I was lucky enough to get a place for Manchester Marathon through UKRunChat. When I say lucky what I actually mean was that I was daft to accept the place.
This does not mean the race will receive a poor review, I was daft for taking the place as two weeks before I had a run a 50K pb and the week after Manchester I was due to run a trail Marathon. This means a 50k and two marathons one a month.
Register was very simple and I received the race pack and number via post in plenty of time. I ordered the priority parking at the Etihad Stadium for £10 as they stated this would guarantee a parking space close to the race village.
On the morning of the race day I left about 6.30am as it was just over 30 miles drive for me. I arrived about 8.30am but unfortunately there was some parking chaos and I was beginning to get a little worried that I couldn’t park my car and get to the start line in time. Luckily it worked out. I parked, used the toilet facilities and got to the race village with time to spare.
This was manic. Far too small and unorganized. I quickly left. I can’t say anything more about the village as I couldn’t get to walk around it.
The race is claimed to be flat with a total elevation of about 150 feet. It is an almost circular route, all on tarmac going through industrial and residential areas.
Upon finding my predicted time start point (4.30) I waited for the start announcement. I didn’t hear one! People just started to run so I joined in hoping it was actually the start. I couldn’t even tell where the start timing mat was! As we carried on running I assumed we had started the race. Thankfully, according to my finish Garmin watch time, I was only a couple of seconds out so I must have predicted the start quite well.
The race was all road with some minor elevations. Not the best views but the on course, support by locals and visitors was fantastic! I encountered everything from Gospel Church choir singing to brass bands, loads of free bananas from supporters, cheers and many motivational signs. This was one of the best supported courses I have run.
One major problem with the route was the toilet facilities. Form what I saw there was only two toilet stops with about 3 portaloos at each. When you consider the number of entrants (+5000) this meant I had to queue for about 5 minutes for a toilet. In hindsight I should have nipped into a local field.
Another problem was the amount of gel wrapper litter on the floor at the latter aid stations. There was so much of it that I slipped and fell – I wasn’t the only one. I am not sure how this could be rectified in the future. I just wish some runners would have a little more consideration.
The final issue was at some points, the on course supporters got a little too enthusiastic and many ended up blocking some of the route, creating bottle necks.
Approaching the finish straight was fantastic. It was great to see the finish line on the home straight and the layout supported a sprint finish!
Crossing the finish line you then collect your t-shirt, medal, snacks and your free beer. Even I, a non-drinker, opted for the free beer. I couldn’t drink it all but those first few sips were heaven!
I LOVE the medal! It is my favourite medal to date. I also order the time strip so I could add my official time to the medal at a cost of about £6. For me, worth it as I got a marathon pb – a 16 minute pb.
The goodie bag was full of snacks and the usual race leaflets. The tee was technical and so far, it has lasted well.
I can’t comment on the bag drop as I didn’t use the service and I won’t repeat any stories of what I have heard about the bag drop experience.
I consider myself a trail runner but I did enjoy this race. It may be because I got a pb or it could be a result of the on course support. I just don’t know. If you are after a pb, then this is the race for you. If you want a well supported course, then this is for you. Just avoid the race village and bag drop!
Manchester Marathon time 4:23:30