By John Grimshaw
The last in a series of races for a while (Blaydon race is my next big one) brought me the biggest 10k in Europe with upwards of 35,000 competitors .
It included Haile Gebrselassie’s last competitive race, as it happens he came 16th and then joined in the last wave and ran it again! A legend!
The weekend included, as well as the race, the Manchester City games, this had a number of top athletes competing on raised platforms on the streets of the city. I had seen it on the TV when it was on at Newcastle but watching from the front of the crowd ‘up close and personal’ and also looking up at the athletes gives a completely different perspective! The stars included a reunion with Jess Ennis-Hill in her comeback race! (She came third out of 4 in the 100m hurdles) but must have been relieved just to get the first one out the way! Also Greg Rutherford another of the gold winning athletes I was lucky enough to see at the London Olympics on that golden Saturday.
The race on Sunday was quite a late start with the assembly area opening at 10am for the Orange wave. I arrived early to get a good position. I managed to get a few hundred from the front with only the elite/celeb and fast passed club runners in front which meant I crossed the line within 18 seconds of the main race starting!
The wheelchair race started at 10:55, with elite women at 11:12! They actually started 5mins late, before the main race including my orange wave at 11:38!
Waiting for the start I was spotted by a Heaton Harrier (Dave) so we passed the time with a pleasant chat. He was planning to also run in the last wave with his daughters if he could find them! That is after he had ran in the first wave!
The race is a out and back race with a loop around old Trafford and passing coronation street set. It was well signpost with Km markers and 400/200m to go at the end. A mainly flat fast course with a couple of slight inclines/descents. Also there were timing points at 3K/5K/8K. The disadvantage of starting at the front was the tendency to set off too fast, I didn’t disappoint! Having spoken to Dave (Heaton Harriers) he had ran the route before, I knew he was a bit faster than me, so I wished him well at the start and didn’t try to run with him.
I did manage 13:26/3k, 22:59/5k and 37:26/8k and I can say the second 5k was a bit of hanging on, the weather was quite kind, not too warm and no rain so just club vest and shorts.
There was a large and encouraging crowd all the way around the course with the usual selection of local bands playing there hearts out, two water stations and a run through shower. Although being passed by someone walking was a little disheartening until I realised he must have been 6’7″+ and looked like a pro walker!!
Due to it being an in/out race route the 2/9k and 3/8k markers were close on either side of the road so we could see the elite women pass us in the opposite direction around the 8-9 marker!
The last 400m the crowds got significantly large and louder, by the finish I was really holding on crossing the line on 47:06 which when adjusted for the chip timer a finish of 46:48! This is a season best and only a minute of my PB off last year…. Getting there!
After the finish there was first aid, the BBC, (I waited for an interview but they obviously didn’t recognise me!) then you went past a water point continuing down the street was your goodie bag, you could eventually get out at the end of the street, meeting my GF due to the amount of people was a challenge and took about 25mins!
All in all I think it is a race I will do again and recommend highly.