2 years ago the Great Manchester 10k was my very first race (not counting my school days). Back in 2016 I had only just started on my running journey and probably wasn’t expecting to still be running in 2018. I have had a few attempts at running / getting fit in the past and they usually die off quite quickly. When I ran the Great Manchester 10k in 2016 I did not train properly, if I remember correctly, I went into race day with around 10 runs in the bank, never ran 10k and not even ran 5 miles without having to stop to walk. I actually made it all the way around nonstop in the race and in 52:14, which at the time, I was over the moon with.
Flash forward 24 months. My second Great Manchester 10k. This time with months and months of training, multiple long runs, marathons and far better nutrition. I originally booked this race with a PB attempt in mind, I put down my current PB as my 10k time in the hope that I would get in the front wave and ahead of the mass crowds.
I later signed up to run the Rock n Roll Liverpool Half Marathon on the morning of the Great Manchester 10k so I changed my plan for Manchester to just have run and enjoy the race.
I had finished the Liverpool half by 10:40 after collecting my medals, getting changed and chatting with a few friends I left Liverpool at 11:15 for the one hour drive in Manchester. This was going smoothly until I hit some roadworks in Manchester with just 0.7 miles to go. I finally parked up at 12:35, leaving me 30 minutes to get from Shudehill to Deansgate for the bag drop and then over to Portland Street for the Orange wave start. Fortunately, one of the volunteers near to the bag down offered me a lift to the start in a little golf buggy, getting me there with one minute to spare. No time for much of a warm up, just a few stretches to loosen the legs muscles, I guess running 13.1 miles earlier is some kind of warm up.
When the gun went and we set off I quickly realised that this never would have been a PB race even if I had wanted to push it. The sheer volume of runners meant that it was too crowded to at any kind of pace. The weather today was also really hot so I was glad I had ran hard in the half marathon this morning. I was aiming for a 7 minute pace to come home somewhere around 43 minutes.
Straight from the off I was weaving in and out around people going so much slower than I was and I was purposely running really slow anyway. I thought that the orange wave (wave 1) was where the faster paced runners would be, when you register you enter your expected race time, so why are there people in the front wave who clearly would struggle to run sub 1 hour? I get that they want to run their own race and at a pace they are comfortable with and most likely slowed a little due to the heat, but they are also spoiling the race for those who want to run quicker and not have to weave around to find space.
Anyway, rant over. This is a Great Run event so I should have remembered back to the crowds at SIMPLYHEALTH GREAT BIRMINGHAM 10K last year.
I ran the first mile in 7:08, slightly over my planned pace but not too bad given the crowds, I thought I could hold that and then push on a little when things thin out later on. Mile 2 went by in 7:21, mile 3 in 7:19. I was just losing more and more time. At the half way point my body and legs more specifically felt really good considering the miles ran this morning. I could have ran a lot better but, it is what it is. Then to top things off the three water stations were handing out bottles of water which had clearly sat out in the sun all day. The water was hot, not ideal in the warm weather. Even tipping it on my head resulted in me actually feeling hotter than before. This is something that Great Run should really look at. In the week leading up to the event, Great Run had quite rightly sent out multiple e-mails to advise of the potential for hot weather, yet they had not thought about the water standing out in the sun all day. I can only assume that they used the same water stations for this mornings Great Manchester Half Marathon and had left the bottles out ready for the 10k. Maybe in hindsight they should have followed their own advise and prepared for hot weather by covering the water stations or spare bottles with a marquee to provide some shade for the water.
Mile 4 went by in 7:12, slightly faster. As we turned back on to Chester Road for the last 2 mile run home, things started to thin out and I could now finally run at my own pace. By now I thought that there is little point in pushing on to try and run a 7:00 pace, I would just run at a comfortable pace and enjoy the finish. Mile 5 was 7:07 and Mile 6 7:02, the last 0.4 mile to the finish was at 6:45, spurred on by the amazing support on that last bit up to Deansgate.
In the end I finished up with a 45:14. More than 5 minutes off my PB but also 7 minutes faster than when I ran back in 2016 despite the crowds and the half marathon already in the legs.
Despite the issues with hot water and slow runners I still really enjoyed this race. To have ran a 5k on Saturday, half marathon Sunday morning and then this 10k Sunday afternoon was a big achievement for me. Two years ago when lining up for this race I had doubts about even making around a 10k full stop let alone running 10k as a cool down from a morning half marathon.
Would I run it again? possibly. I wouldn’t sign up with any hopes of running quickly, it would just be for a steady race where the crowd support is amazing.