About one week and forty five minutes after Loch Ness I found myself shoulder to shoulder with Lindsay and Stef at the Liverpool Marathon. This was its first run in 18 years so teething problems were to be expected. It was a curious affair as one by one people got bored waiting and drifted away from the starting pens and started wandering about. The poor organisers had got everyone psyched up and ready, then nothing. Just waiting for the nod from the police to say we were good to go. We did go, eventually, and before we even crossed the start line Stef and Lindsay were already away in front of me.
I wasn’t expecting miracles just a week after the Loch Ness marathon and I wasn’t to be disappointed. At mile 3 the legs began to hurt and my heart sank. Mile 3! My heart was right to sink, as my discomfort got steadily worse, and before we’d even got 10 miles I knew that this had not been a good idea. My initials are not Dave Robson or Eddie Izzard, what was I thinking! Had I learned nothing from doing exactly the same thing last year with a Loch Ness – Kielder double?
We passed through some interesting places and the crowds were an eclectic mix. Some were in their curlers and pink dressing gowns with the kids picking up and throwing back the discarded water bottles, while others were more formally dressed and looked like they’d been up a bit longer. I felt that this could turn out to be an interesting day. Onto New Brighton for a long loop along the river before returning through a series of loops and turns before the approach to the tunnel.
We descended into the Queensway Tunnel, or the Male Urinals to give it its proper title. The previous 12 miles had lots of trees, shrubs, herbaceous borders, and even portaloos, so I was a bit mystified as to why so many blokes chose to wait until the tunnel to see how high they could write their name on the wall. Either that or the River Mersey was running down the sides of the tunnel. Either way, it wasn’t pleasant. And then it began. Oggy Oggy Oggy! OMG, I thought. 2.01 miles of Oggy Oggy Oggy! It wasn’t too late, I could just turn back, hop on a bus, and say I felt tired. No one would know.
With Garmins bleeping indignantly all around at their satellite deprivation we (not me obviously) oggied our way through the tunnel. I ran on the wrong side of the road. I just didn’t care. The half-way timing mat was at the bottom of the tunnel with a very bored looking attendant, which I thought was quite funny. He should have brought a book. Up the hill and out into the sunlight to be welcomed by a raucous, fully clothed and musical Liverpool crowd.
Shortly after there’s a tantalising glimpse of the Finish and some great crowd encouragement then we veer aside for a tour of Liverpool. At some point I hear a shout from Lindsay (I’m walking by now) amongst the bewilderment that is Sefton Park. If I had the foggiest idea where I was I might have retired around now and it would have been the easiest thing in the world just to nip through the gappy line of cones and shave 6 miles of my marathon. But that’s not for everyone. By now I had adopted the ‘reward system’ that I had used in my very first marathon; jog a mile, then allow 2 minutes walking reward at each mile marker. Psychologically, I knew if I kept on doing this, I would complete the full 26.2 miles, even though I was finding it pretty grim and just wanted to quit.
The support from the crowd towards the end was fantastic and it was a good downhill finish that I wish I could have enjoyed. Over the line and a slick operation soon had me medalled, wrapped and bananad. My banana fell on the ground and I stood there staring at it until a fellow runner, whose knees still worked, picked it up for me. I walked straight out the finish area and the 20 minutes back to the car to collapse in a heap and rummaged for my Striders hoodie. I then uncollapsed out of the car and walked the 20 minutes back to Finish, this time remembering to collect my baggage and locate my hoodie, which by this time I was very pleased to see.
The day’s entertainment wasn’t quite over. I popped into Costa Coffee and gingerly descended the stairs to join the queue. There were several wails when it was announced that the coffee equipment had ‘just been cleaned’ and that the place would be closing. However, somewhere behind me someone said something that might have been “I don’t think so”. I suppose if you’re working in a coffee franchise and you decide it’s time to close, it’s probably best not to do it if the owner of the outlet happens to be in the queue at the time. And if the owner has just run the Liverpool Marathon then he might not be too interested in whether the coffee equipment had ‘just been cleaned’. We all got our coffee.
Despite a few teething problems and, for me at least, being a painful race, this was a fun marathon. I didn’t do it justice by not being ready and would like to try it again in better shape. I loved the cheerleaders, steel bands, encouraging crowds, tunnel, and long and winding roads, and would like to do it again. Just a bit faster.
|1||John Mccole||Liverpool Harriers||M||1||2:34:41|
|68||Alison Sedman||Belle Vue Racers||FV45||1||3:08:07|