Pete Hickman Reports: I was looking forward to this race. I had trained well, and despite picking up a calf niggle a couple of weeks beforehand, I was happy I had shaken it off okay. The plan was to run round with the 3:30 pacer, dip just under 3:30 and call it a day on my marathon career. Okay, so three marathons is hardly a career, but my knees aren’t what they once were.
Things didn’t go quite to plan. My train up to Manchester on the Saturday was cancelled, I couldn’t get into my accommodation until much later than expected, I got caught out in a hailstorm/deluge and because of tram problems ended up walking much further than I intended to. None of this has got anything to do with the race, but probably explains why I ended up having stomach ache all night and hardly getting any sleep.
Although the weather was perfect (bright, cool and barely a breeze), by the time I got to the start line I didn’t feel too clever at all. I got going though, and the first few miles settled me down and I started to feel a bit more confident. The drinks stations weren’t that well signposted and I ended up not even seeing the first one, and almost missing the second. At various points along the route we were seeing the lead/following runners coming past in the opposite direction and it was a happy distraction to be looking out for the other BvH runners. I manged to spot and give a big cheer of encouragement to Andy Hall, Antony Stewart and Steve Doswell, and they likewise to me. Things were still going to plan. I was still with my pacer, and the support on the route was great.
This carried on until mile 20 when the effects of the stomach ache and lack of sleep kicked in (as I suspected they might). It also started to get significantly warmer. My pace slowed noticeably and the pacer and the rest of his followers started to pull away from me, which was a new and disheartening experience. I hung on in as best I could and finished with 3hrs 44mins 09secs, which given the circumstances I was happy with.
Almost as big an ordeal was the post-race baggage collection which for me was an hour and three quarters, for others up to two and a half. Not really what you need. Fortunately I had booked a later train back home otherwise I would have struggled to make it. Well, I didn’t make it because it was cancelled!! I’ve now to decide if it is the end of my marathon running after all. Watch this space……….