So what do you get when you combine the wet streets of Manchester with 38,000 people running round them? Well I’m just going to say it, you get the Great Manchester 10km Run! And what a run it was.
While I’m very conscious of the fact that a 10km run doesn’t quite fit in with half marathons, coast to coast treks and volcano climbs, the Great Manchester Run has become such an iconic event not only within the city, but within the running community. Attracting nearly as many people as the London Marathon, the Manchester 10km was an event I couldn’t say no to.
My very good cousin Lara has somehow been roped into running this race each year with me (no, I really just sign her up and tell her that she owes me the entry fee without even asking her – family eh?), and this year she did not disappoint. Our training wasn’t scheduled, nor was it planned, so neither of us really knew exactly how the day would turn out. But what a day it was – even though a little grey in its initial outlook.
My usual pre-race rituals had taken place – hearty breakfast, cold blast of the shower to make sure my body is fully awake and right good dance to some favourite tunes and I was ready to go. After Lara & I got into town, we flew by Sarah & John’s house, as they kindly helped with kit security while we were running, and then we took our places…..in the orange wave. After a social media vote via facebook, it was decided that Jerusalem was going to be the pre-race song. Needless to say it was a great opener for us, a real “British” start to the race. Then it happened. The gun went. And we were off.
First and foremost, Lara Hills is a force to be reckoned with. Not only did she get a shout out from a 7 year old lad in the crowds, she also managed to keep us both at a relatively hardcore pace for the first half of the race. In the run up to 5km, I loved seeing the guys who clearly hadn’t been to the loo, and after such excitement of the race, had to pee in hedges outside luxury car providers but 2 kilometres into the race.
The race took in some of the great iconic institutions of Manchester; Bridgewater Hall, Old Trafford, The Quays, finishing at the foot of Beetham Tower – the tallest residential building outside of London, and also home to the Hilton Hotel and Cloud 23.
As we got to Old Trafford something happened. I don’t know what, and I can’t explain it, but something hit me. My legs didn’t want to play ball, my body and it’s cardiovascular capacity started to diminish – basically things weren’t looking good. By the time we got to km 7, Lara and I had the conversation we’ve had so many times, which she’d always ignored. But this time she finally took my advice of “just bloody get going, I’ll be fine, you get your time”. So that little badger was off, and good on her I say.
I’m sure you can start to see where this story might be headed. By km 9 and only having about 30 seconds to complete it in order to hit 50 mins, (the target I’d stupidly told everyone about) I knew that I wasn’t going to hit my original target. But there’s always been something in me, that even if I can’t hit my target, I’ll sure as hell do my best to get as close to it as I can. The last 800 metres were great, as I slowly sped up. By the time I got to 400 metres I was off, with the last 200 metres flying by.
54:06 was my final finish time. Yes I was gutted. I wanted to be under 50 minutes. I’d set my goal of hitting 50 minutes. I really felt like I’d let not only myself down, but I’d let my brother down. I know it sounds weird to say, but I found it really difficult to hold back the tears as I crossed the finish line.
I felt that I had failed him.
Once I’d composed myself, and stopped being so self-indulgent, I realised that I hadn’t failed anyone. I’d beaten my PB of 54:36, and that I’d completed challenge 5 of 21. Also, I had anticipated such an event where I’d not completed my target goal. In the event that I didn’t hit my target, I set myself a penalty of £10 for every minute over the target time. So while I didn’t finish in time, the 21:21 fund is now £40 better off from my slower than hoped running. Every cloud and its inevitable silver lining.
While the Manchester 10km didn’t push the boundaries of my physical & mental ability like the other events, it reminded me of the true meaning of taking part in such events. Also it reminded me what it means to reach your goals with the support of the people around you. In addition to Lara running with me, there were a number of other people close to me also taking part in the 10km. As I’d mentioned in a previous post, a big up to Chris, Matt & Vicky for completing the 10km also. Top work guys.
Speaking of top work, I have to highlight the work on a particular guy. I don’t know his name, but his work has to be noted. There was a guy who took part in the race, whose number I don’t know, not even his name. But when you see the photo below, you’ll know why I have a lot of respect for him. Yes, he did run as you see him.
Targets, times and the lycra shorts aside, the day was a reminder of how great sport can be at bringing together vast groups of people together. Professional athletes, charity runners, keep fit fanatics, people running for leisure & people achieving their goals. Whatever the reason for taking part, it was just so phenomenal to see such a huge amount of people together in Manchester.
It made me really proud to live in such a city.
While we complain about the weather, it’s a city filled with passion, pride and promise. It’s pushed the boundaries of normal for centuries; from the industrial revolution, through to its innovative inventions, and its world class football & music, Manchester has proven itself as the place to be.
Help for Heroes [21:21] Challenge