Blue Runnings

Race Reviews, GPX files and more from North-East England

Great Manchester Run

on 11 May 2015

great-run-largeI booked the Great Manchester Run at the start of the year when I was trying to fill my calendar with at least one event a month to try and give myself something to aim for through the year and keep me getting my trainers on. P & I were originally going to book a weekend in Manchester and do it together, but it was booked before he went onto shift – and typically his first day shift was the same as the run, so rather than knocking myself out trying to drive down (and parking in Manchester centre when half the roads are shut?! No thank you!), I booked the train down and back and headed off after dropping P off at work.

Getting to Manchester was no problem at all, unsurprisingly the trains are rather empty at 9am on a Sunday morning, and knowing where I was going to get to the race start and the baggage drop off – and how to get round the busy race start zone to get to the bag drop at the other end really helped too! The first wave was heading off just as I got to the race area, and I had to actually cross the race route after they’d passed to get to where I was going. I’ve not used the baggage drop services at a race before really – I left my waterproof behind at the baggage place at the Thirsk 10, but that was it. I was a bit iffy about leaving my bag in the room – there wasn’t any real control or labelling, only people with race numbers were allowed in but that was it. Being a paranoid android, I had my phone, wallet and keys in a waist pouch with me and just left a change of clothes and book behind in my backpack.

Start Line

Start Line

When I signed up for the race at the start of the year, the last 10k I’d done was the Kielder 10k which took me just over 1h12 in October, and I’d logged my expected time accordingly between 1h10 and 1h15, which put me in the pink wave – the last to leave. When my ticket arrived (having forgotten all of this), and hoping for a time nearer the 1h mark I thought about seeing if I could move up a wave using my Tyneside 10k time as evidence, but decided that with the pink wave leaving last at 13:30 it was more convenient for my trains. As it happened, I got there and had sorted all my stuff out with ample time to spare so could have left in the earlier wave (green?) if they’d ok’d my changing.

There were 40,000+ people at the event apparently, I suspect most of them had left by the time the pinks moved to the start line, but there were still several thousand even then! Many were running for charity, a few in fancy dress! I didn’t envy the giraffe at all… The start line is past the arch of orange and green balloons right in the distance…

unnamed

Unsurprisingly, it took a long time to get this many runners through the start line let alone the route – I know at the finish the timer for the pink wave was 10 minutes over my watch and chip time, so it took me 10 mins to get to the start after the gun had gone off, and I was probably about 2/3’s back rather than right at the back! I found it a bit odd to be just loitering around for ages on my own before this, I wasn’t really feeling it and yawning before you’re supposed to be running 6 miles is never a good sign! I think part of it was knowing that P & I were going to be doing this together originally, and we both lived in Manchester for several years so it felt weird getting out at Picadilly train station and wandering around without him there.

When I did finally get across the start line, it took me about 3-4km to get the irritation out of my system…the biggest issue I had with starting with the pink wave, was that I was starting with the charity casual runners – many of whom were very gentle joggers or walkers. I think if I’d been doing it as a fun run or with people, it wouldn’t have bothered me at all, but just wanting to get round and only a few weeks before thinking I might have a shot at beating my Tyneside time and having my first ever sub-60 10k, it was a nuisance. I was constantly weaving round or through groups of people who kept randomly slowing or filling the whole road in lines chatting. Definitely more of a giant fun run than a racing event. When I got down to Old Trafford, I’d passed many of the walkers and was going round with the slow and steady joggers, which by that point suited me fine as it had got very humid and I felt like my face might explode – I’m sure I must have looked like a jogging tomato!

By the time I got to the 5k mark, I was just concentrating on getting round, and much like my brief jog the other day was feeling sluggish and heavy footed and just wanted to get round. I’d head for the next km marker chanting to myself the one I’d just passed. Normally I’d tell myself which one I was heading for, this one I was telling myself how far I’d already done.

The charity cheerers, general public, and bands along the route were great – cheering everyone on and the jelly babies from the Manchester Evening News guys at the 8km mark were very welcome (I love jelly babies as a race snack – you can keep your expensive gels!), the last km was a real slog of just-get-through-it effort but I made it round with no walking in a final time of 1:06:17 according to the chip results, putting me in position 17583 – and nowhere near last!

manchester timemanchester split

Out of 40k+ people and considering I’ve hardly been out for 2 weeks, I think that’s ok 🙂

I grabbed my goody bag at the end, headed back to the baggage holding area to get my bag and get changed and then headed back to Picadilly to grab some food and get to the train station to get my train back. It took longer to get through the throng of people to get all this sorted, and I’d thought the pink wave was leaving at 13:00 not 13:30 so it was tighter than I’d expected getting my train, but I still got there ok having sorted everything I wanted to.

When I got home, Rosie helped me investigate the contents of my loot bag, which I hadn’t done on the way home as the bag seemed rather full.

manc shirt

The T-shirt is ok, but with it not being a technical one will probably not get worn, the Rozzle seemed to like it anyway. The other contents of the loot bag, the race being sponsored by Morrissons, were a weird mix of groceries…again that I probably won’t use…anyone for noodles?!

P1010165

For the cost of the run, off memory it was about £40/entry, plus the £50 train fare this run was not worth it for me. Doing it on my own, particularly when not really in the mood for it, for a pack of noodles is a bit steep… I think for the charity fundraiser’s it’s a good one, there’s a lot of great opportunities for publicity and camaraderie, but for a lone runner who likes her space when she’s running…not so much. I usually love the energy of the big runs, but this one was just way too big for me.

great manchester run

You can download the GPX data for this course from my Dropbox account by clicking the link below:

GPX data on Dropbox

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