On Sunday the 6th of April, Tim McCarthy of Eagle AC traveled to Manchester to take part in the marathon. This is his report…
My Manchester Marathon…by Tim McCarthy
After the highs of doing my first marathon in Dublin last year, I got a brain wave to go and do another one in the spring. I saw that the Greater Manchester Marathon was on in April and it was advertised as ‘the flattest, fastest and friendliest marathon in the UK’. That sounded great so off I went and booked it in early December. Initially it seemed as if no-one from the club was going so I persuaded a friend of mine Maurice Feehan from home to come along so I wouldn’t be on my own. I started training in late December under the guidance of John Desmond and my ever reliable running partner Elaine Guinane and before I knew it, it was the start of April and the race was here and I was feeling fit.
I met Kevin Sievewright and his wife Fleur Dixon at the airport and I knew that Helena Power was going so Eagle AC was going to be well represented. When we landed we went straight to Old Trafford to get our numbers and we were a bit disappointed that we had to queue up in the rain and that there was no expo. We then made our way to our hotel in Media City which is about 10mins walk from Old Trafford. We spent a bit of the day in the Lowry shopping centre and got an early night for the day after.
The morning of the race we headed off from the hotel at about 8am and when we got to Old Trafford, there was a warm up going on in full swing by two people from the show Gladiators. I dropped my bag to the baggage area and headed for the start line, where along the way I met Ron Hill and asked him “Where was the Eagle AC singlets that I ordered last January???” ;o)
At the start line I sat in behind the 3:30 pacers and noticed that there were very few running with club colours and that most people were running for some kind charity. Nobody was chatty, maybe they were as nervous as me? Ron Hill was introduced to the crowd and he started the race and we were off at 9am.
Around 6,000 ran in the marathon/relay with thousands of people lining the course to cheer us on. The race is through the south of the city, taking us along Bridgewater Way, before leading us west to Trafford Wharf Road opposite Salford Quays. We then turned around and headed south through Gorse Hill, Stretford and Brooklands, reaching the halfway point around Altrincham. After several miles of going back on ourselves (from 9 to 16.5 miles) we then headed into the countryside from 19 to 22 miles towards Carrington. I remember seeing here at the 20mile timing mat, a kid with a sign saying “Pain is temporary but your timing splits are forever” which I managed to giggle at, through my pain. Then there was the brutal final straight stretch (with Old Trafford in the distance resembling County Hall… never getting any closer) back towards Sir Matt Busby Way to the finish line. There was huge support over the last few miles and they were very encouraging saying your name as it was printed on our number… unless your name is ‘Maurice’ which they had great difficulty saying :o)
Overall the route was a very flat, fast route with the only real climb coming just before the half way mark with a 60ft climb over a mile that you ran back down when you turned around. The route map can be seen here http://www.mapmyfitness.com/routes/fullscreen/111929753/.
The race was won by Andi Jones who finished in 2 hours 17mins and Emily Wicks was the first female to cross the line at 2 hours 38mins. I got to within a couple of feet of these athletes during the race when I was going through mile 9-10 but they were on the other side of the road at the 16 mile mark and they were going at some speed and well out in front of the competition.
I would definitely recommend this race if you want a marathon PB and the support on the course is very similar to Dublin. The only negative I would have against it are the two sharp turn around points that are in the first three miles. One of the turns was a cone in the middle of the road and the race was over for some people as they were tripped with the crowd. That would be the only thing really.
As it turned out, I didn’t beat my Dublin time and I finished in a time of 3:48. I had a difficult last 10 miles with cramp and walked a lot. When I finished the race I hated the place, the race, the supporters and everything about it but as this week has gone by and my pains have eased my opinion has changed, I would do this race again but differently the next time…