The Great Manchester 10K: On the seventh day, God created Manchester
24th May 2016 14:36
This blog was written by James Hinde, Research Director
Our great city
Manchester, the city of industriousness and invention, knows how to throw a party. Think of the Madchester scene, the 1990s and the Hacienda. Or the Free Trade Hall that night when the Sex Pistols launched a hundred bands. Or the 2002 Commonwealth Games when we showed the world how it should be done.
The Great Manchester 10K is the biggest race of its kind in the whole of Europe. More than 30,000 runners and their friends and family gather in Manchester and the city is taken over with bright balloons, flyers, runners in sharply coloured charity vests and a buzz in the air. DJS sent a ragtag team of 10 to run with Together Trust and we brought with us our training (limited for some), hopes, nerves and rivalries!
Together Trust had kindly offered us the opportunity of space at the Hilton Hotel so we could drop our bags and prepare before and some of us met there. There was some initial drama as Alasdair, one of our directors, had found the inside of his shoes laced with energy gel, humorously suspecting Julie, the ever competitive, of sabotage, but it couldn’t be proved. We set off for the packed start area at Portland Street and managed to find our way into the crowds of runners. We waited there with fidgety anticipation with thousands of others in our coloured vests, lined by the giant Manchester buildings, decorations and balloons, like in some sacred outdoor cathedral.
Out of concern, I’d hoped to see Richard at the start, a guy in his 50s who’d decided to enter last minute with no experience of this kind of thing at all, although I had seen him running the few miles to work in his jeans and shirt and occasional umbrella when it was raining. But it was just too busy. I’d also hoped to see Faye, but as an actual real athlete she had a place at the front. She beat me last year by a good half minute and I hoped this would be my year to take some small revenge and I planned to catch her later.
The others were in the waves to come and I hoped things would be OK for them. They were an assorted group of our “fit in his day” Managing Director (Danny), a younger lad (Matt), a Mum (Ali) who enjoyed her running and a fairly knackered Dad (David) with a new baby and toddler at home. We had entered the medium sized business mixed team category with the two fastest men and two fastest women to count. Hundreds of other businesses entered teams too.
The gun went off for the start and the great crowd lurched forward excitedly. Then we were off running with glee down the streets of Manchester, past the Bridgewater Hall, the old Hacienda building and other Manchester sights, to be eventually spewed out down the dual carriageway with Old Trafford in the distance gleaming in the sun. We all started fast and felt great, but there was so much more to go and it was starting to get hot. As I overtook a tall Batman in his dark, heavy costume, I feared for his wellbeing.
The carriageway was lined with spectators and shimmered in the unlikely Manchester sun. We had our names on our vest and strangers shouted for us in keen support, willing us on. Volunteers at Water Stations carefully held out their bottles for us to grab as we ran past. It felt hot now and our legs were starting to get tired. I was looking out for Faye and her trademark long curly blonde hair that flames brightly behind her as she runs like the trail of a shooting star. In the end I never did see her, because basically she was miles ahead of me! Next year.
We could see the imposing Hilton tower and then it didn’t feel like too far to go, but it seemed to go on for ages as we put what little we had left into one foot in front of the other. As a sign said 400m to go, we entered Deansgate to swathes of spectators going crazy wild with noise and the coloured finish arc. Some sprinted and some limped at this stage, but we all got through that finish with delight. We’d done it!
There was a large, well organised area for us to collect our goodie bags (beef jerky just one of the smorgasbord of joys!), T-shirts and medals and chat with other competitors. Julie did amazing, making her 4 daughters proud and was almost not bothered that Alasdair beat her by a minute. Danny, our fine MD was just a little off his target, but explained it was because of a watch malfunction. Ali got her target of under an hour as did Matt. David was close to an hour which was great considering how knackered he is these days. But we couldn’t see Richard, the late entrant, and I was worried it had all been too much for him. I hoped he was OK.
We’d done it!
After the race I limped up to the room with the Together Trust. They were so nice to us and congratulatory. I had a lovely massage, mixing pain and pleasure in just the right quantities, whilst outside of the window down below I could see others from later waves finishing one after another and another. All so many different faces, some in costumes, some carrying fridges and other heavy objects, but all faces of determination, joy, pride and a little pain.
We met at the pub later. We looked up times and found two runners under Richard’s name and we didn’t know which, if either, was him. Had he even finished? Later we found out which Richard it was and it turned out he smashed the race, ran 40 minutes and came 12th in his age category out of more than 30,000 runners. Legend!
We’d raised close to £1,000 and had a great time. Later on we found out that we had won the mixed team category! The final team was Faye (39 mins), Richard (40 mins), me (40 mins) and Julie (46 mins). As well as winning the medium sized category, we were also the fastest mixed team of all of the company size categories. We were really pleased and await our trophy.
Eventually we made our way home with thousands of other limping legs on different trains to different parts of Manchester and further away to be rewarded with an evening of food and perhaps some wine. And as Alasdair settled into his sofa later that evening with his double Chinese banquet and bottle of wine, his tiny, fluffy Schnauzer dog looked lovingly to him with pride in his doggy eyes as if to say to Alasdair “you did well today big man and I love you”. And he did do well. We all did.
The Great Manchester 10K is one of the greatest parties you can experience and is such a good way to raise money and set yourself a challenge. Together Trust looked after us so well and we are pleased we managed to raise so much for such a good charity. We’ll certainly be back for more next year and hope you will too.