Monday, 20 April 2015

Manchester Marathon Half & Half Relay

My mate Sheila ran her first half marathon at the Great North Run last year and was keen to do another. In my year of non-marathon running we spotted that the Manchester Marathon allowed teams of two (or four) to run the marathon as a relay. We thought this would be just the ticket for us both, and so signed up and booked an amazing brunch as our post-run reward. Priorities set.

Waiting for someone to run a half marathon before you can start your leg is a strange experience. I woke up at the normal time for a race feeling the usual excitement and nerves, but didn't know what to do with myself. I felt like I was missing something, worried I would miss Sheila - what if she did run it in 20 mins and I wasn't there?! I felt like all the fun was happening without me. I did what any normal runner would do; paced the house, went to the loo about 20 times just in case, then arrived way too early.

MCR Marathon Relay changeover
At the halfway mark the route had a small section cordoned off for the relay teams. You needed to wait here, spot your partner then run over the halfway timing mats together - ending their run and starting yours. This was all told to us on the day by volunteers and not before hand which would have been helpful. I would say the communication and info about the relay teams before the race could have been much better. But hey ho! 

The atmosphere here at the halfway mark was brilliant. A great band kept everyone entertained and it was fun cheering on all the marathon runners knowing you were soon going to be a part of it. 
After spotting and chatting to Jayne from the brilliant Veggie Runners, I spotted Sheila coming down the hill. She did AMAZINGLY and we were full of excitement as we ran down the chute together, gabbling and holding hands all the way over the mats. And then I was off. 
Running like a lunatic
(photo thanks to Chris March on route)
The 30 minute later start for the relay teams meant that I started my run with people who were on for about a 5 hour 30 marathon finish. I felt a bit like an impostor picking all these full marathon runners off with my fresh legs and towards the end of the run at miles 22 -24 it was difficult to keep my speed up amid walkers who were having a tough time. But I soon caught up with the 4.5 hour marathoners and the crowd on course was amazing. It was a good route with a mix of countryside in parts and little villages as well as the huge support heading back in to Old Trafford and the finish. I was spotted and cheered on by a few of the harriers which was a huge boost, along with some blogger friends which was a lovely and unexpected surprise. Jamie was waiting for me at about mile 25 so after a quick kiss I dug deep and kept up the pace to mile 26, turned the corner into the final funnel, cheered on by Sheila and Steve in the final stretch and thankfully over the finish line. 
Team mates extraordinaire 
After achieving my new PB in Wilmslow a few weeks ago, I was happy to not try and beat my time and really wanted to just do a good run and enjoy it. And I did. There is a lot to be said for running in your adopted town - it's so much fun. Great atmosphere, great support and so lovely to see so many people on the route. And running with your mate as part of a team is just brilliant. We were so happy and chuffed afterwards and so proud of each other. We are already plotting our team for next year.

13.1 miles each followed by 4 plates of brunch plus one amazing medal. This is my favourite running maths. 
Manchester Marathon Relay Medal

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