The Great Manchester Run is a whole day of racing which includes a Half-Marathon & 10k. The 10k is a mostly flat out and back from the city centre to Old Trafford and back & you receive a stunning medal & technical tee.

This one cropped up on me out of nowhere. I was supposed to be doing a double race weekend in Liverpool with my Dad (5k and Half). However having suffered with injury since March I hadn’t been able to train for the half and just wasn’t ready for it mentally or physically.

When Amy asked me if I’d be interested in taking a place while I was still out in Dubai, I couldn’t say no, it was almost fate. I would be up North anyway seeing my folks and running the RnR 5k and it’s only a 10k so perfect way to judge my fitness.

I’d seen the Great Manchester Run on TV in previous years and marvelled at the amount of people taking part, I’d eyed it up for 2017 however it clashed with the Westminster Mile and London 10,000.

Friday I flew back from Dubai, arrived home at 4 o’clock, packed a fresh case and headed for my parents. Saturday was a 5.30 start to ensure we made it to Liverpool in time for the 5k, then heading home for a well-deserved nap before heading to Manchester the following morning.

One blessing that due to the Half Marathon and 10k our start time was not until 1.30, so I took the train to Manchester mid-morning, hoping to change at my hotel. Only I couldn’t check in, so had the glamourous task of changing into my running kit in a toilet cubicle with my backpack and suitcase.

I dropped my bags at reception and headed over to Lululemon (who we were running in collaboration with) with legend Pete (@Sprintkitchen). We were provided with a Lulu t-shirt (which actually fitted me) and our number. They didn’t have time to change my name before the start so I would be Marc for the day.

The rest of the crew arrived (Amy, Caithy and Nicky), several selfies and group shots later and we walked over to the start. We were in time to see the first wave and Mo disappear into the distance before we were ushered onto the start line for the next wave. And at the front of the next wave, I was literally lined up on the starting mat. I was slightly uncomfortable as there was a line of orange clad speedy looking Mancunians ready to fight their way past.

As always, the starting gun goes and I go off like an idiot and knew I’d have to pull the plug and slow it down before long. The plan was to run a kilometre, walk for 2mins and run to the next KM marker.

I ended up walking before the first KM purely to bring my pace down as I was hitting 11min/mile at first. The field started to thin and before long I was beginning to see people coming the opposite way from the earlier waves and recognise parts of the route from Manchester Half and cheering Manchester Marathon. Gazz came up behind and scared the living daylights out of me grabbing my shoulders and saying something in Mancunian, I’m no longer literate in the dialect since I moved south.

The route isn’t exactly flat and so I took to walking up the inclines, I can’t really call them hills to be honest. At the 4k point I heard a loud CARL from the other side of the carriageway as Pete, Nicky and Caithy were already on their way to the finish line.

Then it was off the carriageway for a twisty section around an industrial estate and past a place called Old Trafford, where one of the football teams play. I was having a walk break but seeing a photographer, obviously I sorted my hair out, straightened my back and bounced along like a newly born lamb….the photos don’t have the same effect.

I’d grabbed some jelly babies from the fab supporters out on course and the one thing I noticed was that the support was incredible, especially as we weren’t running around housing estates or well populated areas, people had come out, travelled and came prepared to cheer.

7k and things were becoming tough, the sun was high and warm and my walking breaks were stretching from a strict 2 minutes to 3mins, to the set of traffic lights, to over the crest of the hill. I knew I just had to start running and it would be easier.

Back on the carriageway and the city comes into view on the horizon and essentially it’s a nice moment to know you’re nearly there. Entering the city is fantastic, support both sides of the road, everyone cheering for you, 9k came up and its hard to walk in front of all these people when they’re urging you to keep going.

The finish comes up out of nowhere, you turn a sharp left hand corner, there’s a slight incline (so cruel for a finish) and you’re done. The approach was manic, I’ve never seen so many cross the line at the same time at any race before. There was a little bit of bumping but everyone was pleasant and apologetic and congratulated each other.

I’d slipped from my estimation of staying sub 1:30 as per my other 10k’s this year, but I’d finished, I’d been sensible and managed my knee. It was seriously hot so I take something from that, I’m glad to be back running, but it’s been clear that I have a lot of hard work to do to get back to running a 10k non-stop and even further to get back down to PB territory this year.

I stumbled back to the Lululemon store the event village was a little lacking however it was made up for by just one pop up store….

I made it back to the store for beverages (Pimms and G&T’s) and some delicious brownies that I smashed in my face(read: got all over my face) from Lili at Phit Food co (@phitfoodco) who was running with us.

It was then off to find anywhere in Manchester that had some outside seating for dinner and drinks!

My feels from the day was just that I was glad to be running again but also how quickly the race seemed to go. Even though it was slow time for me personally, the race just seemed to fly by.

Would I do it again – If I had the crew with me again, yeah. I’m finding lately that the people you’re with make the race, although if the race is a 90 lap race around a sewerage plant with no medal (see meme if you don’t know what I’m referring to) then it’s probably a little harder to be cheery about a race. But it was all about hanging out with tons of awesome peeps and enjoying the day – big tick there!.

Huge thank you to Amy (@AmyHughes53) for inviting me and Lululemon for the place and looking after us on the day.