Around the World by Daft Punk as I passed
* The charities who turned out to cheer on their fundraisers
* The singing police woman belting out Disco Inferno (I think, she was great, i was zoning out a bit here).
* Having to go to the loo which never happens usually (turned the garmin off, I am not having my loo break count against my time – end of!)
* The waves of nausea – had to slow down occasionally for fear of vomiting on people
* Having to walk occasionally (again, this never happens either)
* Being too hot – for a 5am runner 12noon is the Gobi Desert
* Thinking a couple of jelly babies would be a good idea. All moisture sucked out of mouth, more nausea
* Being overtaken by two smurfs. Though I did hear a woman in the crowd turn to her mate and say ‘No I am not cheering smurfs’ Why do smurfs annoy people?
Excellent goodie bag. Limited edition T-shirt (yeah, me and 40,000 others) designed by Peter Saville (designer at Factory records and all-round Manchester feted person), medal with purple ribbon, bottle of blue sports drink (oddly pleasant), two energy bars (yum) and some pistachios.
This is a brilliant run if you’re running with your mates but OMG it’s massive and emotional. There are hundreds of people out there celebrating the memory of loved ones, it’s an incredible celebration of love. I saw people running for every charity imaginable – from street children to hospices to cancer research to building facilities for nurseries.
My time, with loo break taken out: 1:10:04
I thought it was a tough course – not so much steep hills as rises that go on forever and the Old Trafford section is desolate without the lovely people who came out to cheer. Would I do it again – oh yes.
And even though I’m home and about to go out for a curry with MrM you can still sponsor me if you want to. I’m raising money for student scholarships at the university where I work, to help people who struggle to pay for education.