I've lost count of how many races I've done over the years, probably over 200 now, but this was a first even for me, a big city race. Thanks to Mark Riches i got a late entry to this years Bupa Manchester 10k and was pretty excited about doing it. I was in two minds if i should race it or just enjoy it as normally when i race i just remember the pain and not much else.
I got in to Manchester bright and early and made my way to the 'orange' start area which was almost empty, so i decided to go for a 10 minute jog and make a toilet stop. Close to 10am i made my way to the front of the orange zone right next to the barriers where to my surprise i saw a few familiar faces in Peter & Robin Chan, Jean Mann and Mark Lysycia who were all marshals. It wasn't long before the latter got his favourite gadget out, his camera, and was happily snapping away at everything that moved!
The elite runners were at the front, then there was a small section of "fast" runners, and just behind them behind a metal barrier was the orange zone. I was hoping Mark would let me in the "fast" runners bit but he was being very strict.
Man Utd legend Bobby Charlton and some fella who played for a little know blue team called Tony Buck started the race bang on 10.34am. They let the elites and fast runners go before unleashing the orange zone. I've known some fast starts in my time but this took the biscuit with some runners sprinting just to get over the start line. Even i got carried away and set off quick. I've never had 'race rage' before but i couldn't help throwing out the odd expletive as i passed a lot of the so called "fast" runners who had clearly cheated their application to get a good start position.
As we made our way down Chester Road i was moving very well, first mile 5.47, 2nd mile 5.53 and 3rd mile 6.02 which was my PB pace. As we turned at the theatre of dreams at 5k i started to realise i maybe had got a bit excited and tried to hold my form for the final few miles which felt a little uphill and in a very slight head wind. As i hit the 5 mile mark the time was 30.04, 2 seconds outside my 5 mile PB set in 2006. At this point it was hurting, 800 mtrs to go, 400 mtrs to go, i heard a familiar voice "come on Gary, nice shorts", it was Anne Garvey, thanks Anne!
As i crossed the finish line my time was 37.47 (187th), not a PB but still a very pleasing performance. Later i looked at my garmin and it measured the course long at 6.26 miles which was probably down to dodging a few of the cheats. I took comfort in knowing if i had been in the "fast" section i would have run close to 37.30 if not under, which gives me lots of encouragement for the rest of the year.
A big well done to all the club members who did the race and to the other 40,000, whom most were just happy to get round, raising millions for charity in the process.