Richard Atkins’s Manchester Marathon Race Report

Manchester Marathon 2019

I had no intention of doing a marathon this year . I’d told myself I didn’t have the time to train…. but the temptation (and peer pressure from mr Thwaites) was too much. I had to give it a shot. I’d previously entered Edinburgh Marathon for a charity cause about 5 years ago, but with an injury I barely ran it. This was to be my first proper attempt at one.

Armed with a tweaked version of Stocksy’s plan I set about the task in hand. I put it on the fridge!

Good company on the long runs was provided by Mr T and even the 20+ milers were becoming enjoyable- Except the one where I finished with a climb up Ormesby bank! Good training though!


The morning came – up at 6.15 to make sure there was enough time for breakfast to settle- always an unnecessary worry. After checking the map for the 16th time, the family and I set off for the start – just a short walk from Salford Quays. The biggest worry and most important task , keeping our 3 year old out of Salford Quay! On my back he went, just what you need before the race.

The next worry – toilets! The queues were crazy so the obligatory wee in the bush was accomplished. I was ready. Going into the pen I saw Andrew Ackerley in front- wished him all the best and squeezed through the pen as far as possible to the 3hr pacer.


Soon enough, oasis was blaring and the gun had gone off – the pacer who was about a meter in front sped across the start line as everyone behind was separated into the next starting wave. Doh! There goes the easy plan of keeping in front of the pacer. 2 minutes later, off we went. Nervously checking my watch every few strides to make sure I wasn’t being daft with my pacing , I settled into a comfortable pace and inside the 3hr pace as per the stretch target – if I didn’t try and beat 3 hrs I’d regret it. Just didn’t want to hit the wall at 20miles! Time would tell.


I felt good and was still conscious not to go silly! The crowd were great, the bands lifting and all in all a great atmosphere. The 10k time was good, and every check of the watch confirmed a steady pace.


We headed into Altrincham- the crowd started to thicken and once again, the atmosphere built. I was still feeling good – I hoped i could see it through! The hill up through the streets of Altrincham lined with noise of encouragement, cheers and applause- it made you want to run faster- but I didn’t. Came down the downhill section and a quick check of the mile time confirmed I was still going steady. The half marathon passed and  a 1hr 29.30 ish was bang on track providing i kept all the wheels turning.


The next few miles seemed to pass a little slow- I kept checking my watch hoping the pace was still steady. It was ok. Legs were still feeling strong, enough water on board, 3 gels and some bloks consumed- i hope i’d timed them right.


Around the 18 mile mark a head wind appeared- not strong but enough to think about tucking in behind the biggest runner around. Trouble was there was no one very near. Legs started to feel the extra load, I settled into a different stride and head down.


Mile 22 was tough. The sign that said ‘now is the time to engage BEAST mode’ was right – especially if sub 3 hours was still on the cards. A water station came and suddenly I felt in need. Slowed quite a bit to take on the water and tried to get back into my stride. It was going to prove tough. Mile 23, legs started to feel like jelly, runners started to come past – I felt I was going backwards. The sun had even come out! That was all I needed- and when there was an underpass to go through , the sunlight followed by darkness, then sunlight again was too much, dizziness kicked in momentarily. I slowed off and took a few moments. I hadn’t quite hit the wall but I was using deep reserves. Took a couple of bloks, although feeling a little sick, gave me enough push to get going. It felt slow but I knew that the crowd would carry me for the last mile. I knew the family were at 25 miles and it spurred me on some more. Before I knew it, I was there with them – I was suffering still but back into the 8min something per mile as the food kicked in. Cramp had also arrived – foot, thigh and calf which caused a necessary stop as my leg had seized for a short time.


The last mile or so seemed long. The sight of the finish clock in the distance was a very welcome sight, it was head down and just listen to the crowd! I crossed the line 3hrs 8mins 57secs. A fantastic experience with just one ‘small’ hitch! Oh well, just means I can’t retire on that effort. And with that in mind I’ve entered it again next year!!


Good luck to all the other Marathoners- enjoy it.