Report from Richard Smith
A trip to the red half of Manchester was the order of the day for the 2015 Asics Greater Manchester Marathon. This race advertises itself as ‘the fastest marathon in the UK’ and with 54 ft elevation, its a PB minefield.
Race conditions were a runners dream; over-cast, cool and calm. Approximately 8000 runners took up the starting position on Bridgewater Way, preparing for the gruelling 26.2 mile showdown ahead. From a personal perspective, despite issues in the last 2 weeks, I had trained hard from mid January and planned to stick with my dream; to achieve a sub 3 hour marathon. The race strategy was to lurk behind and around the sub 3 hour pacer, to try and stick with him for 20 miles and make sure I had enough left in the tank for the notorious final 10K.
Although not a wonderfully scenic course, the friendly atmosphere and support more than made up for it with enthusiastic choirs, bands, and screaming supporters displaying banners such as ‘Why do all the cute ones get away?’, ‘You’re running through my mind’ (and a couple more which are probably not appropriate for comment). Other than the rural section at Carrington, the support was constant.
Having settled into my stride around the sub 3 pacer I found myself positioned within a large pack of runners which really helped the miles to tick. However, it did mean that oncoming hazards were difficult to spot such as cones, islands and fellow runners of course. This inevitably slowed things down in narrow sections but helped to maintain my race strategy and not charge ahead. I passed the half marathon mark in 1:29:41 and having passed 20 miles in 2:16:13 felt comfortable and tried to press on. By mile 23-24 the ‘group dynamic’ had changed to every man for himself. I was hurting. Really hurting. And I knew it was going to be close to that sub 3. With hot, blistered feet and burning thighs, I gritted my teeth, tried to keep my discipline, pump my arms (thanks Jamil) and visualise that finish line. Once I got to mile 25, I saw Old Trafford ahead which gave me added incentive and I pushed on, before turning the final corner onto Sir Matt Busby Way. Here, I managed a final sprint (hobble) to cross the finish line in a time of 2:58:37 to record an 11 minute PB! I was initially overwhelmed before being promptly mobbed by several strangers. A considerable number of group man hugs were shared!
Other finishers were Tom Potter, who, despite being disappointed with his performance still recorded a PB of 3:17:27, the first of many to come. Next in was Andy Webster also finished in a strong 3:36:13 and finally Ralph Haughton, who had a fantastic run to finish 22nd V60 in 3:48:36 and worth noting that he passed 441 runners from mile 20 to the finish line.
All in all, a fast, flat and friendly marathon which I’d highly recommend. Good luck to all at London.
Winners and Otley results below. Full results here.
|Pos||Name||Cat||Cat Pos||10 Kilometres||Half Marathon||20 Mile||Chip Time|