Initially I was worried that it wouldn't take place but when we were e-mailed with the all-clear from Greater Manchester Police, I was packing my CRC vest and on the road. Admittedly the threat had only been downgraded from 'critical' to 'severe' but with Mancunian blood coursing through my veins, I wanted to stand shoulder to shoulder with a city in distress; added to which I had not missed a Manchester 10K since its inauguration some fifteen years ago.
Any lingering doubts I had were dispelled when I lined up with the thousands in the orange wave, stood silently for such a moving minute and then roared and clapped our defiance of terrorist tyranny. As a final boost, Tony Walsh, aka 'Longfella' read his inspirational new poem 'Do Something' where he urged us all to 'do something to show them what you're made of, beat something you're afraid of'. I looked around and saw determination in the faces of those listening and I was ready.
In a mark of solidarity we were started by those two Manchester footballing legends, Mike Summerbee (City) and Brian Robson (United); after 'high-fiving' Robbo I was away. This was my first run for months and I think the euphoria built up by the emotional start was guiding my steps because within a kilometre I had overtaken the one hour pace guide. My rational self knew that down the road we would meet again.
Meanwhile we were swept along on a wave of crowd noise and I whiled away the time reading the messages of dedication on the backs of runners. As I approached the 4K marker I noticed the one hour paceman coasting by and not even the inspiration of the Old Trafford statues of Sir Matt, Bobby, Denis and George could generate any quickening of pace on my part.
The next landmark was the Imperial War Museum at the 6K point and down the long straight by the Ship Canal I saw the paceman. Should I make an effort now? Then I remembered the wise words of that doyen of CRC running, Clive, 'eyeballs out only in the finishing straight'.
The lack of preparation was really beginning to tell and I knew I was slowing. I'm now looking for the 8K marker but a 12mile marker loomed into view and I'm convinced that I'm hallucinating. Sanity is restored when I realise that this part of the course was shared by the half-marathon runners in the morning.
I'm inside the 9K point and we are being drawn into the city centre on a conveyor belt of sound and good wishes. The finish gantry is now in sight but I am spent and if I changed pace at all it was from a plod to a meaningful plod. As I collect my 'goody' bag, tired but jubilant I am reminded of 'Longfella's' words...
'Because this is the place where we stand strong together, with a smile on our face, greater Manchester forever!'
|1st||Dathan Ritzenhein||America||28m. 06s|
|2nd||Bernard Lagat||Kenya||28m. 13s|
|3rd||Stephen Mokoka||Zambia||28m. 22s|
|9,340th||Roger Swann||Crewkerne||62m. 07s|