It’s a marathon, not a sprint (pt 1)

Updated: Apr 26, 2019

Have you ever thought about doing a marathon and then immediately dismissed the idea as nonsense? In this short series of blogs, we look at some of the spring marathons Datchet Dashers members have run and talk to some of them about their experiences and (hopefully) help you decide if running a marathon is for you and if so, which one. Manchester Bella Shah gives her thoughts on Manchester 2019; I was disappointed 2 years ago not to be able to run Manchester marathon due to injury, I did however go and support that year which was a great experience. As a spectator, it was easy to get from one spot to another on the well-placed trams so there were opportunities to see friends running throughout the 26.2 mile route.  I wanted to return and run though as it was one I’d wanted to do. The “fast, flat “ course was appealing as well as the friendly northerners en route and so April 2019 saw me heading towards Manchester. A large group of us ventured up north, taking a train from Euston which was only a 2 hour journey. We stayed near Salford Quays... a walk to the start and from the finish. Getting to the start was straight forward and organisation with bag drop, toilets all being conveniently placed.  We started off in waves too so it was quite well structured. It felt bigger than I remembered with around 20,000 runners taking part. The roads did feel quite congested at times with some weaving in and out but there were areas where runners spaced out. The route is not the most exciting one as there are not any “sights” to see but nonetheless the support was amazing throughout. Spectators lined the streets with lots of shouts of encouragement. I have to say though.... it isn’t totally flat... it’s not hilly either but there are some undulations. The water stops were well placed with sports top bottles and easy to carry which was perfect. The finish was a welcome sight and the distance back to the bag drop was thankfully very close!   The meet up area was a bit congested but the pint of alcohol-free beer was very well received. The large medal and T shirt were worn with pride at the end ... not much else in the goody bag.. but that was fine by me. The supporters were happy too saying the streets were less congested than London and so it was easy to spot us but the trams were very busy getting around. All in all I would recommend this as a Spring marathon. It will be interesting to see what next year brings with a new route through the town. I might sign up for the relay event as an alternative option! 😊 As Bella mentioned, it wasn’t just a marathon distance undertaken by Dashers in Manchester.  There was a two and four person relay along the same course and eight dashers headed up the M6 to take part and here Gillian Richards gives her thoughts on the relay: Having waved off the marathon runners, our first leg teammates searched for their start line while we dashed to the nearest tram stop, dodging the runners as we crossed their path.  Alighting in a Mancunian suburb with no directional signage, we eventually found the marathon route.  Again having to cross the path of runners, twice, to reach our changeover point.   Arriving moments before Steve Hartigan ran over the line, it took as long on public transport as it did for Steve to run 10.8miles.  There was no rest for Alan Dray before he took off for his 15.5mile leg and it wasn’t long until Susannah Cleary, Lucinda Longster and Isabel Carron came bounding into the sports ground so Angie Hannigan, John Hayes and I could head off to complete the 26.6mile route. The distance of the two legs wasn’t made clear in the pre-run material and we were still trying to find details during Bella’s Pizza Express pre-run meal on the Saturday evening.  I did feel for the runners for whom this longer run came as a surprise as well as those who trained for their first half marathon but were stopped at 10.8. Crowds on the course were incredibly supportive with their cheering, generous with sweets and water, and creative with homemade signs.  ‘Don’t trust a fart after mile 20’ raised a smile and offered excellent life advice.  The best support came from Timperly village where it seemed every resident was on the street supporting the runners, followed closely by Bracknell Forest with vocal support for their TVXC rivals at almost every mile.  Running past other runners is a wonderful feeling and I highly recommend starting a run when everyone around you has already been pounding the street for over an hour!    Having to cross streets in front of runners is never ideal but was unavoidable in Manchester.  As for timing, the official clock had both Lucinda and I out by 20 minutes compared to our watches.   Would I recommend this event to the dashers? Probably not but if you do decide to do it, check the organisation of the relay and the distances each person will run. At least it didn’t rain