Friday morning I ran 5 miles. I was at the Marathon Expo by 1:00 PM chatting to runners and selling the Manchester Marathons 1908 – 2002 book. Steve Kenyon, the fastest ever Manchester marathon winner with 2:11:54 at the Piccadilly in 1981, helped me in the evening, signing his picture on page 164.The Expo finished at 9:00 PM and it was a late night with an early rise for a 5:50 AM 4 mile run Saturday morning. I picked co – author Neil Shuttleworth and we were at the Expo by 9:00. Although forecast for bad weather, Saturday was not a bad day. Amongst the past winners who stopped by to chat were Sarah-Jane Heatley and Kerry Wood. Chatting to runners and having photographs taken we were there until 5:45 PM when I ran Neil back to Broadbottom.
Sunday morning could not have been worse. Cold, heavy rain and swirling high winds. I was there to run the first 7 miles in the middle of the pack after “starting” the race with Steve Kenyon and Darren Campbell. Thank heaven I was wearing black racers asLongfordParkwas waterlogged. The conditions were so bad that I ran in a long sleeve top, jacket, vest, Ronhill fleecy tights and Hilly cap and gloves. The race organisers had given me two numbers – 20928- to wear back and front. I joined in the throng after 2 minutes, was out of breath during the first mile – 9:09 – warming up then, despite the rain, I enjoyed running along talking to runners as we headed out towards Altrincham. As planned I stopped at 7 miles having averaged 9 mins 5 seconds per mile, which I was pleased with. I walked on a good way looking for the car to take me back toLongfordPark. Half an hour later, with me having stood around without shelter in the pouring rain, my driver turned up having had a nightmare getting through because of the road closures. We had similar problems on the return by which time I was suffering from exposure. I could not hold a cup of coffee; my hands were shaking so much. My thoughts went out to those still out on the road who had been in such high spirits as I bade them farewell.
I stayed to watch Dave Norman, Altrincham AC, win the race in 2:24:50, having taken the lead in the last mile, followed by Salford Harrier Andy Jones, 2:26:23. After the first woman, Rebecca Johnson, Bellahouston Harriers, W40, 3:05:26, went through the finish I drove home to thaw out in a hot bath.
How unlucky the organisers had been. Saturday was a decent day. Monday was a gorgeous day. Yet Sunday could hardly have been worse, in fact the worst weather I have ever seen for a marathon in the UK.