Date: Sunday 16th April 2023
Report By: Luke Prest
Odd as it may seem, there are people in this world whose very existence isn’t entirely consumed by the pursuit of running. For many of those people, their only real knowledge of The Marathon is the one that’s broadcast annually on the BBC in That London.
This national showcasing of running is a global occasion and the only real window the uninitiated have into mass participation running events. It serves to empower and encourages thousands to lace up and get out every single year. It’s exactly what started me off. I watched London on the telly, went for a run that afternoon and… well, lets just say I got a bit obsessed.
What is not so well known, and a personal bug bare of mine is that, charity places aside, getting a ticket to enter the damned thing in the mass ballot is nigh on impossible.
And so, when the “sorry, better luck next year” landed in my inbox for the seventh year on the spin, I did what I have done previously, entered a Not London Marathon and spent the following months suffixing any talk of running with the phrase…. “No, Manchester”
There were 9 of us from DRC in total (I think, as the results wont let me filter by club) that made the trip to the wrong side of the Pennines for this one. We were greeted by perfect conditions – calm, cool and, amazingly for Manchester, not raining.
The waved start and huge field made arranging a meet up impossible but a few of us managed to bump into a few others as we made our way through the slick, if a bit convoluted, process to the start line.
One thing to say here is that the event day logistics of running Manchester Marathon are amongst the best I’ve come across. Park out of the city, around any one of the many metrolink stops and utilise the tram which drops off right outside the event village at Old Trafford Cricket Ground every 10 minutes or so. The ground itself, whilst obviously being nowhere near as good as Headingley, makes a perfect event village – which shouldn’t be much of a surprise given its a purpose built venue for major sporting occasions and huge crowds.
Being perfectly honest, the route is a bit drab – bar a mile or two around Manchester City Centre and a skirt around Old Trafford, there’s not much in the way of interest. Its dual carriageways, low rise high streets and residential suburbs for the most part.
So what’s it got going for it?
The elevation profile is perfect. Not pancake flat, but nor is it hilly – its right in that sweet spot of being flat enough to be fast but not so flat as to have you crying out for a humpback bridge just to provide some relief to a relentless onslaught on the same muscle fibres.
If you ran it on any other day, I’d imagine it would be boring as sin but this was event day and therefor there were crowds. And what a difference that makes! That’s what makes this the brilliant and thoroughly fun event that it is and, in my humble opinion, elevates it above the other Not London’s I’ve done previously.
Snaking multiple times through (and then back through) Trafford, Manchester City Centre, Sale and Altrincham means lots of high streets that provide natural gathering points and so you’re never far from throngs of people lining the route.
The full results can be found here – there were some amazing performances from DRC on the day including a few new inductee’s into The Marathon Runners Club. Extra kudos to those guys - make yourselves at home, it’s a lifetime membership.
And the best bit? We've done now and we can all sit on our armchairs and watch “The Marathon” in comfort with the rest of the nation whilst knowing something that they don’t - that there are other marathons. Manchester is one of them and it proved to be so much more than just ‘Not London’.