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Race Reports

Manchester Marathon Race Report - Michael Royden

On Sunday 8 April a number of intrepid DRRs (myself, Jo Clancy, Robbie Dunlop, Scott James, Matt Hooper, Sarah Wenn and Tom Fardon) ran the Greater Manchester Marathon, billed as the flattest and the friendliest in the U.K.
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The day started at Old Trafford Cricket Ground, with a pretty efficient registration. Then off to the start, with just under 10,000 runners being set off by the amazing Dr Ron Hill. Conditions through the race were ideal, no more than 10 degrees and no wind.
Although crowded at the start, the fairly wide course meant that we all had plenty of space after a mile or two and we settled into a pace. The route ran from Salford out through a number of suburbs such as Sale before doing a loop through Altrincham and eventually taking us back upon ourselves.
Compared to my first marathon last year in Stirling, I felt more controlled through Manchester. I walked quite a few chunks towards the end of Stirling, whereas this year only walked 30 secs at a water station around Mile 18. I had set myself a range of paces to try to achieve a particular time, and at the halfway point near Altrincham I was within that time and feeling ok.
The pacer who I was trying to keep ahead of (3:30) suddenly appeared around Mile 15, and towards 20 he gradually eased away, not to be caught. However, by then I knew that I was quite a bit faster than Stirling, and felt strong enough to just keep going until the finish line. I was delighted to finish in 3:36:14, knocking 11 minutes off Stirling and achieving my second Silver Standard this year. The finish straight seemed endless, but by the time I reached 800m to go I was delighted with the time, finishing with a ridiculous grin on my face!
As for flattest, it wasn't pancake flat but there was very little elevation compared to our normal SLRs.
Friendly? Absolutely! From start to finish the crowds were unbelievable, including those who spent most of the day reading runners' names from their bibs and shouting encouragement, particularly as we headed back into the centre. There are too many crowd highlights to mention but most memorable for me were:
Manchester rock choir
The two ladies handing out ice pops at mile 23
The guy dressed head to toe in white, wearing angel wings, and singing/dancing on the way out and back - we think he was fresh out of a club in the morning
The numerous people who just got their sounds out into the street and blasted music at us
My favourite - Manchester Glee Choir at one of the big junctions - I have never grinned so much after running 20+ miles as when I heard them, and we exchanged waves which spurred me on.
AND of course our own DRR supporters who stood by the roadside to cheer us on as we passed.

Less welcome was the little girl who turned to her dad as I passed them at mile 8 and said "So dad, are there STILL 18 miles to go?"
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The whole event was incredibly well organised, with the bag drop issues from the past fixed, and all of the runners were fairly quickly though the finish area to meet friends and family, then off to celebrate their achievement. As for the DRR contingent, rumours of us ending the night in a Rum Bar may just be true, but we were very restrained of course!
All in all, the Greater Manchester Marathon 2018 was a fantastically enjoyable event, and people looking for a Spring 2019 marathon would do far worse than consider giving Manchester a go.

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