A marathon in the making…
Ever wondered what it really takes to make a marathon come together?
I had my very first introduction to a marathon exactly 15 years ago, when my mum ran the London Marathon (2002). I vividly remember every tiny detail of that weekend. Dad, Mum, myself and my 3 brothers and 2 sisters piled onto the National Express Coach at ridiculous o’clock on the Saturday morning. As a moody 18 year old, the last thing I really wanted to do was spend the entire weekend with my (then annoying) family. I was in my first year of Uni and lived for the weekends with my friends. I begrudgingly went nonetheless and endured the weekend for the sake of mum, who despite only ever being able to train around our 20ft back garden, managed to run in just under 5 hours.
Fast forward 15 years and it should have been my turn to stand on the starting line at the Manchester marathon. Some of you may remember a post I wrote Suffering setbacks a couple of months ago. A hamstring tear signalled the devastating end of my marathon journey-well for Manchester anyway.
I’m incredibly grateful to Becks and her team at http://breatheunity.com/ who kindly arranged with Gus from at http://www.greatermanchestermarathon.com/ team, Simon and Ali at http://www.xtramileevents.com/ for me to be involved in the day.
MAKING THE MARATHON HAPPEN…
All I can say is I will NEVER again take a race for granted. Actually, what I have come to learn is that turning up and running is the easy part! The sheer magnitude involved in making an event like this happen is staggering. It literally takes a small army with the utmost of military precision to allow an event like this to take place.
From the closing of the roads, to the delivery of the portoloos, the set up of the control rooms, to the packing of the medal goodie bags…
I met the team at 5am Sunday morning and there was plenty to do. I did feel pretty nervous having the job of looking after the elites, especially when they all began to arrive at 7.30am onwards. True to form, they were the most humble and lovely bunch of runners ever. I had a great chat with Steve Way, the UK British record holder for the 100km. He admitted “I’ve had a horrendous cold for the past 2 weeks and I know this won’t be one of my best performances.” Clearly, not someone to let anything get in the way, he still came in at a great time of around 2.40! I think elite athletes must have a certain pre-race mindfulness technique, as there was a very serene atmosphere throughout the tent and any nerves were very well masked as they psyched themselves up to go to the start line.
On your marks…
Less than 15 minutes after the start gun was fired, we ran across to the 3k mark to see the leaders flying by-the speed was unbelievable. The atmosphere was incredible and the people of Manchester were out in full force to support.
An hour into the race and I was taken for a sneaky peek at the live TV in the crew room and watched the men head to head at the 11 mile mark. It was an incredible sight.
Simon, the head honcho of Xtra Mile Events, allowed me to gain a real insight into the live operation taking place in the control rooms, situated in the Town Hall. On one side were the team intensely working away on the traffic and road control and on the other side, the emergency services and events organisers ensuring the process was a smooth one. It was like being on a film set. Simon explained that these races are actually a good year in the making. “As soon as today is over, we will be starting to plan and organise next year’s event.” I can totally see why. Everything from printing names on the race packs, to coordinating commentators, media team, the marshals, volunteers and physio teams. It all takes mega organisation.
I was lucky enough to be behind the cameras and media as the winner Patrick Martin crossed the finish line. He looked as though he hadn’t even broken a sweat, let alone just run 26.2 miles!
Meeting the legend himself: Dr Ron Hill
There are no words to describe this moment…
Meeting the running legend Ron himself, was a truly unforgettable moment. The most gentle and humble person ever. I was so privileged to have been asked by Gus and Becks to be involved in the prize giving and Ron deserved nothing less that a lifetime achievement award for his contribution to the running community.
This was a very emotional day, from almost carrying a 6ft man (legs had gone to jelly), to meeting some amazing people such as Joe from https://twitter.com/UKRunChat?lang=en and so many other fabulous members of the running community, it was a day never to be forgotten. There was even a marriage proposal at the finish line!
I shed a few tears on the drive home, as the emotions were pretty overwhelming, but what I have taken away from the experience is the relentless grit that both organisers and runners really have. It has reaffirmed more than anything my desire to run a marathon in my hometown and I know that this time next year, I’ll be on the other side of the line.
Next time you are at a race and something isn’t necessarily ‘perfect’ do spare a thought for the people who devote their lives to make races such as these happen for us runners. These are the people who deserve medals!
For anyone who ran this marathon and maybe planning on running future marathons, don’t forget to start taking your CurraNZ supplements. They REALLY DO REDUCE DOMS! Read more here Top tips for repair and recovery from injury!
With huge thanks again to the organisers who made this happen and to you amazing runners who bring much joy to lives! Proud to be part of such a positive and genuine community. Don’t forget you can show your appreciation to the team by voting on the link http://www.greatermanchestermarathon.com/running-awards! Let’s smash it Manchester!