Race Report by Helen Rowe
Friday 18th May
I travelled up to Liverpool by train on Friday afternoon. I arrived at Liverpool Lime Street at 17:44, and made my way to my hotel. En route, I passed a number of pubs/bars with big beefy men on the door. I wondered what I had let myself in for. My hotel was about 10-15 minute walk from the station. I should have researched it a bit more. When I checked in, the guy on Reception said “I have put you on the second floor, as far away from the bar as I can, and at the front of the hotel, which is quieter than the side”. WTF? Anyway, no lift, so up the stairs I went with my luggage.
The room was a single room, and the paint was peeling off the walls in places. There were nail clippings on the floor – and they weren’t mine! The bathroom was clean (thank goodness), so I dumped my gear and headed down to Albert Dock to the Expo before it closed.
Later, I met up with Hayley and Andrew, and we went for a meal at the Panam Club. When I told them where I was staying Hayley said “You are right in the middle of the Nightclub area”. They escorted me back to the hotel after our meal – and it was already very lively.
Saturday 19th May
I got up at 6.30am. It was the first time it had been quiet all night! I had taken a porridge pot for my breakfast, even though breakfast was included in my hotel package – I didn’t have time to eat at the hotel. I had to get the kitchen staff to let me out, as being a pub as well as a hotel, the front doors were bolted. I made my way down to Albert Dock, to the Expo, and then to the start line. Marie O’C and Tiff spotted me – and called to me. It was nice to see some faces I knew.
We were put in corrals – and eventually our corral started moving forwards, and then we were at the start line, and off. The route took us through the dock area, out to the Ferry Terminal, and then inland, past the Liver Building, and along The Strand, and then back alongside the Echo Arena, and out to Mariners Wharf, then back along the dock area, and into the Exhibition Centre, where we were greeted with our medals when we crossed the line. I was pleased with my time – my best 5K time this year.
Afterwards, I had my medal engraved, and then headed back to the hotel, for a shower and to change, before watching the Royal Wedding in my hotel room. In the afternoon I made my way back down to the Expo, to see if there was anyone about. I bumped into Dave Phillips and his wife, then Phillip and Jo Hayes, and Dave and Anne-Marie Goodwin. I treated myself to an ice-cream, and wandered back to the hotel for a rest before meeting up with Hayley, Andrew, Sharon, Claire and Sam (Claire’s sister) at Pizza Express for an evening meal (carb loading). We bumped into more of the Massey Family in there, doing more of the same! Then Hayley, Andrew and Sharon escorted me back to my hotel. There were sirens a plenty, with police and ambulances going up and down the street. I tried to sleep before the big day on Sunday.
Sunday 20th May
My alarm went off at 6.00am. It was quiet outside, apart from the street cleaner. I got up, dressed and packed, as I needed to check out of the hotel before going down to Albert Dock for 08.00 am. Again, I had to miss the paid for breakfast, and have my porridge pot in my room. Again, I had to get the kitchen staff to let me out, after I had stored my luggage behind Reception, and handed in my card keys.
I made my way down to the Expo again. It was buzzing with lots of runners around the Echo Arena, and the Exhibition Centre. I put my bag in at the Bag Drop, and then made my way back to the Stage Area. More and more people were arriving, and there was soon a throng of Massey’s. We lined up for a photo, and then people started making their way to the corrals. We were then greeted by Dave and Anne-Marie, who had the Massey Flag, and we lined up behind it for a group photo, before dispersing to our various corrals. I was in corral 19, which I swear was a mile out of Liverpool! I tried to engage a few people around me in conversation, but some were just plain rude! It was then the waiting game. A loud cheer went up when we eventually started moving forwards. It was 09:40 by the time I crossed the start line, and I wondered whether they were going to be able to start the marathon on time.
The start of the route was similar to the start of the 5K yesterday, but then it took you into new territory, passing the Cavern Club, and then along The Strand and Wapping, and up Blundell Street, then Nelson Street, and up to Chinatown. We were directed along dual carriageways, and through some lovely parks, where the shade of the trees was most welcome. There were plenty of toilets, and water/Lucozade/gel stops along the way. At Penny Lane most people stopped for a photo (me included), and there was a lady at the side of the road with a bleeding knee. Apparently First Aid had been sent for. At just after mile 9 we were on the long path to the finish – 4 miles (or nearly) along the promenade. A lot of us were feeling quite low by this point, and unfortunately there was not much support out. There was a band, or was it a one-man band and a woman singer partway along. Then at between mile 11 and 12, the motorcycle outriders with the lead runners in the marathon came past me. Then the marathon runners started to trickle past me. Although I had slowed right down, due to the heat, and tiredness, I still managed to overtake a few people, which was a bit of a boost for me.
The end of the run was very much the same as the end of the 5K on Saturday, and there were crowds lining the route to the finish. The finish line still looked to be a long way ahead, but I kept going. I didn’t want to walk to the finish, so I pushed on. Then, eventually, it was within reach, and there were the lovely Massey Family cheering me in. It is so lovely to have people there for you. I collected my medal, my crisps, my banana and a drink, and I made my way back to find the Massey people. Marie and Tiff made their way back to the 24 mile mark, to support the runners for the last two miles. Hayley wanted to cheer Andrew in – and she had been tracking him on the app, so we waited for him to appear. When he came into view we shouted and cheered, and then he stopped just short of the finish line. What was wrong? Hayley ran up to find out, and Sharon and I followed. He had developed cramp in his calf, and had had to stretch it out. He later said it was the toughest race he had done. He had hit the wall at mile 16, and knew he still had another 10 miles to do.
Bags collected, we made our way to the Echo Arena for our free pint of beer – but not until after I had collected my Remix Medal, for doing two races in one weekend. We sat on the floor in front of the stage, listening to the band, in the sunshine, until it was time for me to walk back to the hotel, clanking all the way with my bling round my neck. I collected my luggage, and made my way to the station. I bumped into Lisa Jay at the station, and we caught the train together. I had to change at Crewe, and I got home at approx. 6.45pm – exhausted after such a tiring day, and two very disturbed nights. I showered, had a quick bite to eat, and was in bed by 9.00pm.
So the question is, do I sign up to do it all again next year? I am very tempted. But I will choose a different hotel if I do.